Embracing Our Collective Heritage – Revisiting the History of South Africa’s Air Defence Systems in Contemporary Perspectives (Ellisras Control Reporting Post)
Information and photographs by Maj Ntokozo Ntshangase, SAAF Museum
It is usually the actions of the few, outside the normal spotlight and seeking no recognition though much is due, that ensure the colourful and joyous lives of many. It is the sacrifices of the few unsung heroes and heroines that voluntarily leave the comfort of their homes to ensure that others sleep peacefully in theirs. It is a watchful and trained eye of a radar technician that helps avert any possible territorial threat by unidentified military and civilian aircraft.
At the mountain top of Ga Mabula (approximately 1163m above sea level) in the heart of the bushveld, approximately 27km northeast of Ellisras lies a Mono-pulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR) and an AR-3D Umlindi long-range deployable radar system, which provide a real-time Air Picture display with a 3D multi-purpose function. These capabilities are which are all in the employ of and maintained by 140 Squadron. These systems are strategically situated at the Ellisras Control Reporting Post and information on any airspace activity along the northwestern borders of the country is relayed to both the Lowveld Airspace Sector (LASS) at AFB Hoedspruit and Bushveld Airspace Control Sector (BACS) at Air Command, in the provinces of Limpopo and Gauteng respectively.
Compiled by the South African Air Force Museum and information lifted mostly from the Sweeping Circles.
In November 1965, 1 Satellite Radar Station was officially opened and declared operational by the Prime Minister, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd. The Prime Minister was flanked by Minsters of Defence, Jim Fouche; Post and Communications, Albert Hertzog; Secretary for Defence, Mr. Vladimyr Steyn; Head of the SABC, Mr. Piet Meyer; Commandant-General of the SADF, General Rudolph Hiemstra, as well as the Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Henry “Kalfie” Martin.
Although the official operational date is recorded as November 1965, the country's utilisation of airspace control radar system had already received greater attention in the aftermath of World War Two. Already in 1964, the Northern Air Defence Sector located in Devon started testing the Air Defence System using the mobile units like Mariepskop (before permanent structures were installed), Ellisras and Klippan. However, it should be noted that prior to this, the focus was mostly on the defence or security of the country’s coastal economy.
Always watchful – the Air Force's eyes on the mountain top
Author: Maj Ntokozo Ntshangase, Acting OC SAAF
“South Africa requires a responsive and agile air defence capability to deliver airpower to defend and protect the integrity of South Africa's airspace and…..”. Also, “the air defence capability must provide deterrence and powerful interdiction during joint operations, specifically through comprehensive air domain awareness…” (Defence Review 2015: 10-11).
Kimberley: the birthplace of South African military aviation
Author: WO2 Alan Taylor, SAAF Museum historian
At Alexandersfontein, just outside Kimberley’s city centre and adjacent to the local airport stands a simple corrugated building.
Few realise that the building is a reconstruction of an early 1900s aircraft hangar and that the site is where our first military pilots received their basic flying training.
Inside the building is an exact full-size replica of an aircraft known as the Paterson Biplane no. 2 – the aircraft used 108 years ago to train those men and Africa’s first qualified female pilot, Ann Maria Bocciarelli.
SAAF Museum celebrates International Museum Day
The South African Air Force Museum joined the global community in the celebration of International Museum Day on 18 May 2021 amid the persistent COVID-19 pandemic. In order to allow for more participation and whilst adhering to COVID-19 social distancing protocol, celebrations were extended from 17 to 23 May 2021.
This year’s theme was The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine. With this theme, the SAAF Museum provided a platform where members of the public could “create, imagine and share new practices of creation of common values and innovative solutions for the social and environmental challenges of the present”.
Embracing Our Collective Heritage: Attaining Excellence through effective education
Author: Major Ntokozo Ntshangase, SAAF Museum; Photos:
In pursuit of social justice and self-determination, is it generally expected that “nothing is achieved without toil". The struggle against dehumanization and degradation of black South Africans at the hands of colonial apartheid ignited a fierce determination amongst many youngsters of the 1970s to equip and prepare themselves for the unknown future.