, 12 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
Some info and context on the SANDF's humanitarian aid efforts in Mozambique following the devastating flooding from Cyclone Idai, and an explanation of why the South African Air Force has only been able to send one Oryx, one A109, and a light transport aircraft to assist. 1/
The SAAF has, on paper, about 37 Oryx, 26 AW109, 3 BK117 & 4 SuperLynx 300 helicopters. Only a small proportion of those are available for contingencies, 5 Oryxes are in the DRC, others are in servicing, assigned to standby for SA fire fighting/SAR/etc, or waiting for parts. 2/
Right now that spare capacity for deployment outside of SA is just one Oryx and one AW109. For those following SANDF budgeting this is expected: With present funding the SAAF has long been able only to keep sufficient aircraft airworthy to meet its day-to-day requirements. 3/
That means in any given month there are only enough airworthy Oryxes, AW109s, and BK117s to meet SA's peacekeeping commitments, to provide ongoing training for crews, to be on standby for fire fighting, SAR, and other ordered duties. Any spare aircraft is a bonus. 4/
The same is true for the rest of the SAAF's aircraft, of course. That's why only 2-3 C-130BZs are airworthy in any given month out of a total fleet of 9, because 2 C-130BZs is the mandated availability requirement and the SAAF can't afford a higher availability rate. 5/
As with all things, when it comes to aircraft availability you get what you pay for. Having more of the fleet ready for operations at short notice means having more crew on standby, much more spent on the supply of spares, on ground personnel, on maintenance contracts, etc. 6/
In '99 the SAAF budget was over R6 bn when adjusted for inflation. Today's SAAF budget is less than that, yet its input costs have skyrocketed. Jet A1 cost about R5.6/l (infl adj) in 2000, it's more than twice that now. Spare parts, purchased in dollars, cost twice as much. 7/
That's the primary reason why the SAAF's budgeted and allocated flying hours have dropped precipitously from 35 000 a year in 1999 to just 12 700 this year, which means fewer crews can be trained and kept current in demanding roles like search and rescue. 8/
It's also why, during the 2000 flooding, the SAAF could send a dozen helicopters & transport aircraft to assist at very short notice, because it had far more operational funding, available training hours, and spare capacity than the SAAF of today. 9/
In short, this is something of an inflection point for South Africans. Faced with a severe disaster in Mozambique, the general public seems to want another large SANDF response as was seen in 2000, but has no appetite for the level of funding that would provide that. 10/
We either decide as a country that we want these capabilities & are willing to increase the defence budget to provide them, or we accept that the cost of keeping the budget low means that when disaster strikes we will only be able to send one or two helicopters at best 11/
It's acceptable and justifiable to demand that the defence budget remain low in order to create more space for socio-economic spending in SA. But then we don't get to be upset when we can only send a single Oryx to rescue all of central Mozambique. That's the trade-off. 12/12
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