As promised, Niel Swart braved difficult conditions to share last month’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2016 exhibition with airscape.
Held at the SAAF’s AFB Waterkloof, between Pretoria and Johannesburg, this biennial event is the continent’s major aerospace and defence show. This year it brought together over 500 trade exhibitors, and representation from 105 different countries.
AAD 2016 ran from Wednesday the 14th of September to Sunday the 18th, with the weekdays being trade days and the weekend being for public displays.
Local and international companies used the event to showcase an incredibly diverse range of products – from small satellite technologies to a new airborne system for stopping rhino poachers (a uniquely African need!).
Boeing and SAAB demonstrated their new jet trainer prototype; local giant Denel announced plans to upgrade their successful Rooivalk attack helicopter in partnership with Airbus; while Zambia revealed their new Hongdu L-15 supersonic light attack/jet trainer and assorted ordnance – all Made In China.
In fact, given the diversity, the only real surprise was the lack of coverage the event received outside of Africa. A quick scan of some leading global publications, and even Google, reveals a dearth of post-event reporting. Africa may not compare with Asia or the NATO alliance (yet), but glossing over the aerospace and defence interests of 54 countries on the world’s second-most populous continent seems a little like tunnel vision…
Some 57,000 visitors attended the public days, although rain and low cloud meant some of the Sunday’s aerobatics had to be cancelled, and dust ahead of the change made photographing the Saturday displays difficult.
In all, we really appreciate the job Niel did for us – even rushing back to Waterkloof late on Monday to catch the departing USAF C-17A.
Looking like a “mini-C130 meets Shorts Skyvan”, this is actually a CASA C212 ‘Aviocar’ (serial 8010) operated by 44 Squadron SAAF. South Africa operates four of these highly successful and versatile turboprop STOL transports.