When the annual Bloemfontein Show opens for business on Freedom Day (Friday 27 April) a major component of the event will be provided by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Fresh from its successful participation in last month’s Rand Show, the national military machine will be building on that with the exception of the bangs provided by gunfire and the loud noise accompanying low-flying aircraft. This, according to as reliable source in the defence force, is because the Free State event is mainly agricultural and not consumer-oriented like Johannesburg’s Rand Show.
That said there will be enough hardware and personnel on hand at the Bloemfontein showgrounds to ensure showgoers are in for a military treat.
A live demonstration is set for 5 May and although it will not be in the same league as the one soldiers put on in the arena at the National Exhibition Centre it will still draw the crowds. Military vehicle demonstrations on a specially built track will show just what Ratel, Rooikat, Olifant and Samil vehicles are capable of in their set tasks of delivering manpower, firepower and support equipment to where it is needed.
The SA Army will display both its equestrian and K9 capabilities with Labradors, beagles, Rottweilers and Belgian shepherd dogs showing their specific skillsets alongside one man/one dog trainers.
An insight into the important business of surveillance will be given with the Sophie thermal imager, broadband global area network and TR 2400 radio. Advanced surveillance equipment in the form of the Squire radar, Nestor thermal imager and camera with day/night ability will also be displayed.
87 Helicopter Flying School of the SA Air Force, based at AFB Bloemspruit in the Free State capital, will show an A109 cockpit layout, avionics equipment and a display screen facilitating helicopter operations.
The maritime service of the SANDF will concentrate on its hydrographic operations for show visitors. Equipment on show will include charts, theodolites, a side-scan sonar and others that work in conjunction to produce sea charts.
The SA Navy’s maritime reaction capability will be shown off by elements of its maritime reaction squadron (MRS). A dive tank is expected to generate much spectator interest with a riverine patrol boat, boarding boat and dive mannequin not far behind.