The South African Air Force is preparing to conduct an airspace security exercise in order to run through doctrine regarding airspace security and border patrolling. The annual airforce force preparation exercise, named Exercise Winter Solstice, is conducted to verify their combat readiness.
The exercise is taking place over the period 26 July to 4 August 2012. The area covered by this years’ exercise includes large parts of the North West Province, from the South African/Botswana border down to Orkney, along the Vaal River to Douglas in the Northern Cape and then up back up to the Botswana border.
Last year, Exercise Winter Solstice was conducted in the Eastern Cape during extreme winter conditions when over 500 SAAF personnel were deployed in the Bhisho area in the Eastern Cape. Then, the exercise consisted of Blue and Red forces war gaming a real-time scenario in order to evaluate the SAAF’s operational capabilities and combat readiness.
The objectives then were as follows:
· To evaluate the SAAF’s deployability
· To enhance and evaluate the SAAF’S comprehensive defence operational capabilities
· To develop a common understanding of military interoperability and foster mutual trust, respect and co-operation in the SAAF.
· To evaluate and upgrade operational readiness, means and methods.
· To evaluate co-operation and networking between stakeholders and civil aviation authorities and partners like ATNS, ACSA and the General Aviation.
It is anticipated that this year’ objectives will be similar, but the actual tactics and scenarios will differ so as to concentrate on airspace security and border patrolling.
It is expected that a large number of aircraft will be deployed to surrounding airfields, including Gripen and Hawk jets, Cessna Caravans, Agusta A109, Oryx and Rooivalk helicopters. Other systems could include Tactical Mobile Radars, Mobile Ground Signal Intelligence Systems and communication equipment.
The SAAF has confirmed that further information will be communicated over the next few weeks.