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Air Force Order of Battle

The SAAF structure comprises the SAAF Headquarters (AFHQ), including a headquarters unit, an Air Force Command Post with eight Forward Air Force Command Posts, a Southern Air Force command post with one Forward Air Force Command Post, three Airspace Control Units with one Protection Squadron, as well as the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre (JARIC) and the SA Air Force Telecommunications Centre (SAAFTC) under operational command. At command level, the executive SAAF structure under the command of AFHQ comprises the SAAF Training Command with six main training institutions and two protection squadrons, an Air Logistic Command with eight air depots, two diverse units and two protection squadrons.

Also under the command of AFHQ, the SAAF executive structure further com- prises two main fighter bases with two protection squadrons and five permanent bases with five protection squadrons and thirty six flying related units. The Test Flying and Development Centre with one protection squadron (at Overberg) also falls directly under the administrative command of AFHQ. The SA Air Force is also designed to deploy two tactical airfield units with two flights of a protection squadron (Task Force] annually.

All regional commands and functional commands are answerable to air force headquarters in Pretoria for all air operations. Until 1993, there were two regional commands, the Western Command and the Southern Command. The Western Command was dismantled in preparation for South Africa's relinquishing control over Walvis Bay in early 1994. The Southern Command, located at Simonstown, has responsibility for several territorial command posts and bases in the southern coastal area. Air force bases not under the direct control of the Southern Command fall under air force headquarters at Pretoria.

The air force has two functional commands, the Training Command and the Air Logistics Command. The Training Command, headquartered in Pretoria, oversees programs in basic training, flying, navigation, logistics training, and other instruction, and controls most major training facilities. The Air Logistics Command controls several air force units, including airfield maintenance units, repair depots, and supply depots. It also provides complete matériel procurement and engineering services, including aircraft management and ground systems support.

Two other functional commands, the Air Space Control Command and the Tactical Support Command, were dismantled in the early 1990s as part of the overall military downsizing. The Air Space Control Command had been responsible for air defenses and control of airspace, in conjunction with civil authorities. The Tactical Support Command had conducted formal operational command and control training, as well as instruction in other air force operations. These responsibilities were assumed by other commands and by headquarters personnel.

In addition to regional and functional commands, the air force has several command posts, which are subordinate to commands. One of these, the Main Threat Area Command Post, is co-located with the air force headquarters at Pretoria. The Main Threat Area Command Post oversees the operations of several air bases, air defense radar sites, and other installations throughout the region. The Southern Command Post, headquartered at Cape Town, oversees operations of bases near Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and is responsible for air force maritime and other operations in these coastal areas.

In January 1990 the Chief of the Air Force announced that the Air Force had entered into a new year and environment that would make new demands and create new opportunities. The first short term steps in the rationalisation of the SAAF entailed the withdrawal of several obsolete aircraft types from service, such as the Canberra B(1)12, the Super Felon and Westland Wasp helicopters, the Kudu light aircraft and the P-166s Albatross coastal patrol aircraft. Other short term measures included the closure of Air Force Base Port Elizabeth and the disbanding of five squadrons, viz 12 Sqn (Canberra), 16 Sqn (Alouette III), 24 Sqn (Buccaneer), 25 Sqn (Dakota) and 27 Sqn (p-166S Albatross).

Personnel and equipment were transferred to other bases. Two Commando squadrons - 107 Sqn at AFB Bloemspruit and 114 Sqn at AFB Swartkop - were also disbanded. The rationalisation programme also made provision for the scaling down of activities in the Southern and Western Air Commands. Southern Air Command was scaled down to a Command Post. Additional steps in the rationalisation program soon followed. Further squadrons had to be disbanded, namely 3 Sqn (Mirage F1-CZ), 4 Sqn (Impala Mk II), 5 Sqn (Cheetah E), 10 Sqn (Remotely piloted vehicles), 30 Sqn (Pumas), 31 Sqn (Alouette III and Puma helicopters), and 42 Sqn (Bosbok). The well known "Cheetahs" (2 Sqn were deactivated and their Mirage III BZ and Mirage III CZ aircraft withdrawn. The squadron was reactivated with Cheetah aircraft at AFB Louis Trichardt in 1993, however.

A number of units were also closed, including Air Force Bases Potchefstroom and Pietersburg, AFS Snake Valley, 81 and 84 Light Aircraft Schools, 89 Combat Flying School, SAAF Road Transport Depot, 402 Aerodrome Maintenance Unit, and the Klippan Control and Reporting Post. Following the transfer of Walvis Bay to Namibia, the Rooikop Air Base was finally evacuated in February 1994. The rationalisation also necessitated the relocation of the squadrons and units. The Central Flying School at Dunnottar was moved to AFB Langebaanweg and Renamed Central Flying School Langebaanweg in 1993. The 83 Jet Flying School (Langebaanweg) and 85 Combat Flying School (AFB Pietersburg) were merged under the latter's name and relocated at AFB Hoedspruit. The Silver Falcons aerobatics team were also moved to AFB Hoedspruit, remaining under the control of 85 Combat Flying School.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 13:09:52 ZULU