A PARAMEDIC is hoisted into a South African Air Force Agusta A109 helicopter as part of a mass casualty rescue exercise conducted in Margate at the weekend. The simulation brought together emergency services and military personnel and was aimed at preparing the servicemen for a disaster, in this instance a group of hikers that had gone missing after a rock slide. ‘Patients’ were placed in the Umtamvuna Gorge, a location inaccessible by road. Craig Botha, Netcare 911 operations manager in Margate, said the exercise went well. PICTURE:CHRIS BOTHA
A PARAMEDIC is hoisted into a South African Air Force Agusta A109 helicopter as part of a mass casualty rescue exercise conducted in Margate at the weekend. The simulation brought together emergency services and military personnel and was aimed at preparing the servicemen for a disaster, in this instance a group of hikers that had gone missing after a rock slide. ‘Patients’ were placed in the Umtamvuna Gorge, a location inaccessible by road. Craig Botha, Netcare 911 operations manager in Margate, said the exercise went well. PICTURE:CHRIS BOTHA

Money woes ground SAAF choppers - report

By SAPA Time of article published Jul 24, 2013

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Johannesburg - None of the South African Air Force's 18 Agusta A109 helicopters are being used, because there is no money to operate them, Beeld reported on Wednesday.

The helicopters were occasionally enabled, but did not ascend, an anonymous source reportedly told the newspaper.

In the long term, this reportedly meant pilots could lose their competency skills and that the helicopters would fall into disuse.

Beeld reported that the SAAF's 26 Gripen fighter aircraft, which were bought in the multi-million-rand arms deal a few years ago, were also rarely used.

A senior South African National Defence Force officer reportedly told the newspaper said the situation was grim.

Amid a 60-percent budget cut, it was considering selling the Gripens and not just the A109 helicopters, but all helicopter operations.

Military expert Helmoed-Romer Heitman reportedly said the SAAF was suffering from the government's indecision about what it expected from an army.

“An air force without fighter aircraft is a dead duck in Africa's military context. An army without helicopters and transport aircraft is a dinosaur in a swamp,” he was quoted as saying.

“An army without attack and tactical transport helicopters is a lame duck. A navy without helicopters and maritime patrol planes is blind.”

According to the newspaper, the SANDF did not respond to requests for comment. - Sapa

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