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South African Air Force

The South African Air Force (SAAF) is the air force of South Africa, with headquarters in Pretoria. It is the world's second oldest independent air force, and its motto is Per Aspera Ad Astra (Through Adversity to the Stars). An official slogan, Through Diversity To Airpower Excellence, is also used.



Origins and first flying school

Replica of the Patterson No. 2 Biplane at the South African Air Force MuseumThe first winged flight in South Africa is thought to have been made in 1871 by Goodman Household in a primitive glider in the Karkloof district in Natal.[1] The first powered flight is attributed to Cecil Bredell and Alfred Raison who flew a replica of a Bleriot Monoplane in Highlands North, Johannesburg on 30 April 1911.[1] In December 1911 two visiting aviators; Cecil Compton Patterson flying a Patterson No. 2 Biplane and Evelyn Driver flying a Bleriot biplane, started flying demonstration flights in the Cape and aroused significant public and government interest to the possibilities of powered flight in South Africa. Prompted by the Patterson / Driver displays, General Jan Smuts (Minister of Defence) sent Brig Gen C.F. Beyers (Commandant-General of the Defence Force) to Britain to observe the 1912 military maneuvers and to report on the viability of using aircraft in military operations. Beyers' response was extremely supportive and encouraging of the establishment of an air corps. By this time the Patterson / Driver flying syndicate had dissolved and in 1912 Patterson and the Union Defence force reached an agreement to establish a flying school at Alexandersfontein in Kimberley, known as the Paterson Aviation Syndicate School to train pilots for the proposed South African Aviation Corps (SAAC).[2] Basic flying training commenced in 1913 using a Compton-Paterson biplane[3] and six of the students who completed the basic training were sent to the Central Flying School at Upavon in the United Kingdom for further training. Lt. Kennith van der Spuy passed his final examination on 2 June 1914 and was granted the certificate of the Royal Aero Club, becoming South Africa's first qualified military pilot.[4] The others passed a few days later, with five of them eventually qualifying. On qualifying, the Union Defence Force granted permission for these aviators to be seconded to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).[2]

World War I

World War I broke out in August 1914 and one month later South African troops invaded German West Africa. Early in the German West African campaign, the Union Defence Force had realised the need for air support - having frequently seen German reconnaissance aircraft above their advancing columns and later, having being strafed by German aircraft. This emphasised the urgency for the need of the long discussed air corps and brought about the establishment of the South African Aviation Corps (SAAC) on 29 January 1915.[4] Although the SAAC had been formally established, the lack of aircraft lead Sir Abe Bailey to lead a delegation in an attempt to acquire American aircraft and pilots for the air corps. The Wright double-wing aircraft initially earmarked for purchase were found to be unsuitable after having been tested in Britain; British aircraft too (being of wooden construction), were considered unsuitable for the hot and dry conditions of German West Africa.[5] It was finally decided to purchase twelve tubular steel framed French Henri Farman F-27 aircraft, powered by Canton-Unn radial engines.[5] Capt. Wallace was recalled from the RFC and oversaw the purchase of the aircraft in France while Lt's Turner and Emmett were recalled to coordinate the building of an airfield at Walvis Bay and to prepare for the recruitment of 75 prospective pilots.[5]

The crest of No. 26 Squadron RAF depicting a Springbok head and Afrikaans mottoDue to a lack of steel tube in France, delivery of the Henri Farmans was delayed and the British government offered four B.E.2c's as interim aircraft and also provided three RFC pilots. Eventually, only two B.E.2c's and six Henri Farmans were delivered, with the last aircraft arriving in the Union on 15 May 1915. In addition, the SAAC received two Jeannin Taube monoplanes which had been captured while en route to German West Africa by British Forces in Douala. Although not air-worthy, these two aircraft were pressed into SAAC service for ground training at the Cape Town Drill Hall soon after their arrival in February 1915.[6]

By June 1915 the SAAC commanded by Major Gerard Wallace, was deployed to its first operational airfield at Karabib in German West Africa. Operations were in support of Gen. Botha's South African ground forces, flying reconnaissance and leaflet dropping missions from Karbib and later from Omaruru, where improvised bombing missions were added when pilots started dropping hand grenades and rudimentary bombs by hand.[7] On 9 July 1915, the German forces capitulated and most of the pilots and aircraft of the SAAC were sent to Britain in support of the Commonwealth war effort.

Although the SAAC remained active, its activities were limited to ground training at the Cape Town Drill Hall using the two Jeannin Taubes and two damaged (and now no longer air-worthy) B.E.2c's, while the pilots who had been detached to the RFC were grouped to form No. 26 Squadron RFC at Netharavon, becoming an independent squadron on 8 October 1915. No. 26 Squadron was equipped with the ex-SAAC Henri Farman F-27's used in German West Africa and B.E.2c's from the RFC. Shortly after becoming operational, the squadron was shipped to Kenya in support of the war effort in German East Africa, landing in Mombasa on 31 January 1916.[8]

The eight aircraft had been shipped in wooden crates and were re-assembled in Mombasa and then flown to a forward airfield prepared inside German East Africa at Mbuyuni, with the South African and British pilots of 26 Squadron (now known as "The South Africa Squadron") being billeted in tents close to their aircraft.[9] The squadron flew reconnaissance and observer missions throughout the campaign until February 1918.[10] The squadron was returned to the UK via Cape Town and arrived at Blandford Camp on 8 July 1918 and was disbanded the same day.[11]

While the SAAC were engaged in German West and East Africa, many South Africans traveled to the United Kingdom to enlist with the Royal Flying Corps.[10] The number of South Africans in the RFC eventually reached approximately 3,000 men and suffered 260 active-duty fatalities. South African airmen took part in aerial reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions over the Somme during the war. Forty six pilots became fighter aces shooting down five or more enemy aircraft, with the most successful, Andrew Beauchamp-Proctor being the British Empire's fourth most successful ace with 54 victories.[12][13]

A number of South Africans took part in the civil war which took place in Eastern Europe between 1917 and 1920. The North Russian Expeditionary Force had an RFC and RNAS detachment which landed in Murmansk in June 1918 and a second expeditionary force with further air assets arrived in 1919. A Sopwith Camel equipped flight of No. 47 Squadron RAF was commanded by South African Capt. Sam Kinkead and a number of South African pilots flew with the squadron, amongst them Kennith van der Spuy who was to become Director-General of Technical Services in the Union Defence Forces from 1940 to 1945 as well as Pierre van Ryneveld who was to become the Chief of Staff of the Union Defence Force during the Second World War.[10]

Inter-war period

De Havilland/Airco DH.9: 49 of these aircraft were donated as part of the Imperial GiftOn conclusion of the First World War, the British Government donated surplus aircraft plus spares and sufficient equipment to provide the nucleus of a fledgling air force to each of its Dominions. As part of this donation, which was to become known as the Imperial Gift[14], South Africa received a total of 113 aircraft from both the British Government (100 aircraft) as well as from other sources (13 aircraft)[14] The first batch of aircraft were taken into service at the Aircraft and Artillery Depot at Roberts Heights in Pretoria in September 1919[14] and on 1 February 1920 the South African Air Force was established with Col. Pierre van Ryneveld as the Director Air Services.[15] Not all of the aircraft which had been received were assembled immediately and two of the Avro 504K's were sold to the South African Aerial Transport Company. The assembled aircraft were moved to a site at Swartkop, three kilometres east of what was then Roberts Heights which had been converted from a farm to the first air force aerodrome.[16] No. 1 Flight was established on 26 April 1921, commanded by Lt. J. Holthouse and was joined by a second flight in 1922 with these two flights forming 1 Squadron, the first South African Air Force squadron, equipped with 3 DH.9's, 2 Avro 504's and one SE.5a.[17]The trial roundel used between December 1920 and December 1921.[17]

In December 1920 the South African National insignia was added to aircraft for the first time. An Orange, Green, Red and Blue roundel was added to an Avro 504K for trial purposes but the colours were found to be unsuitable and were replaced with a Green, Red, Lemon, Yellow and Blue roundel in December 1921. These colours remained until 1927 when they were replaced with the Orange, White and Blue roundels.[17]

The first operational deployment of the newly formed Air Force was to quell internal dissent, when in 1922 a miner s strike on the Johannesburg gold mines turned violent and led to the declaration of martial law. 1 Squadron was called to fly reconnaissance missions and to bombard the strikers positions. Sorties in support of the police amounted to 127 flight hours between 10 and 15 March and this inauspicious start for the SAAF lead to two pilot losses, two wounded and two aircraft lost to ground fire.[15] The SAAF was again deployed to suppress the Bondelzwart Rebellion at Kalkfontein between 29 May and 3 July 1922.[18]

The Great Depression of 1929 - 1933 had lead to forced reductions in defence spending and the South African military had received minimal funding, leading to a reduction in staff, facilities and resources. Economic recovery became visible in 1933 and lead to an increase in the demand for gold resulting in significant growth for the Union economy. In 1934 a five year expansion plan was announced whereby the Union Defence Forces (UDF) were to receive increased funding and were to be markedly expanded.[19]

World War II

The Hawker Hartbeest: one of the most common early WWII fighter aircraft of the SAAFWhen war broke out on 3 September 1939, the SAAF was ill prepared, not only for the defence of the Union but also lacked the capability to provide any tangible support to the Commonwealth. The 1934 Five Year Plan for expansion had not materialised and the SAAF still consisted of only 160 permanent force officers, 35 cadets and 1 400 other ranks organised into one operational and two training squadrons, as well as five shadow squadrons that existed only on paper.[19] The training schemes implemented since 1934 had focused on volume and although over 1,000 pilots had been trained - these pilots could fly, but were not competent as combat pilots. Also, no air observers had yet been trained.[20] The 104 aircraft air fleet was considered obsolete with the front-line operational aircraft consisting of four Hurricanes Mkl's, one Blenheim bomber and one Fairey Battle.[19] Fortunately, there was no enemy activity in the region in the initial period of the war, permitting time to expand and re-structure the SAAF.[21]

Urgent remedial measures were implemented; The lack of combat ready pilots was greatly alleviated by the establishment of the Joint Air Training Scheme (JATS) in order to train Royal Air Force (RAF), SAAF and other allied air and ground crews at 38 newly created South African air schools. Resources were increased and by September 1941 the SAAF had a personnel strength of 31 204, of whom 956 were pilots, 715 observers and air-gunners, 2 943 basic trainees and 4 321 members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.[19] Urgent aircraft procurement programs resulted in the total number of military aircraft in the Union being increased to 1 709 aircraft (South African based aircraft, excluding those deployed in the different operational areas).[19]

Coastal defence

At the outbreak of war, South Africa had no naval vessels and the UDF's first priority was to ensure the safety of the South African coastal waters as well as the strategically important Cape sea-route. In order to provide credible maritime patrol operations, the SAAF took over all 29 of South African Airways' passenger aircraft: eighteen Junkers JU-86Z-l's to be used in the maritime patrol role and eleven Junkers JU-52's for transport purposes.[19] SAAF maritime patrols commenced on 21 September 1939 with 16 Squadron flying three JU-86Z's from Walvis Bay.[22] By 1940, the JU-86s were replaced by Anson's and SAAF Coastal Command had been established, eventually consisting of 6, 10, 22, 23, 25, 27 and 29 Squadrons.[23]

By the end of World War II, SAAF aircraft in conjunction with British and Dutch aircraft stationed in South Africa, had intercepted seventeen enemy ships, assisted in the rescue of 437 survivors of sunken ships and attacked 26 of the 36 enemy submarines that operated around the South African coast and had flown 15,000 coastal patrol sorties by August 1945.[19]

East Africa

Ju86 similar to that flown by the SAAF in a bomber role in East Africa In December 1939 the Duke of Aosta had sent a report to Mussolini recording the state of chronic unpreparedness of the Allied Forces in East Africa. The collapse of France in 1940 had prompted Mussolini to join the war on the side of the Axis and as a result, air force elements were moved to forward positions in occupied Abyssinia to mount air attacks on Allied forces before they could be re-enforced.[24] These deployments prompted Allied action and on 13 May 1940, 1 Squadron pilots were sent to Cairo to take delivery of 18 Gloster Gladiators and to fly them south, to Kenya for operations in East Africa. 11 Squadron equipped with Hawker Hartbees followed to Nairobi on 19 May 1940 and were joined by the Ju86 s of 12 Squadron on 22 May 1940.[24] Italy declared war on 10 June 1940 and on the following day, the Ju86 s of 12 Squadron lead the first air attack by the SAAF in World War II.[24] During the campaign, numerous SAAF aircraft were involved in air combat with the Italian Regia Aeronautica and provided air support to South African and Allied forces in the ground war. By December 1940, ten SAAF squadrons plus 34 Flight, with a total of 94 aircraft were operational in East Africa (1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 14, 40, 41, 50 and 60 Sqn s).[25] The last air combat took place on 29 October and the Italian forces surrendered on 27 November 1940 after which a reduced SAAF presence was maintained in East Africa for coastal patrol purposes until May 1943.[26]

Western Desert and North Africa

ace]] in an SAAF unit during World War II.

The SAAF fighter, bomber and reconnaissance squadrons played a key role in the Western Desert and North African campaigns from 1941 43.[15] A memorable feat was the SAAF Boston bombers of 12 and 24 Squadrons who dropped hundreds of tons of bombs on the Afrika Korps as it was pushing the Eighth Army back towards Egypt during the "Gazala Gallop" in early 1942.[15] The SAAF bombers were also instrumental in continually harassing the German forces retreating towards the Tunisian border after the Battle of Alamein whilst the South African fighters of 223 Wing contributed towards the Allied Desert Air Force attaining air superiority over the Axis air forces by the beginning of 1942.[15] Between April 1941 and May 1943, the eleven SAAF squadrons flew 33 991 sorties and destroyed 342 enemy aircraft.[15] The South Africans had the further distinction of dropping the first and last bombs in the African conflict - the first being on 11 June 1940 on Moyale in Abyssinia and the last being on the Italian 1st Army in Tunisia.[27] The SAAF also produced a number of SAAF WWII air aces in the process, including John Frost, Sailor Malan, Gerald Stapleton and Marmaduke Pattle.[28]


In fear of Japanese occupation and subsequent operations in the Indian Ocean in close proximity to South African sea lanes, Field-Marshal Smuts encouraged the preemptive Allied occupation of the island of Madagascar.[29] After much debate and further encouragement by General de Gaulle (who was urging for a Free French operation against Madagascar), Churchill and the Chiefs of Staff agreed to an invasion by means of a strong fleet and adequate air support.[30] In March and April 1942, the SAAF had been conducting reconnaissance flights over Diego Suarez and 32, 36 and 37 Coastal Flights were withdrawn from South African maritime patrol operations and sent to Lindi on the Indian Ocean coast of Tanzania, with an additional eleven Beauforts and six Marylands to provide ongoing reconnaissance and close air support for the planned operation - to be known as Operation Ironclad.[31]

During the amphibious / air assault carried out by the Royal Navy and Air Force on 5th May, the Vichy French Air Force consisting mainly of Morane fighters and Potez bombers had attacked the Allied fleet but had been neutralised by the Fleet Air Arm aircraft from the two aircraft carriers. Those remaining aircraft not destroyed were withdrawn by the French and flown south to other airfields on the island.[32] Once the main airfield at Arrachart aerodrome in Diego Suarez had been secured (13 May 1942), the SAAF Air Component flew from Lindi to Arrachart. The air component consisted of thirty-four aircraft (6 Marylands, 11 Beaufort Bombers, 12 Lockheed Lodestars and 6 JU52's transports).[32] By September 1942, the South African ground forces committed to Ironclad had been party to the capturing the southern half of Madagascar as well as the small island of Nossi Be with the SAAF air component supporting these operations. During the campaign which ended with an armistice on 4 November 1942, SAAF aircraft flew a total of 401 sorties with one pilot killed in action, one killed in an accident and one succumbing to disease. Seven aircraft were lost, only one as a result of enemy action.[33]


South Africans first became involved in the Italian campaign in July 1943 when the SAAF supported the invasion of Sicily - 1 Squadron operated combat air patrols over the beaches for the Operation Husky landings[34] while 2,[35] 4[36] and 5[37] Squadrons provided fighter bomber support during the Sicilian campaign. 30 Squadron (flying as No. 223 Squadron RAF during the campaign) provided light bomber support from Malta[38] and 60 Squadron was responsible for photo reconnaissance flights in support of all Allied forces on the island.[39]

Berlin airlift

Post-war, the SAAF also took part in the Berlin airlift of 1948 with 20 aircrews flying Royal Air Force Dakotas. 4,133 tons of supplies were carried in 1,240 missions flown.[40]

Korean War

Plaque at the Union Buildings commemorating SAAF losses during the Korean War. In the Korean War, the famous 2 Squadron ("The Flying Cheetahs") took part as South Africa's contribution. It won many American decorations, including the unusual honour of a United States Presidential Unit Citation in 1952:

2 Sqn had a long and distinguished record of service in Korea flying P-51D Mustangs and later F-86F Sabres. Their role was mainly flying ground attack and interdiction missions as one of the squadrons making up the USAF's 18th Fighter Bomber Wing.
During the Korean conflict the squadron flew a grand total of 12 067 sorties for a loss of 34 pilots and two other ranks. Aircraft losses amounted to 74 out of 97 Mustangs and four out of 22 Sabres. Pilots and men of the squadron received a total of 797 medals including 2 Silver Stars - the highest award to non-American nationals - 3 Legions of Merit, 55 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 40 Bronze Stars.[41]

2 Squadron's casualties included 8 prisoners-of-war, 20 men killed in action, and 16 wounded in action.[41]

When the Union Defence Forces were reorganised into individual services in 1951, the SAAF became an arm of service in its own right, under an Air Chief of Staff (who was renamed "Chief of the Air Force" in 1966). It adopted a blue uniform, to replace the army khaki it had previously worn.

The SAAF was scaled down in the 1950s, and rebuilt in the 1960s, after South Africa had become a republic, but before diplomatic isolation and the United Nations arms embargo had begun to have an effect.

In 1960 the SAAF had three groups - Inland Group, Maritime Group, and Maintenance Group. (Official Yearbook of the Union of South Africa, 1960)

Border War

From 1966 to 1989, the SAAF was committed to the Border War, which was fought in northern South West Africa and surrounding states. At first, it provided limited air support to police operations against the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (the military wing of SWAPO, which was fighting to end South African rule of South West Africa). Operations intensified after the defence force took charge of the war in 1974.

The SAAF provided air support to the army during the 1975-76 Angola campaign, and in the many cross-border operations that were carried out against PLAN bases in Angola and Zambia from 1977 onwards.

At least two MIG-21s of the Angolan Air Force were shot down by 3 Squadron SAAF Mirage F1s in 1981 and 1982.[42]

The SAAF was also heavily involved in the 1987-88 Angola campaign, before the peace settlement that ended the conflict. The international arms embargo imposed against the then-apartheid government of South Africa, meant that the SAAF was unable to procure modern fighter aircraft to compete with the sophisticated Soviet-supplied air defence network and Cuban Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23s fielded in the latter part of this conflict. South Africa collaborated with Israel, obtained blueprints by stealth, and innovatively designed and delivered the Cheetah fighter to overcome this challenge, while the Israelis delivered their Kfir fighter out of this joint venture. Both aircraft could use MiG engines which were easily obtained in either region.[43]

From 1990 with the perceived reduction in threat, SAAF operational strength began to be reduced.[44] The first short term steps entailed the withdrawal of several obsolete aircraft types from service, such as the Canberra B(1)12, the Super Frelon and Westland Wasp helicopters, the Kudu light aircraft and the P-166s Albatross coastal patrol aircraft. Other initial measures included the downgrading of Air Force Base Port Elizabeth and the disbanding of 12, 16, 24, 25, and 27 Squadrons. Two Commando squadrons - 103 Squadron SAAF at AFB Bloemspruit and 114 Squadron SAAF at AFB Swartkop - were also disbanded.

Since 1994

After the first multi-racial elections were held in 1994, the SAAF became an integrated air force as part of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

In October 1999 16 Squadron SAAF was reformed to operate the Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter.

As of 2007 the SAAF has about 8 000 regular uniformed members augmented by about 1 500 civilians and roughly 900 reserves. A budget of R9 billion (roughly US$1.1 billion at March 2008 exchange rates) was allocated for FY2008\2009.[45] The reason for the apparent large increase over the previous financial year's amount of roughly US$350 million, is the fact that in the 2008/2009 budget documents, the payments for new aircraft acquisitions have been included in the regular air force budget and then again, in the special defence account budget.

The SAAF does suffer from a severe shortage of pilots and technical personnel. The impact of this is that the combat force is in effect smaller than it appears on paper. There are currently 60 posts for combat pilots, of which only 34 are filled. Other numbers include: Helicopter Pilots; 167 with 58 vacant posts; Transport Pilots 156 with 48 vacant posts; and the SAAF also has currently 12 vip and 7 maritime pilots. Of the 1630 posts for technical support crew, only 763 are filled. Engineers are down too from 122 posts with only 52 filled.

However, the South African National Defence Force was to recruit 11,000 new soldiers, airmen, sailors and medics in 2010, taking advantage of a R700 million allocation for that purpose in Finance Minister Trevor Manuel s February budget.


Rank insignia

In 2002 the Air Force officer rank insignia was changed from one which was shared with the Army to a new pattern based on stripes. The Air Force stated that this was "in order to bring it more in line with international forms of rank".[46]



Medals and Decorations

A new set of emblems, medals and decorations were introduced on 29 April 2003. The new range of medals and decorations for which SAAF personnel are eligible include:[47]

  • Bravery Decorations: Nkwe ya Gauta (NG), Nkwe ya Selefera (NS) and Nkwe ya Boronse (NB)
  • Merit decorations for leadership, meritorious conduct or devotion to duty: iPhrothiya yeGolide (PG), iPhrothiya yeSiliva (PS) and iPhrothiya yeBhronzi (PB)
  • Mention in Dispatches: Okhankanyiweyo. Mention by Service Commanders via the Human Resource Support Centre, Section Honours and Awards.
  • Campaign medals: Tshumelo Ikatelaho Medal
  • Service awards: The "Medalje vir Troue Diens" (awarded for ten years' good service with bar for each additional ten years)

Order of battle and equipment


Aircraft Inventory

Class Aircraft Country of Origin Type Variants Number in service
Fighter Saab Gripen Multirole fighter C and D (single and twin seat) 22[49][50]
Trainer British Aerospace Hawk Lead in fighter trainer Mk120 24[51]
Pilatus PC-7 MkII Trainer PC-7 MkII 52[52]
Helicopter Atlas Oryx Medium transport helicopter MKI and MKII 40[53]
Denel Rooivalk Attack helicopter Mk I 11
MBB/Kawasaki BK 117 Utility helicopter BK 117 4[54]
Agusta A109 Light utility helicopter A109LUH 27[55]
Westland Super Lynx Maritime helicopter Mk300 4[56]
Transport Lockheed C-130 Hercules Medium transport C-130BZ 7[57] [58]
Douglas C-47 Turbo Dakota Maritime patrol / transport /electronic warfare C-47TP 10[59]
Cessna 208 Light utility / observation 208B 10
Beechcraft Super King Air Light transport King Air 200/King Air 300 4
Pilatus PC-12 Light transport PC-12 1[60]
CASA C-212 Aviocar Light transport 212-200 / 212-300 4
737-based Boeing BBJ Presidential transport 1
Dassault Falcon 900 VIP transport 1
Dassault Falcon 50 VIP transport 2
Cessna 550 Citation VIP transport 2

Weapon Systems

For weapon system no longer in use, see List of obsolete weapon systems of the South African Air Force.

Weapon systems of the South African Air Force
Type Manufacturer Model Country of Origin Platform
Air to Air Missile Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T[47] Gripen C, Gripen D
Denel Dynamics A-Darter[61] Gripen C, Gripen D, Hawk 120
Air to Surface Missile Denel Dynamics Mokopa[61] Rooivalk
Reconnaissance / Targeting Pod Northrop Grumman Litening III targeting pod[47] Gripen C, Gripen D
Thales Vicon 18-601E[47] Hawk Mk 120
Rocket Launcher Type 159 Launcher[47] Rooivalk
Rocket Forges de Zeebrugge FZ90 70mm FFAR[47] Rooivalk
Guided Bomb Lockheed Martin GBU-12 Paveway II[47] Gripen C, Gripen D
Denel Dynamics Umbani PGM[61] Gripen, Hawk Mk 120
Free-fall Bomb Reunert Technology Systems[62] 120 kg Fragmentation Bomb[47] Gripen C, Gripen D, Hawk Mk 120
Reunert Technology Systems[62] 120 kg Low-Drag Bomb[47] Gripen C, Gripen D, Hawk Mk 120
Reunert Technology Systems[62] 145 kg Bomb[47] Gripen C, Gripen D, Hawk Mk 120
Reunert Technology Systems[62] 460 kg Bomb[47] Gripen C, Gripen D, Hawk Mk 120
Reunert Technology Systems[62] 12.5 kg Practice Bomb[47] Hawk Mk 120
Reunert Technology Systems[62] 4.5 kg Practice Bomb[47] Hawk Mk 120
Guns GIAT[63] F2 20mm Cannon[47] Rooivalk
Mauser-Werke Oberndorf[64] BK 27 27mm Cannon[47] Gripen C
Royal Small Arms Factory Aden 30mm cannon[47] Hawk Mk 120
FN Herstal 7,62mm LMG[47] Oryx
FN Herstal M3M 0.5 inch Machine Gun[47] Super Lynx 300


The Air Force Conventional Reserves are a pool of reserve posts created to serve the SAAF and augment regular units as and when needed. All trades in the SAAF are represented in the reserves, e.g. pilots, security squadron personnel etc. The Air Force Territorial Reserve currently consists of nine squadrons of privately owned aircraft operated by reserve pilots on behalf of the SAAF who assist in light transport and observation roles.[65]

Other establishments and units

South African Air Force Memorial

The South African Air Force Memorial is a memorial to South African Air Force members who have died whilst in service of the South African Air Corps and the South African Air Force from 1915 to the present. The memorial is located at Swartkop outside Pretoria.

South African Air Force Museum

The South African Air Force Museum houses, exhibits and restores material related to the history of the South African Air Force. It is spread across three locations; AFB Swartkop outside Pretoria, AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town and at the Port Elizabeth airport. Swartkop is the largest of the three museum locations, occupying at least five hangars and contains a number of Atlas Cheetahs as well as a Cheetah C flight simulator.

Silver Falcons

The Silver Falcons are the aerobatic display team of the South African Air Force and are based at Air Force Base Langebaanweg near Cape Town. The Silver Falcons fly the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Astra, the basic trainer of the SA Air Force in a 5-ship routine. The main purpose is to enhance the image of the South African Air Force, encourage recruitment and instill national pride through public display.




External links

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