PRETORIA, South Africa – Sixty New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and five aircraft are participating in Africa’s biggest air show Sept. 21-25.
The Guard is exhibiting two C-17 Globemaster III transports, an HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and a remotely piloted MQ-9 at the African Aerospace and Defense Expo.
The air show is held every two years at Air Force Base Waterkloof outside Pretoria. The first three days of the five-day event are a trade show open to defense and aerospace officials, while the last two days are an air show open to the public.
The New York National Guard, which has a State Partnership Program relationship with the South African National Defense Force, has participated in the air show since 2004.
“The New York National Guard has been a consistent presence in the country since 2003, as the first state partnership on the continent,” said Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields, the adjutant general of New York, who is part of the delegation.
Brig. Gen. Gary Charlton, the commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, said his team of 15 Airmen is excited to be participating.
“The trip here to South Africa was a long flight and a lot of work, but the crew has been phenomenal,“ Charlton said.
Along with the HH-60 and HC-130J, 33 Airmen from the 106th Rescue Wing, based at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base on Long Island, brought an inflatable combat raiding boat and a ground tactical vehicle to display.
Thirteen personnel from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard base in Syracuse supplied the General Atomics MQ-9.
The air show began in 2000 and has attracted representatives from as many as 110 countries, with over 280 aircraft on display and up to 55,000 visitors.
Reuben Brigety, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, said the New York National Guard’s commitment to the partnership program continues to strengthen the relationship between the United States and South Africa.