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Cessna Caravan flying from AFB Ysterplaat
C-130BZ Hercules 401 approaching AFB Ysterplaat on 14 April 2020.
Super Lynx 193
Oryx flying from AFB Ysterplaat

Airforce and Navy support COVID-19 lockdown efforts

Date: 16 April 2020

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By Dean Wingrin

The South African Air Force (SAAF) and the SA Navy (SAN) is playing a vital role in assisting the efforts to combat and contain the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus during the national lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa formally deployed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to all nine provinces to assist the South African Police Service to maintain law and order, support the state departments and to control the border line to combat the spread of COVID-19 during the national lockdown.

Under Operation NOTLELA, the SANDF mission in support of the Government’s lockdown initiatives, the SAAF has positioned aircraft for use by various Joint Tactical Headquarters in different provinces, under the operational command and control of the Joint Operations Division.

Specifically, the SAAF elements available for the operation include:

Air Force Base Waterkloof
•    1 x C-130BZ Hercules (Medium transport)
•    2 x C212 Aviocar (Light transport)
•    1 x C208 Caravan (Light transport)

Air Force Base Swartkop
•    2 x Oryx (Medium helicopter)
•    2 x A109 (Light helicopter)

Air Force Base Ysterplaat
•    1 x C208 Caravan (Light transport)
•    2 x Oryx (Medium helicopter)
•    2 x Super Lynx (Maritime/Light helicopter)

Captain (SA Navy) Jaco Theunissen, spokesperson of the Joint Operations Division, told defenceWeb that the aircraft “are tasked to provide various missions depending on each case scenario for among others; deploying to areas of concern as per requirement; logistic and medical supplies; surveillance of border areas as well as flights for leadership in order to reach deployment areas.”

To date, the SAAF has flown approximately “120 hours combined” in support of Operation NOTLELA.

Whilst somewhat out of the public eye, the SA Navy is also supporting Operation NOTLELA efforts.

In the Western Cape, one platoon of the Maritime Reaction Squadron (MRS) is detached to Joint Tactical Headquarters (J TAC HQ) Western Cape, with another MRS platoon detached to J TAC HQ KwaZulu-Natal.

The platoons are deployed in conjunction with and in support of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) SAS MAKHANDA is currently deployed (under the operational control of the J TAC HQ KwaZulu-Natal) to patrol the sea boarder with Mozambique to ensure that no border crossings take place via sea. The sea patrol covers a maritime area of responsibility stretching from Durban to Ponta do Ouro (RSA/Mozambique border).



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