SAAF helicopters grounded for lack of funds

The helicopters were occasionally enabled, but did not ascend, an anonymous source reportedly told the newspaper on Wednesday.

In the long-term, this reportedly meant pilots could lose their competency skills and that the helicopters would fall into disuse.

Beeld reported that the SAAF's 26 Gripen fighter aircraft, which were also bought in the multimillion-rand arms deal a few years ago, were also rarely used.

A senior South African National Defence Force (SANDF) officer reportedly told the newspaper said the situation was grim.

Suffering airforce
​Amid a 60% budget cut, it was considering selling the Gripens and not just the A109 helicopters, but all helicopter operations.

Military expert Helmoed-Romer Heitman reportedly said the SAAF was suffering from the government's indecision about what it expected from an army.

"An air force without fighter aircraft is a dead duck in Africa's military context. An army without helicopters and transport aircraft is a dinosaur in a swamp," he was quoted as saying.

"An army without attack and tactical transport helicopters is a lame duck. A navy without helicopters and maritime patrol planes is blind."

According to the newspaper the SANDF did not respond to requests for comment. – Sapa

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