Africa Aerospace and Defence 2014: military tech meets blue skies

  • The Airplane Factory impressed spectators by taking just four days during the show to build a Sling light sport aircraft from scratch and then get it airborne. Credit: Sean Woods
  • The SAAF Museum’s fully restored P51D Mustang paid homage to the SA pilots who flew these legendary American long-range single-seat fighters in World War II and Korea. Credit: Sean Woods
  • First flown as a trainer by Americans during the 1950s and then employed as a counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft during the Vietnam War, the T28 Trojan is a welcome addition to any airshow. Credit: Sean Woods
  • The South African Air Force’s Silver Falcons take to the skies in their Pilatus PC-7 Mk II basic trainer aircraft. Credit: Sean Woods
  • A cutaway showing the intricate inner workings of Pratt & Whitney’s PT6 turboprop engine used to power Paramount Group’s all-new AHRLAC multi-role aircraft. Credit: Sean Woods
  • A trade visitor tries out Cybicom’s Rotary-Wing Simulator as he practises landing a helicopter on one of SA Navy’s Valour Class frigates. Credit: Sean Woods
  • Paramount Group’s Parabot “transformer” robot – a 1-ton hulk towering 10 metres over onlookers and based on the company’s Mbombe 6 armoured vehicle – was designed to highlight the fight against poaching in Southern Africa. Credit: Sean Woods
  • Trainee SAAF pilots are expected to clock up around 430 flying hours in the Hawk lead-in fighter trainer and pass a number of courses before graduating to fly the Saab Gripen. If necessary, it can also be used in reconnaissance or combat roles. Credit: Sean Woods
  • The SAAF’s 26 Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft (17 single-seater Gripen Cs and 9 double-seater Gripen Ds), operated by 2 Squadron at the Makhado Air Force Base, are some of the most modern variants in the world thanks to their locally developed HMI (human machine interface) system. Credit: Sean Woods
  • A Denel Aviation Systems two-seater Cheetah D retracts its undercarriage during take-off. Used primarily to train pilots for the single-seat derivative and to deliver precision guided munitions, it was retired from the SAAF in 2008. Credit: Sean Woods
  • The Airplane Factory impressed spectators by taking just four days during the show to build a Sling light sport aircraft from scratch and then get it airborne. Credit: Sean Woods
  • An SA Navy Westland Super Lynx multi-purpose helicopter from 22 Squadron gets in on the action. Credit: Sean Woods
Date:10 December 2014 Tags:,

Nothing quite beats the acrid smell of burning jet fuel, the whine and whoosh of turbines coming to life and the earth-shaking roar of sleek flying machines spearing skywards, afterburners ablaze.

This year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition delivered all the high-octane excitement local aviation buffs could ask for. Alternating biennially between the Western Cape and Gauteng, the premier air, sea and land capability showcase on the continent was held this year at Waterkloof Air Force Base, Tshwane.

Whether it was wooing international arms dealers or wowing capacity public crowds, 413 exhibitors from around the world displayed some seriously high-tech wares. Formidable-looking offensive weaponry stood cheek by jowl with sophisticated systems that are equally capable in a peacetime role. Predictably the Chinese, Germans and Russians were strongly represented – but so were South Africans, in the form of the Paramount Group, Denel and the like.

For those who weren’t there to buy, but merely to ogle, the highlight came on the show’s open days, when an assortment of aircraft – both old and new, fixed-wing and rotary, civilian and distinctly warlike – took to the skies.

PM was there to capture the action.