CO Solomon M. Kotane, Ad Astra magazine and Photo courtesy
The Chief of the Air Force (CAF), Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano,
today thanked Maj Gen, D.E. (Des) Barker for his forty-years
of devoted service to the South African National Defence
Force, particularly in South African Air Force.
The occasion was the Quarterly Air Force Headquarters Unit (AFHQU)
parade held at Swartkop on 29 May 2008, where CAF officiated
as main functionary. All members of the AFHQ attended the
parade, which commenced at 08h00.
Maj Gen Barker started his career in the SAAF in
1968. He qualified himself as a fighter pilot, with a
passion for aviation over a broad spectrum - an asset which
is also clearly visible in his interest in flying safety and
broad knowledge of aircraft and aviation related topics.
Among numerous highlights during his professional career,
let alone having been a qualified fixed wing experimental
test pilot, he was appointed Officer Commanding of TFDC in
1996, assigned Air Advisor to the South African High
Commission in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2000, after which,
on completion of the ENSP in 2003, he was promoted to the
rank of Brigadier General and appointed Officer Commanding
of AFB Makhado in January 2004. After this tour, in June
2006, he was promoted to the rank of Maj Gen and appointed
Chief Director Force Preparation at the Air Command, a
position that he held until his retirement from the Air
Force at the end of May 2008 after a career that spanned 40
years of dedication and unselfish service towards a cause
that he so firmly believed in himself.
Ad Astra will soon publish an interview with Maj Gen Barker
with specific questions posed to this remarkable career
officer in addition to the input provided above.
Herewith though, an abbreviated CV of Maj Gen Des Barker,
Chief Director Force Preparation.
CURRICULUM VITAE MAJ GEN D.E. BARKER
Maj Gen Barker was born in Pretoria on 25 August 1949. He
was educated at Lyttelton Manor High School and joined the
SAAF in 1968, qualifying as a pilot at FTS Langebaanweg in
1969. He is third generation Air Force, his grandfather
being the twentieth member of the SAAF.
From 1970 to 1983 he was assigned to the Advanced Combat
Flying School flying Vampires and then to FTS Langebaanweg
as a QFI flying Impalas and eventually qualifying as an A1
Category flying instructor. He served time at Research and
Development (AFHQ) as a Project Officer and Production Test
Pilot at Atlas Aircraft Corporation, and also as an
Operational Pilot at 12 Squadron flying Canberras. General
Barker served as a member of the Silver Falcons while at FTS
Langebaanweg and completed a total of 82 operational sorties
while at 12 Squadron, being awarded the Military Merit Medal
for participation in operations.
He was accepted for test pilot training in 1984 and
graduated as a fixed wing experimental test pilot in 1985.
During the period 1986 to 2000, he spent a period at 1 Sqn
flying the Mirage F1AZ, was seconded to Armscor on an
overseas assignment for approximately two years as the
project test pilot on the Cheetah C and paid a short visit
to the Russian Air Force’s Flight Test Centre (Vladimarovka)
flying the MiG-29. He was appointed Chief Test Pilot at TFDC
in 1991, a post he occupied for five years.
During his tour at TFDC he was involved in most of the fixed
wing fighter programmes and weapons development testing.
Firsts include being the first SAAF pilot to fly the Cheetah
C, first flight of the Cheetah D in South Africa, the first
flight of the Mirage IIIRZ/Atar 09K50 engine integration and
the first flight of the Mirage F1 fitted with the Russian
RD-33 engine derivative. He has a unique distinction of
having fired more than sixty-five air-to-air missiles in
He served as the evaluation pilot on the strategic defence
package evaluation team flying the Mirage 2000, the Hawk
100, the Aerovodochody L-159 and the Aermacchi AM-339. As an
original member of TFDC’s establishment in the Overberg, he
was closely involved in establishing the flight test
management and standard operating procedures at TFDC. To
date he has flown some forty-five different aircraft types
and variants of military aircraft, nearly all in the
flight-test environment and has a total of more than 6 650
flying hours of which more than 6 000 are fast jet flying
hours. In 1990, he was awarded the Southern Cross Medal for
his contribution to flight-testing in the SAAF.
He successfully completed the Senior Command and Staff
Course in 1995, being elected as the Course Leader (Eagle)
and achieving the award for Best Student. He was promoted to
the rank of Colonel on 30 January 1996 and was appointed as
Officer Commanding TFDC.
The highlight as Commanding Officer was the recognition of
TFDC as the SAAF Prestige Base and SAAF Prestige Unit in
1999 and also the award of the Frank Carnell Gold Medal by
the South African Institute of Aerospace Engineering to TFDC
for the strategic contribution to Aerospace Engineering in
the RSA. In addition, TFDC was also awarded the SANDF
Productivity Award Gold in 1998. He has been involved in
project management and flight test engineering for
twenty-four years and besides the publication of more than
fifty papers internationally, has also published a flight
safety book on demonstration flying in December 2003
entitled “Zero Error Margin – Display Flying Analysed”.
In 2000, General Barker was assigned as the Air Adviser to
the South African High Commission in London for a period of
three years. On completion of the ENSP in 2003, he was
appointed to the post of General Officer Commanding, Air
Force Base Makhado as from January 2004. In June 2006, he
was promoted to the rank of Major General and assigned the
position of Chief Director Force Preparation.
He is married to Bennie Viljoen, who holds a Masters Degree
in Education, and has two sons, one a commercial pilot and
one a Computer Scientist working as a programmer for an
international software house