The Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition is taking place between 21 to 25 September 2022, and will once again bring together aviation suppliers from across the world to South Africa to exhibit the latest technological innovations in the aviation and defence sectors.

AAD IS THE LARGEST GATHERING of the aerospace and defence industry players and buyers on the African continent. It is Africa’s only aerospace and defence expo that combines both a trade exhibition and an air show. Held biennially at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria, AAD provides aerospace and defence companies with the most efficient and effective access to Africa’s aviation purchasing, procurement and supply chains.

The theme for the 2022 show is, “Exploring New Paths, Sharing Solutions, Showcasing Innovation and Capabilities.” The 2022 format remains unchanged with the event keeping to the traditional three trade days and two air show days on the weekend.

AAD organisers say that the exhibition provides a conducive environment for business-to-business linkages as well as strategic platforms to engage in dialogue on international defence, aerospace and other related best practices.

‘There is a special emphasis on general aviation’

At time of writing arrangements for AAD 2022 are being finalised, with over 70% of the space already confirmed and countries such as the USA, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, China, UK, India and Pakistan hosting National Pavilions. The USA is expected to have a particularly strong presence, as is Turkey, with its key position in relation to the Ukraine war.

AAD walks the tricky line of combining both the civilian and military sectors. This year there is a special emphasis on general aviation (GA). Co-convenor is the Civil Aviation Association of South Africa (CAASA). General Manager Kevin Storie says that CAASA is providing a brand new GA hub at the forefront of the show. “This will boost the commercial and recreational side of aviation. The hub will provide direct access to a GA exhibition space and breakaway rooms for presentations. In addition, the Aero Club of South Africa gets its own outside display park for free.”

At time of writing the organisers are hopeful that the final sign-off will be obtained for a drone flying exhibition. This reflects the still growing demand for an exhibition to demonstrate the vast commercial and recreational opportunities in drone operations.

The USA has declared its intention to have a strong presence at the expo. It has announced that it is exhibiting the Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport, the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, a Lockheed C130J Hercules, a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and a Sikorsky UH60 Black Hawk helicopter.

The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large military transport aircraft developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from by McDonnell Douglas and later taken over by Boeing. It was announced that for 2022 there will be two C-17s at AAD.

The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker is an air to air aerial refuelling aircraft developed from the Boeing 367-80 – which became the well-known Boeing 707 airliner. The aircraft has been retrofitted with higher bypass turbofan engines, increasing its fuel efficiency ands thus range.

The C-130J is the latest version of the C-130 Hercules. More than 500 C-130Js have been delivered to 27 operators across 22 countries.

The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk is a medium-lift utility military helicopter made famous by its war exploits as it replaced the iconic Bell UH-1H Huey.

During trade days the USAF aircraft can be viewed on static display. The two airshow days are 24 and 25 September 2022 where it is expected that the C17, C-130J and UH-60 Black Hawk will fly.

Due to severe funding constraints, it is not expected that the South African Air Force will have a significant presence. While it is hoped that they will fly demonstrations with their BAE Hawk Mark 120s, it is considered unlikely that they will be able to return any of their front line Gripen fighters to flight as they have been grounded for over a year due to the non-renewal of their maintenance contracts with SAAB.

It is however hoped that a number of displays will be flown by the SAA formation aerobatic team, the Silver Falcons.

‘AAD is an established platform’

For those more interested in general aviation, the Civil Aviation Association of South Africa (CAASA) acting CEO Kevin Storie says that CAASA is providing a brand-new GA hub at the forefront of the show. “This will boost the commercial and recreational side of aviation. The hub will provide direct access to a GA exhibition space and breakaway rooms for presentations. In addition, the Aero Club of South Africa gets its own outside display park for free.”

Storie points out that, “AAD is unique in that, unlike conventional airshows, it creates a powerful opportunity for the key players in general aviation to interact directly with buyers from all over the world, both from the civilian and commercial sectors. We are pleased to say that we already have almost all the key GA players signed up as exhibitors.”

Exhibition director Michelle Nxumalo says that some of the key plans for AAD 2022 includes diversifying the exhibitor profile to include a focus on new markets such as oil and gas, plus mining and energy.

AAD’s youth development programme (YDP) is aimed at exposing learners to the complex technologies and innovation within the aviation and defence industries. This will be achieved through partnerships with industry organisations.

‘a focus on new markets such as oil and gas’

Launching the 2022 show, South Africa’s Defence Minister, Ms Thandi Modise, said, “AAD is an established platform, refined to suit business and marketing needs which will undoubtably yield a positive return on investment for participants.”

Key metrics of AAD 2018 are that it: hosted 486 exhibitors from 40 countries and 32,538 trade visitors from 112 countries. AAD 2022 expects more than 50,000 visitors and more than 300 accredited media. There were 68 civil and military aircraft on display across the 54,000 square metres of exhibition space.

Regarding Covid, AAD’s Marketing Manager, Nakedi Phasha, says, “Plans are in place to provide our exhibitors with a platform at which you can showcase your innovative resilience in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and your migration towards remaining sustainable in a post Covid era.”

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Exposing schoolkids to military weapons.

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