The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has resuscitated hundreds of inoperable military vehicles, giving the army a much-needed boost in its capabilities.
The vehicles, which had been standing idle for years, were refurbished by technical service personnel at De Brug, Army Base outside Bloemfontein. The refurbishment process included repairing or replacing damaged parts, repainting the vehicles, and testing them to ensure that they were in good working order.
According to SABC News, the newly refurbished vehicles were then moved to the combat training centre at Lohatla in the Northern Cape, where they are being used for the annual exercise dubbed “Exercise Vuk’uhlome”.
The resuscitation of the inoperable military vehicles is a major achievement for the SANDF. It will allow the army to undertake a wider range of operations and to respond more effectively to any threats to the country’s security. Over 500 refurbished military vehicles began the move from the Free State to Lohatla on Friday morning for utilisation in November’s Exercise Vuk’uhlome.
The Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya says, “Today as we’re standing here, we’ve got numerous Casspirs, Mambas, Samil 5os, 100s, Samil 50s with trailers, field stoves [and] Unimogs. All these were repaired here and today as we are about to roll them off, we want to say, these vehicles are going to be available.”
“They will be witnessed once again at the exercise, which is the annual flagship exercise of the Chief of the Army, that we call Exercise Vuk’uhlome. This exercise takes place, in one of the main leading training areas, in Lohatla, which we call the South Africans Combat Training Centre,” explains Maphwanya.
The SANDF received some training and technical advice from Cuban technicians.
Similarly, late last year, close to a hundred Cuban military mechanics and technicians from the Caribbean Island nation’s military helped refurbish and repair more than 10,000 Samil and similar vehicles of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Over R277 million have been spent on repairing and preserving military vehicles, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) was informed.
Around 7,750 SA Army vehicles, ranging from Samil trucks to Mamba personnel carriers, Mfezi ambulances, and recovery units have been given a new lease on life. Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces specialist personnel were deployed at vehicle parks and military workshops sited at, among others, Potchefstroom and Wallmannsthal under Project Thusano for the maintenance, repair, and refurbishment of military vehicles.
The refurbished military vehicles will be exhibited at the Department of Defence mobilisation centre before being moved to their new homes at the SA Army Training Centre.
Exercise Vuk’uhlome is the first at the division level in the SA Army since its formation in 1994 – is termed the “flagship annual exercise”. Apart from the brigade level component, Vuk’uhlome will see army Regular and Reserve Force elements exercise with support from the SA Air Force (SAAF).
Last year’s Exercise Vuk’uhlome saw the participation of the Motorised Modern Brigade comprises Headquarters 46 SA Brigade and its subsidiaries for the purpose of the exercise and includes 7 and 14 SAI battalions and General Botha Regiment. The Light Modern Brigade houses SASSIC (SA Army Specialist Infantry Capability), Andrew Mlangeni Regiment and a “quick respond force (sic)”. The final modern brigade – airborne – houses 6 and 9 SAI, 44 Parachute Brigade and 101 Air Supply Unit. Keeping the brigades going is combined maintenance unit comprising 101 Workshop Unit alongside 16 and 17 maintenance units.