In the 2017/18 financial year the SA Air Force (SAAF) achieved 81% of its targeted five thousand flying hours.
By far the majority of hours spent in the air – 3 629.2 – was in support of joint force requirements with another 496.3 hours going to VVIP flying by 21 Squadron, according to the latest annual report of the Department of Defence (DoD).
“The underachievement on force employment flying hours is largely due to less taskings than estimated and planned for,” according to the report, tabled in Parliament late last month. The report also points out force employment hours flown are dependent on operational taskings received and the number of deployable aircraft available.
The airborne service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was tasked with support of the UN peace support mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo – MONUSCO. This saw Rooivalk combat support helicopters from 16 Squadron along with Oryx medium transport helicopters from any of 15, 17, 19 or 22 squadrons doing duty in the central African country.
The air defence programme of the DoD is to defend and protect South Africa and its airspace by providing four helicopter squadrons and a combat support helicopter squadron; three medium transport squadrons which includes a VIP squadron (21), a maritime and transport squadron (35), a light transport squadron (44) and nine reserve squadrons; an air combat squadron (2) and 24 hour command and control capability, according to the annual report.