AAD 2016 to feature USAF aircraft never seen before in SA?
Whilst the primary focus of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition is to allow defence and security companies the opportunity to showcase their products, it is the array of static and flying aircraft that draws the crowds on the open days. The exhibition trade days run from September 14 to 16 at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion, with the public airs how taking place on September 17 and 18. Whilst it is far too soon to obtain a reliable indication of what aircraft will be in attendance, the number of civilian and military aircraft on static display at AAD 2014 was 104. However, besides the home-based South African Air Force (SAAF) and SAAF Museum aircraft, the only international air force to participant in the static line-up was the United States Air Force (USAF). Participation by the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) was cancelled at the last minute when an AFZ training aircraft crashed a few days before AAD was to be held. The USAF has been a loyal supporter of AAD, particularly so since 2003 when the New York Air National Guard (NY ANG) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) engaged in partnership events. The State Partnership Program links a US state’s National Guard with the armed forces of a partner nation in a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship. This year, the New York ANG hopes to bring to AAD a mix of aircraft never seen in South Africa before as well as familiar aircraft. Chief amongst the new display aircraft expected to appear is the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). With a 20 metre wingspan, the MQ-9 is a larger, heavier, and more capable aircraft than the earlier General Atomics MQ-1 Predator and is operated by the 174th Attack Wing of the NY ANG.