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Four Gripens at Ndola Airport, Zambia. Photo: Johan Morgan (via Beeld).

SA was ready for more

Date: 9 April 2013

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The following is a very rough translation of an Afrikaans article in Beeld newspaper:

South Africa was ready and armed to the teeth for a second intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR), though the army denied it until now.

Photos of the Air Force's Gripen fighter aircraft fully armed with missiles in the north of Zambia is an indisputable proof that South Africa will
in the future climb in with a heavy military fist where the situation requires it.

The four Gripens were noticed on Saturday at Ndola airport in the north of Zambiawhen flying out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the Makhado Air Force Base in Limpopo after the Economic Community of Central African States (Eccas) indicated last week that they will deal further with the crisis in the CAR without South Africa.

It was earlier thought that the Gripens could only be used for the reconnnaissance role.

Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga, defence spokesman, yesterday reiterated that allegations about a South African force buildup in Africa was mere speculation. "We will disclose information when we considere it safe."

John Morgan, a South African working in Zambia, was amazed 
while at Ndola airport on Saturday waiting for his flight and four Gripen fighter aircraft landed.

Shortly thereafter, a South African C-130
Hercules cargo plane with the Gripens ground crew also landed there.

Morgan's photos show the Gripens IRIS air-to-air missiles and equipped with long-range tanks.

According to Beeld's information a stock of bombs was sent in a C-130.

The Gripens landed at the Makhado airport
on Saturday at about 17:00.

Heavy Iyushin-76 and Antonov 124 cargo aircraft have been landing and tacking-off since two weeks ago at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, according to informed sources indicate that further military hardware now to the DRC taken while the equipment meant for the CAR is brought back . Some of this equipment apparently be stored at Entebbe in Uganda for possible future emergencies. About 30 flights with equipment in the past two weeks to Entebbe and Gemena in the DRC.

According to the army the multi-national intervention force against the M23 rebels in the DRC, however, likely to start functioning by July first. South Africa will be part of that power. The Gripens will probably also be used in the DRC.

Mabanga said the United Nations (UN) has given the green light for the intervention force in the DRC. The UN is currently considering the composition of the force, which will probably contain a significant number of South African soldiers.

Several countries, including Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, have indicated that they would contribute troops.

South African elements of the current UN stabilisation force (Monusco) may be added to the intervention force.

The UN has included attack helicopters in its needs statement and that's probably where two Rooivalks will be used.

This is the last two weeks at a time taken in the back a Ilyushin to the DRC. Two Oryx helicopters were already in the country.

Helmoed-Römer Heitman, a military expert, said the army will not be further involved in the CAR, but rather in the DRC where peacekeeprs have been involved for about ten years.


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