New York Army and Air Guard members participate in South African air show

LATHAM, N.Y. -- More than 70 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard from Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Capital Region, are in Cape Town, South Africa this week participating in the African continent's largest air show, the Africa Aerospace and Defense Exposition 2010, Sept. 21-25.

The event, held at Air Force Base Ysterplaat, features aircraft from 35 countries and 135 manufacturers.

The New York National Guard, which participates in a State Partnership Program with the South African National Defence Force, sent an Army National Guard OH-58 Kiowa Scout Helicopter and a New York Air National Guard HH-60 Pavehawk rescue helicopter to participate in the exhibition.

"Support missions such as this afford our New York National Guard a continuous capability to strengthen our partnership with the South African National Defense Forces," said Brig. Gen. Renwick Payne, New York National Guard director of joint staff.

"We in New York are looking forward to opportunities like this to exchange and share information about how we prepare Soldiers and Airmen for the demands of today's contingency missions," said Payne, the ranking New York National Guard officer on the mission.

"It's going to be awesome. It is a good trip," said Army National Guard Sgt. Kevin Resseler, an OH-59 ground support mechanic. "You'll see what other countries are using and you'll see what other units are using."

The HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter belongs to the 106th Rescue Wing based at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach Long Island. The wing, featured in the movie "The Perfect Storm," also sent 25 Airmen, including pararescue specialists, to participate in the show and conduct military-to-military engagements with South African forces.

The HH-60 was transported to Cape Town International Airport by a New York Air National Guard C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft, and later to Ysterplaat, South Africa, by a C-17 Globemaster from a Heavy Airlift Wing based in Hungary.

The C-5A, which transported the Army National Guard troops and equipment, is assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh. The wing conducts strategic airlift around the world on a regular basis.

The OH-58 Kiowa is assigned to Detachment 1, Alpha Co, of the 224 Aviation Security and Support Battalion, at Latham, NY. The unit normally flies missions in support of the New York National Guard Counterdrug Task Force.

The Army National Guard has also sent an M1117 Armored Security Vehicle and a humvee ambulance for display. A team from the 442nd Military Police Company, based in Yonkers, is with the armored security vehicle, while the 466th Area Medical Company from Queensbury sent the humvee ambulance and Soldiers to accompany it.

Participation in this air show is part of the New York National Guard's ongoing relationship with South Africa.

The State Partnership Program (SPP) is a National Guard initiative that encourages relationships, enhances international security and builds capacity across all levels of society with developing nations. Each state and territorial National Guard is partnered with the military of a developing friendly nation.

New York's partnership with the Republic of South Africa was initiated in 2003. Since then New York National Guard has been sending military visitors to South Africa and hosting military and civilian visitors in return. Maj. Scott Williams from the 106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National Guard, is responsible for maintaining this bilateral relationship is stationed in the American Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.

The Africa Aerospace and Defense Exposition, is a five-day event, held every two years. The first three days of the event feature a trade show, with the last two days open to the public.