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SAAF aircraft to generate cryptocurrency to save flying costs

Date: 1 April 2019

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The South African Air Force (SAAF), today announced an airborne cryptocurrency mining initiative, called ‘SAAFCoin’. The initiative will make use of the excess electrical power on board its aircraft to generate cryptocurrency and save flying costs.

The plan, developed internally during workshops held to alleviate austerity measures, will see local company, Polar Foil (Pty) Ltd install cryptocurrency ‘mining rigs’ on all the Air Force’s operational aircraft. The rigs will be powered with excess electrical power from the aircraft’s engines.  

According to Air Force spokesperson Hofnar Isidenge, “We have completed a comprehensive study with the help of the CSIR, along with a number of test flights on board an Oryx helicopter, to prove that the concept works. The biggest problems with mining cryptocurrencies are electricity and heat, neither of which are a problem on our aircraft once in flight.”

SAAFCoin has been under development for two years, based on proprietary SITA blockchain technology, initially developed for the South African Reserve Bank.

Isidenge elaborated on the next steps, saying “The SAAF is in talks with all the major cryptocurrency exchanges to list SAAFCoin by the end of the year and we’ve incorporated a number of incentives for miners to take up the blockchain and contribute to the market. While the CSIR’s forecasts show some initial market fluctuations, they expect it to stabilise around mid-2020. By then the high-powered multi-gigahash-per-second computers from Polar Foil, onboard the SAAF’s aircraft, should be able to mine enough new coins to offset flying costs entirely, and maybe even earn a slight profit. There are even work streams active at the moment assessing the feasibility of paying Air Force staff salaries in SAAFCoin.”

Isidenge would not be drawn on whether the systems would be fitted to the SAAF's fleet of VVIP aircraft, despite them accumulating the most flying hours in the Air Force.

The SAAF is also expecting to tout the environmental friendliness, and economic sustainability of the project, which does not use any Eskom mains electricity, but only electrical power that would otherwise have gone to waste.

All the mining computers supplied by Polar Foil are encased in toughened enclosures that meet MIL-STD-810G requirements for onboard military computers.

SAAFCoin has already caught the attention of the South African Navy, which is exploring its own variant tentatively called ‘SANCoin’. A source in the SAN acquisitions office, who asked not to be identified, said “If they’re getting those results with the small computers they can fit in an Oryx, imagine what we can achieve with the tons of space and power in the frigates.” The SAAF and SAN cryptocurrencies are not expected to be interoperable.

Note: This article was originally written as an April Fools prank and should not be taken seriously.


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