On the 21st of February, a wet and blustery Durban day, the South African National Defence Force celebrated Armed Forces Day. The annual event, which is held in a different city each time, is meant to both commemorate the anniversary of the SS Mendi’s sinking and to provide the public with an insight into the capabilities and strength of the country’s military.

The event began with a ceremonial parade at Moses Mabhida Stadium, featuring a South African Air Force flypast, march-pasts by each arm of service, and hundreds of vehicles representing most types currently in use. The event then moved to Blue Lagoon Beach, where a capability demonstration was held to emulate an assault from the sea and the establishment of a beachhead.

Despite weather conditions which restricted some aircraft from flying and created serious challenges for the personnel taking part, both events went off without incident.

A Rooivalk of 16 Squadron, in a white United Nations paint scheme, performs a simulated attack run. By Thomas Holder/ADR

A Rooivalk of 16 Squadron, in a white United Nations paint scheme, performs a simulated attack run. Thomas Holder/ADR


The demonstration is concluded with a flyby of all the helicopters that took part. Thomas Holder/ADR


A pair of GV6 ‘Rhino’ self-propelled howitzers on their transport trucks. Thomas Holder/ADR


Soldiers raced to their firing positions as they fast-roped to the ground. By Darren Olivier/ADR

Soldiers race to their firing positions as they fast-rope to the ground. Darren Olivier/ADR


Oryx helicopters deliver a Gecko vehicle and a mortar team to the beach. Thomas Holder/ADR


Once on the ground, the soldiers take up firing positions. Thomas Holder/ADR


Reinforcements fast-rope from two Oryx helicopters. By Thomas Holder/ADR


A smoke canister is released to mark the landing zone for incoming helicopters and provide a visual wind indication. Thomas Holder/ADR


Over a dozen large pyrotechnic explosions add extra excitement for the assembled crowd. Thomas Holder/ADR


Large pyrotechnics simulate bomb and rocket strikes. Thomas Holder/ADR


Two Rooivalks take part in the demonstration, flying low-level simulated attack runs. Thomas Holder/ADR


The demonstration includes a simulated heliborne assault and casualty evacuation on the roof of a nearby building. Thomas Holder/ADR


After arriving on the beach, the Special Forces operators surveil their surroundings and report back to the main assault force. Thomas Holder/ADR


Special Forces operators emerge from the water after a covert insertion by swimming from offshore. Thomas Holder/ADR


The formation of helicopters initiates the demonstration with a flypast out of the city. Thomas Holder/ADR


The SAS Spioenkop, one of the Navy’s four Valour-class frigates, was out at sea for the demo. By Thomas Holder/ADR


A Military Police officer, armed with a RONI carbine conversion for the Vektor Z88 (Beretta 92), stands guard during the parade. Thomas Holder/ADR


A Namacurra-class harbour patrol boat, with two of the crew wearing fire-protection clothing. Thomas Holder/ADR


The new Riverine Patrol Boat, which just entered service with the Navy’s Operational Boat Division, part of the Maritime Reaction Squadron. Thomas Holder/ADR


Plessey tactical mobile radar and control truck operated by 142 Squadron of the Air Force Mobile Deployment Wing. Thomas Holder/ADR