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article imageMajor S.African-German air-sea exercise Good Hope IV 'successful' Special

By Christopher Szabo     Mar 15, 2010 in Technology
Cape Town - The South African and German navies and air forces have completed Exercise Good Hope IV, a major bi-annual joint exercise. Digital Journal spoke to the SA Navy’s Director, Fleet Force Preparations, Rear Admiral Karl Wiesner.
The South African Navy says the exercise is the largest conducted by Germany outside its NATO obligations and a major training ground for the SA Navy. The exercise, which lasted from Feb. 15 to Mar. 15., involved two German frigates, the FGS Brandenburg and the Niedersachsen, as well as two combat support vessels, the FGS Westerwald and Frankfurt Am Main.
The German Luftwaffe component included six Tornado fighter-bombers and support aircraft.
On the South African side, the frigates SAS Amatola and Spioenkop took part, along with the submarine SAS Queen Modjadji I and the strike craft Isaac Dyobha, as well as various smaller craft and onshore installations.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) sent two fighter trainer/light bomber Hawk 120s, trainer and support planes, as well as the ageing-but-able C-47TP “Turbo-Dak” maritime patrol aircraft, two Westland Lynx and two Denel Oryx helicopters. (The Lynx helicopters are normally on board the frigates.
Rear Admiral (Junior Grade) Wiesner explained that the origins of the exercise lay in South Africa’s losing its capability to operate on the open sea (or “blue water”) capability when its seagoing warships obtained from Britain’s Royal Navy were scrapped. South Africa decided on buying ships from Germany. Wiesner said:
After negotiations we purchased four frigates and three submarines. A ship or submarine has a 30-35 year life. Regaining the blue water capability (it was also necessary) to instill the skills to use these sophisticated vessels.
He added:
The purpose of our interacting with Germany started eight years ago, that we would like to combine naval and air forcers, to reach the required level and to operated as a combined task force.
Although it may sound very easy, Wiesner explained the importance of various warships (surface and submarine vessels, for instance) “using the same communications procedures.”
South Africa is a very long way from Europe and the Americas so we seek every opportunity to improve our professional culture.
The German Navy’s website described the advantages to both their navy and air forces:
Only few other areas in the world dispose of the suitable measuring equipment, safety measures and consistently good weather conditions for reliable shooting, especially for guided missiles.
The website explained that such live fire missile exercises were not possible in the Baltic or the North Sea. The Germans went on to test fire HARM Sea Sparrow, RAM and Exocet missiles from sea and air.
File photo: A German ship fires a RAM missile.
File photo: A German ship fires a RAM missile.
Bundeswehr Marine
Admiral Wiesner gave more detail for the live missile exercises:
A bonus for us is the missile test range off Cape Agulhas. (Africa’s southernmost point). This is to the benefit of other navies. Our missile range allows foreign countries to test their weapons at a fraction of the cost of Caribbean or North American ranges.
He added:
We plan to execute the serials when we don’t have too fierce a South-Easter (a prevailing wind in the Cape). Unfortunately it didn’t work out so well.
He explained that they had a “black south easter” but weather cannot be planned ahead. He added that the exercise was planned to coincide with the beginning of autumn in the southern hemisphere. This missile range has carefully calibrated scientific instruments, which allow naval forces to work out very exactly the operational ”envelopes” of their missiles, he said.
The SA Navy frigates also tested the South African designed and built Umkhonto missile.
The Foredeck of the SAS Amatola
The Foredeck of the SAS Amatola
Christopher Szabo
It’s a surface-to-air missile which was designed and developed in South Africa with a range of approximately 12 kilometres. We have done extensive firings in the past eight years to confirm that the missile adheres to specifications.
Asked whether Good Hope IV would help the Navy do its share in protecting the upcoming FIFA Soccer World Cup, Wiesner answered:
100 percent. We do a lot of collateral activities. (During the exercise), such as boarding from a sea boat or helicopter, for instance. We have in the South African Navy the Maritime Reaction Squadron (which) we practiced. We practiced disaster relief, in a coastal disaster area to assist local authorities. We had an exercise in Gordons’ Bay.
He added the local “disaster” could include a fire, a flood or a bomb explosion.
While the fourth joint exercise with the German armed forces was reported as a success, reports in an Afrikaans-language newspaper, Beeld, implied the SAS Amatola was severely damaged by an accident involving an engine. Wiesner said:
On the frigates we have a very sophisticated heat suppression system to enhance stealth. On Amatola the system failed allowing the ingress of water which damaged the system. We are in the phase of identifying which elements were damaged and repairing them. Frigates have (three engines). Two diesels, one is a gas turbine. The reason is redundancy of propulsion.
He explained that the frigate could operate on the gas turbine engine alone.
You’ll have redundancy on propellers, electrical generation, air conditioning, firefighting (fire or flood) systems. Typically you’ll have three to four redundancies on a warship. That’s one reason why there is a price difference between a warship and a merchant ship.
The South African Navy’s next major operation will be to protect the sea and coastal areas of the land in co-operation with the Air Force.
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