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 African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2016 gets underway at Air Force Base Waterkloof  
 Article by Capt Ntokozo Ntshangase; photos by WO2 David Nomtshongwana

The thunderous sounds of Gripen fighter aircraft, the world renowned Silver Falcons and flag past by the Agusta A109 helicopter signaled the opening of the much anticipated African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition 2016 at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria. The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula presided over the official opening parade, which was attended by various dignitaries from the South African government, leadership of the hosting province, South African National Defence Force, Deputy Ministers representing various countries and Captains of Defence Industry.

                                            Agusta A109 helicopters from 17 Squadron performed the flypast at the opening of AAD2016

The exhibition will continue until Sunday, 18 September 2016 and is expected to attract close to 80 000 defence enthusiasts and members of the public. Africa Aerospace and Defence is Africa’s biggest defence and aerospace exhibition, with successful format, which combines an exhibition of air, sea and land technologies, static aircraft display, as well as an air show.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is “Unleashing Africa’s Defence and Aerospace Potential”. Speaking about the relevance of this exhibition, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula remarked that “more than 440 exhibitors from 34 countries as well as 95 display aircraft from several countries” have come to showcase their Defence and Aerospace Potential. “AAD is a platform that enables exhibitors to access the international purchasing and supply chain in aerospace and defence, as well as providing a platform to market both their products and brands”, the Minister said.

                                                        Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula addressing
                                                                                      members on parade during the official opening of AAD 2016


She explained that events of this magnitude contribute to “national skills generation, cost effective strategic positioning with a sophisticated, innovative and internationally focused business base and employment creation and strong attraction of foreign direct investment”. The reasonable part of the exhibition offers a comprehensive youth programme, which exposes young people to engineering and technology, entrepreneurial skills, youth development and career opportunities. According to the Minister, “a skilled youth is key to the future of South African National Defence Force, as the organisation is working towards satisfying the requirements of the Human Resources Strategy and the Defence Review 2015”.

                  Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accompanied by the Premier of Gauteng,
                        Mr David Makhura (black suit) visited the Youth Development Centre

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula visited various information stalls including that of the Department of Defence Youth Development Programme (DoD YDP). The DoD YDP representative, Col August Lekalakala welcomed the Minister to the first ever military tent in the history of the AAD. He explained the role that defence force plays in youth development and the variety of opportunities available within the organisation. “In the military tent, young people will be taught the military way of life, presented with life skills, taken through military drill and they will experience night flying”, he said.

                                                       The SANDF leadership graced the official opening of AAD 2016

AAD 2016 will put emphasis on the development of aerospace and defence sectors in the African continent, while encouraging international markets to invest in skills development. While the event is mainly focused on aviation, the expected international influx will boost the economy of the province, particularly the tourism industry. The event is currently rated amongst the top six exhibitions in the world and it is conducive for business-to-business linkages, and as an ideal platform for innovative discourse on airspace security.



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