SANDF – taking the military to the people at this year’s Rand Show
When this year’s Rand show opens on Friday it will have a distinctly military feel to it with all four arms of service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) taking part in arena and static displays. In addition to a variety of military equipment ranging from dive tanks through to specialist mobile radar units, the defence force is also using the Johannesburg exhibition as a recruitment platform. Demonstrations and exhibitions are going to be backed by personnel from the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Army, SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) and SA Navy ready to answer questions about the many careers available to young South Africans wanting to serve in uniform. To whet the appetite show-goers will be able to experience what Rand Show organisers are calling a “thunderous capability display” in the main arena over the Easter weekend. “There will be enough simulated battles, big bangs and roaring engines to thrill the whole family,” the Rand Show organisers said. Arena displays aside, the SANDF is taking more than ten thousand square metres of exhibition space to show, among others, quadbikes, horses and dogs, including pups that will be trained as working dogs, to help safeguard South Africa’s borders. The SA Army Infantry Formation will show its mobile, but ageing, Ratel infantry fighting vehicle as well as Casspir vehicles and its full range of platoon weapons.
Other SA Army exhibits will be the Olifant Mk II tank on a transporter. The Ratel ZT3, Rooikat armoured fighting vehicle, the 155 mm G5 gun, the 120 mm M5 mortar, the 35 mm air defence gun, and the 23 mm Bosvark anti-aircraft gun and radar system used by the Air Defence Formation of the landward service. Communication and signals used by the Signal Formation and its various groups and regiments will include diorama battlefield miniatures for a hands-on feel on the modern African battlespace. Medical support is a major component of any military and SAMHS will showcase its abilities in a field hospital and the Mfezi ambulance, a truly go-anywhere vehicle. In addition to some weapons they use to execute their dangerous and specialist taskings, the SA Special Forces will show various types of boats they use to get in and out and the techniques they are trained for to survive sea, land and urban situations. Johannesburg is a long way from the coast but this has not deterred the SA Navy, which will be showing a dive tank, riverine patrol boat, boarding boat, mine countermeasures as well as active displays of hydrography and seamanship. A highlight of the Navy exhibit promises to be a defence display including 40/60 Bofors gun, Umkhonto missile, three-pound gun and the mounted twin 12.7 mm gun. The SAAF will be active participants in the arena programme and will also show the Rooivalk combat support and Oryx medium transport helicopter on its portion of the SANDF exhibit. A military firefighting vehicle – the Buffalo Supreme – is expected to attract a lot of interest while those interested in the mechanics of aircraft will find the simulator, machines, shop, aircraft structure cross-section and visual flying sections right up their street. The Rand Show opens at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec, this Friday (April 14) and runs through to Sunday, April 23. The show is open daily from 9am to 7pm.