Exposed: South African Air Force in critical condition as 85% of fleet remains grounded

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
18 Oct 2023 in News

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kobus Marais MP.

In a shocking revelation, the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, disclosed the dire state of affairs within the South African Air Force (SAAF). A recent response to a parliamentary question by DA member of Parliament Kobus Marais uncovered that a staggering 85% of the SAAF’s aircraft fleet is currently out of action, leaving the nation vulnerable to security threats.

Of the 388 aircraft fleet cited by Minister Modise, the statistics are alarming:

  • 188 aircraft are grounded or non-serviceable;
  • 60 are awaiting major rebuilds;
  • 3 have been discontinued due to age;
  • 27 are awaiting repairs; and
  • 6 are currently undergoing repairs.

The Minister excluded the following further shocking stats, namely that only:

  • 2 of the 26 Gripen fighter aircraft, and
  • 3 of the 24 Hawk aircraft are available

Perhaps the most concerning figure is that 233 aircraft are grounded due to a lack of spares or budget constraints to conduct necessary repairs. This represents more than half of the fleet, a staggering 53%. It means that, in the unfortunate event of a national security crisis, at least half of our air force cannot be deployed to protect our country.

The DA firmly believes that the ANC government’s mismanagement, lack of political will, and neglect have severely compromised the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) combat capabilities. Our nation’s combat readiness has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer a mere concern; it has escalated into a national crisis. In an increasingly dangerous world, the diminishing strength of our military capability poses a severe risk to our national security.

It is particularly distressing to note that the SAAF’s combat aircraft, including the Oryx, Rooivalk attack helicopters, BK 117 helicopter, and the LUH 109, are among the worst affected in terms of active duty. The ANC government’s indifferent and uncaring approach has effectively decapitated South Africa’s air defense capabilities, leaving us exposed and vulnerable.

The DA calls upon the ANC government to stop promising and take immediate action to address this national crisis of epic proportions. The security and safety of our nation should always be the top priority. We urge the government to allocate the necessary resources and implement effective strategies to restore the South African Air Force to its former strength.

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