The South African Air Force has provided a formal response to our request for more information on the Hawk Mk.120s of 85 Combat Flying School that will be relocating to Air Force Base Waterkloof from Air Force Base Makhado.

85 Combat School will not be relocating to AFB Waterkloof. The SAAF is currently investigating and testing the feasibility to re-open an operational Hawk Squadron at AFB Waterkloof.

There are no plans for any relocation of 2 Squadron at the moment.

Issued by: South African Air Force (Air Office)
Director Corporate Staff Service

Initially, the information we had wrongly pointed to the entire squadron moving, but once it was clear that was not the case our story was amended to indicate that only some of the squadron’s aircraft would move. Now we know why.

The establishment of an operational squadron is an interesting development. It’s possible this might occur through the re-activation of 8 Squadron, which used to fly Impala MkIIs and was disbanded in 2001 with their retirement, rather than merely creating an operational wing inside 85 Combat Flying School but there is no confirmation on that as yet. It’s also still not clear why it will be based in Pretoria and not also at AFB Makhado, but we’re hoping more details will emerge soon.

In the operational role, the Hawk Mk.120s are expected to carry Denel Dynamics A-Darter IR air-to-air missiles, the Al-Tariq guided bomb kit, a 30 mm Aden gun pod and the various ‘dumb’ bombs in SAAF service. Although the aircraft lack onboard radars, they either already or will soon have the ability to receive raw radar data and tracks from the SAAF’s Gripen fighter aircraft and ground-based radars via the Link-ZA datalink protocol.

85 Combat Flying School has 23 Hawk Mk.120s on strength, two (257 and 253) have received minor damage in separate landing incidents but were considered repairable at the time. No further information has emerged yet as to their present status. The remaining Hawk (250) in the SAAF’s inventory is permanently based at the Test Flight and Development Centre at AFB Overberg.