- Test Flight and Development Centre SAAF
The Test Flight and Development Centre is a unit of the
South African Air Force. It is currently a test flight and evaluation centre.
South Africa's apartheidpolicies of the time, a number of countries instituted an arms boycott against it in the 1960s. This forced the SAAF to create an indigenous flight testing and development capability to research new technologies and methods and update old ones, and in this light a former graduate of the Empire Test Pilots' School(ETPS) was appointed the SAAF's Chief Test Pilot in 1967 and tasked with improving and expanding the air force's test flying and evaluation capabilities. In 1974 another ETPS graduate took over, and was tasked with creating a specialised test flying and evaluation unit within the SAAF. The end result was that the Test Flight and Development Centre was officially established on 10 August 1975at AFB Waterkloof.
Over the next few years until the imposition of the mandatory
United Nationsarms embargo against South Africa in 1977, additional pilots were sent to the ETPS and to EPNER in Franceto gain flight test experience and expertise. By 1979, the TFDC had grown large enough to merit the allocation of one of the hangar complexes at AFB Waterkloof, and in 1980 it established a satellite unit at Van Ryneveld Airfield in Upingtonto conduct weapons release tests. Once the Overberg Test Rangenear Bredasdorp on the southern Cape coast had been completed, the TFDC moved to an adjacent airfield, now known as AFB Overberg.
Various SAAF types on loan and permanently on strength Hawk, Gripen, Cheetah C, Oryx, A 109 LUH.
The TFDC's largest running project was the operational evaluation of the BAe Hawk Mk.120 and certification of its Adour 951 turbofan engine. Weapons integration was also performed, with the SAAF's series of pre-fragmented bombs. The programme is now largely complete, with one Hawk airframe remaining on strength with TFDC, for further tests. Hawk has entered SAAF service as of 2006.
In 2001 and 2002 it assisted the
Luftwaffein the testing of the Taurus stand-off missile, for which two Panavia Tornadoaircraft have deployed a number of times to AFB Overbergfrom Germanywith the help of a SAAF Boeing 707aerial tanker. [http://www.otb.co.za/pr05_Taurus_freeflight.htm]
The TFDC received the SAAF's first
JAS 39 Gripenin 2006. The aircraft is flown through an extensive test programme, integrating weapons and SAAF spesific avionics etc. During November 2007, the Gripen was shown publicly taking off loaded with eight 'dumb' bombs during weapons integration trials. The major part of the programme is expected to be complete by May 2007, when Gripen will formally be accepted into SAAF service.
Luftwaffe Kormoran Anti Ship missile firings
During 2006 the
Luftwaffedeployed six Panavia Tornadoaircraft to TFDC for live Kormoran anti ship missile firings with a German Navytask group in joint exercises with South Africanforces.
Associated with the acquisition by the SAAF of the
A400Mmilitary transport, TFDC will be responsible for the integration of this aircraft into SAAF service. This is the major upcoming project for the unit, with the first SAAF A400Mdue by 2011.
Overberg Test Range
* [http://www.tfdc.co.za/ AFP Overberg official site]
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