South African Air Force to retire C-47 Dakota fleet after 80 years of service 

SAAF C-47 Dakota
Shutterstock // Simon_g

According to reports appeared in the South African media, the South African Air Force (SAAF) is about to retire its last C-47 Dakota squadron after more than 80 years of uninterrupted service. 

The SAAF currently has eight C-47TP Dakota aircraft, although they haven’t flown in the last two years due to the inability to find a technical support provider. 

Remarkably, the oldest of these airframes was delivered in 1944, at the peak of the Second World War and has been in uninterrupted service since then. 

Of the eight remaining airframes it is believed that at least five are in a flyable condition. These were upgraded in the 1990s and had their original piston engines replaced with Pratt and Whitney PT6A 65R turboprops. 

These aircraft are operated by the SAAF 35 Squadron, based at Ysterplaat, near Cape Town. Some of the aircraft were specially modified to perform maritime patrol missions as well. 

The SAAF Dakotas have taken part in all conflicts involving the South African Armed Forces since the Second World War, including operations in Namibia and Angola, in which they were used extensively. 

In 2023, the South African government issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the provision of maintenance services, but, reportedly, no bids were submitted, so the decision was taken to definitively retire the C-47 fleet. 

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