Several Turkish military A400M strategic airlift aircraft loaded with military equipment left South Africa on 2 May 2020, after offloading their cargo of medical supplies to help South Africa fight Covid-19.
The first A400M aircraft arrived Cape Town on Thursday 30 April after flying across West Africa and stopped over in Luanda on the way back, with a second arriving that same day from the Horn of Africa, with one stopping over in Somalia to drop off humanitarian aid and medical equipment while four others arrived within the next two days later.
Military Africa learnt from military sources that the some of the military cargo was purchased from South Africa’s Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), consisting of practice and exercises materials used by the Turkish military. Informed sources believes that the cargo might be flares, smoke grenades and blank rounds [if they are to be used in military exercises]. It could also be rocket motors or missile warheads says Military analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman.
Turkey has been doing business with RDM since 2018, and the exported military equipment are destined for the Turkish Machinery and Chemical Industry Institution (MKE) which produces explosives and ammunition for the Turkish ministry of defence. Turkey also currently have a missile design production office in South Africa.
Turkey initially planned to send six A400M, but South African military intelligence refused the attempt, because of there is no customs point here to clear the cargo.
South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee head Ezra Jele said “The permit must be valid because if it’s not valid the [military supplies] can’t leave the country. The decision was taken before the state of disaster,” he said. “It was dealt with long before the February meeting.”
RDM did not want to comment on the transaction.
Since the A400M arriving in South Africa, industry experts have raised concerns about the potential impact of the sale to Turkey particularly as the country is heavily involved in various countries in the Middle East and Africa notably Syria and Libya.