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South African Air Force largely grounded, government reports

The Leonardo 109 LUH helicopter was one of several aircraft types listed in the South African defence minister's parliamentary answer on poor type availability. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The South African Air Force (SAAF) is largely grounded, with poor availability rates for both its fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft types, the country's government has reported.

Answering a question in the National Assembly of South Africa, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise cited availability figures, which she said implied that β€œthe defence readiness of the SAAF is compromised”.

While the fixed-wing VIP fleet of one Boeing Business Jet, two Dassault Falcon 50 jets, and one Dassault Falcon 900 jet will be entirely serviceable as of the end of October, its fixed-wing transport, training, and maritime patrol fleets are suffering from poor availability.

For fixed-wing transport, of the SAAF's five Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules airlifters, just one is serviceable while three await repairs and one is at Marshall Air for maintenance and upgrades before being returned to service in November. Of the three Airbus C212 tactical transport, just one is serviceable while two are undergoing repairs. Of the four Beechcraft King Air light transports, none are serviceable. Of the eight Cessna 208 Caravans, none are serviceable. The one Pilatus PC-12 light transport is being repaired ahead of being returned to service in December.

For fixed-wing training, of the SAAF's 35 Pilatus PC-7s, only six are serviceable because of lack of funds for spares and repairs.

For fixed-wing maritime patrol, the SAAF's one DC-3 Dakota is more than 80 years old,with no original equipment manufacturer available to support it. The service is now in discussions for its replacement.

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