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The Bophuthatswana Air Force (BAF) was the aviation branch of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force. The BAF existed from 1987 until 27 April 1994. The primary role of the BAF was to provide support and medevac services to the ground units of the Bophuthatswana army. The BAF operated from several bases, one being Mmabatho AFB.

Bophuthatswana Air Force
Bophuthatswana Air Force Insignia.svg
Air Force roundel
Founded1987 - 1994 (ceased)
Country Bophuthatswana
BranchAir force
RoleAir defence
Size14 officers, 4 Senior NCOs, 42 men in 1988

All surviving aircraft and helicopters were integrated into the South African Air Force after 27 April 1994.


An air component of the BDF was established on 19 March 1981 with the purchase of an Alouette III from the South African Police. It was flown by Major De Villiers and Captain LaGrange of the SAAF, with Warrant Officer Strydom, ex-Rhodesian Air Force as Technical officer and Warrant Officer Viljoen of the South West African Police as Gunner and Navigator.

In 1982, the unit became known as Bophuthatswana Air Wing with the arrival of a 2nd Alouette III and 2 Helio H-295s. In 1983, 2 Partenavia P.68s and an AS-355 Écureuil were purchased - the latter was assigned to VIP transports. In November 1989, it was replaced by an SA-365N1 Dauphin.

In 1985, a CASA 212-200 Aviocar was purchased to transport paratroopers, a CASA 212-300 was received in 1987.[1] The 2 Helios were withdrawn from service and replaced by 2 MBB/Kawasaki BK 117s.

With the arrival of so many new aircraft, the Bophuthatswana Air Wing took the name Bophuthatswana Air Force in late 1987. In 1987 it was the first air unit in South Africa to train and commission Black pilot officers. The complement in 1988 was -

  • Air Commodore Pretorius, Commander, ex-SAP Air Wing
  • Colonel De Villiers, Deputy Commander, ex-SAAF
  • Lt. Col. Taylor, ex-Rhodesian Air Force
  • Major Lagrange, ex-SAAF
  • Major DuPlooy, ex-Selous Scouts Navigator
  • Major Howell, ex-Rhodesian Air Force
  • Captain van der Merwe, SAP Air wing
  • Captain Strydom, ex-RhAF, Ground component (base security & Comms)
  • Captain Nogomela, Ground component (Radar)
  • Captain Steyn, SAAF
  • Captain Grobbelaar, SAP Air Wing
  • Captain Tswelopele
  • Lieutenant Semope
  • Lieutenant Viljoen, ex-SWAPOL Air Wing
  • Drill Sergeant Major Tsolekile, ex-SADF
  • Warrant Officer Labuschagne, ex-SAAF
  • Drill Sergeant Mutwa, ex-SWATF
  • Drill Sergeant Badenhorst, ex-SADF


Aircraft Origin Type In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
Pilatus PC-7    Switzerland training / COIN 3[2]
CN-235   Spain utility / transport 1[2]
C.212 Aviocar   Spain transport 2[2]
Pilatus PC-6 Turbo-Porter    Switzerland transport / liaison / COIN 1[2]
BK 117   Germany utility / liaison 2[2]
Alouette III   France liaison 2[2]
SA365N   France VIP 2[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bophuthatswana Air Force CASA 212-300[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "World Air Forces 1991 pg. 37". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  • Flight Global: World's Air Forces (1990)
  • Frédéric Lert, Ainsi finit la Bophutatswana Air Force, magazine Le Fana de l'aviation, n° 300, November 1994

External linksEdit