This was announced on Monday by the Chief of the South African Navy Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu who said construction work on the SAS Mendi was at an advanced stage.
The acquisition of the helicopters, including submarines and corvettes, is part of the arms deal that was approved by Cabinet in 2001.
Admiral Mudimu said because the Navy was also engaged in peace support operations in the continent as part of the African Union vision state-of-the-art ships were essential.
“Our participation is essential in bringing a stable and peaceful environment in Africa and that will allow for development and economic growth on the continent,” he said.
“The SA Navy is running full steam in ensuring we have an effective and efficient fighting force that will enable us fulfil our roles.”
And in preparation for the operation of the submarines, a group of 20 submariners is receiving training in general submarine knowledge in India.
The group, made up of 11 combat officers and nine technical officers, is expected to finish its training by next February.
Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu said some of the corvettes were conducting trials in South Africa to see if they are suitable for conditions here and the installation of combat suites.
“Our first submarine, S101was commissioned in November this year in Germany and is now flying the South African flag,” Admiral Mudimu said.
Last month the Department of Defence received four of the 30 state-of-the-art helicopters from Augusta, Italy, to replace the ageing Alouette III fleet.
It is also anticipated that by 2007, the SA Air Force (SAAF) would have acquired a complete fleet of the new helicopters. - BuaNews