Waterkloof Air Force Base, South Africa - U.S. military equipment and personnel from the New York Air National Guard kicked off the Aerospace Exhibition, at Waterkloof Air Force Base, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, on 25 September 2004. The event marks the first time airframes and Guardsmen from New York have participated in a South African air show.
Visitors will get a close-up look at four static displays during the air show, the C-5 Galaxy, KC-135 Stratotanker, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and the F-16A Fighting Falcon. Aircrew and support personnel from bases in Europe and New York are providing maintenance, security, public affairs and administrative support for the event.
The New York Guard has a special relationship with South Africa via the State Partnership Program, a U.S. Reserve component initiative that aligns U.S. based Guard and Reserve units with militaries of other nations to enhance professional relationships and mutual understanding amongst the participating nations. The New York Guard-South Africa relationship began in August of 2003 with senior leadership discussions and exchanges in Pretoria.
Many countries in Central and Eastern Europe have partnerships with U.S. Guard units, and the U.S. European Command is expanding the program. The South Africa-New York partnership is one of the first on the African Continent. There are 37 partnerships throughout the combatant commands.
"The South Africa Aerospace Exhibition is a unique opportunity for the United States and U.S. National Guard units to partner with other nation's military forces. In turn, the relationship enhances defense relationships, cooperation and interoperability," said Col. Michael Canders, acting representative for the New York State Adjutant General. "We are honored and excited to be here, showcasing our aircraft and supporting the State Partnership program, while in South Africa," he said.
Since the beginning of the New York-South Africa relationship several bilateral engagements have taken place. In December 2003, South African National Defense Forces participated in familiarization exchanges with the 109th Airlift Wing and 106th Rescue Wing. South African Air Force personnel were introduced to U.S Air Force operations and procedures on the C-130 Hercules, which South Africa also flies, into HH-60 helicopter in-flight refueling and rescue operations.
In May 2004, New York Guard members participated in Environmental Security Working Group discussions in Capetown, South Africa. In July 30 NY Guard members participated for the first time in the annual U.S. European Command exercise MEDFLAG 2004.
For more information on the New York State and Republic of South Africa State Partnership Program, visit www.dmna.state.ny.us.