Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2009-02-24 Reporter: Hopewell Radebe

Airbus Blow to SA Tasks In Africa



Business Day

Date 2009-02-24
Reporter Hopewell Radebe

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The South African National Defence Force says it may have to find alternative aircraft to carry equipment to its peacekeeping units around the continent after worrying reports that the delivery of the Airbus A400M military aircraft will be delayed by structural problems.

“It is a challenge to take heavy equipment from here to the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, and the planes we have been using have limitations,” said the officer commanding the joint operations division’s headquarters, Maj-Gen Barney Hlatshwayo.

The air force had pinned its hopes of delivering heavy equipment such as helicopters and vehicles to its soldiers in the Congo, Burundi and Darfur in Sudan using the new military A400M airlifter. With its hold designed to carry the equipment needed for both military and humanitarian missions, the A400M can bring this material quickly to where it is needed.

SA’s problems are complicated by the fact that it has to replace its old fleet of the Casa and C130 Hercules ­ some more than 45 years old ­ that have been used to transport the equipment to Africa. Other countries affected by the delay include Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Turkey, the UK and Malaysia.

The problems with the A400M are documented in the recently published French Senate report. DefenceWeb reports that they include an
excessive optimism by subcontractors, ineffective programme management and the different and conflicting agendas pursued by partner governments.

With acknowledgements to Hopewell Radebe and Business Day.