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22 Squadron
Oryx helicopter.jpg
Atlas Oryx M-2
Active 1 July 1942 to present
Country  South Africa
Branch Air Force Ensign of South Africa.svg South African Air Force
Role Maritime helicopter squadron
Garrison/HQ AFB Ysterplaat
Motto(s) Ut Mare Liberum Sit (That the Seas may be Free)
Colors 1942-1945 East African coast, 1944-1945 Gibraltar, 1945 Egypt
Equipment Atlas Oryx M2, Westland Super Lynx 300
22 Sqn Badge 22Sqn-SAAF.gif

22 Squadron is a squadron of the South African Air Force. It is currently a maritime helicopter squadron operating Lynx and Oryx helicopters for the South African Navy.


The squadron was formed in Durban on 1 July 1942 by renaming 31 Flight to 22 (Torpedo-Bomber-Reconnaissance) Squadron. It was equipped with ex-SAA Junkers Ju 86s as well as a number of Avro Ansons, and was assigned to anti-submarine, coastal reconnaissance and convoy support duties.[1]

It had a relatively unremarkable period of duty in World War II, being engaged mainly in coastal patrols as part of Coastal Command.[Note 1] It was disbanded at Idku on 24 October 1945. Following the war, it was briefly recreated in 1954 and equipped with Lockheed Venturas, but disbanded again soon thereafter.

The latest chapter in the squadron's history began on 1 January 1964, when it was recreated at AFB Ysterplaat as 22 Flight and equipped with the newly delivered Westland Wasp helicopter, becoming a full squadron in May 1976. In 1978 it received a complement of Aérospatiale Alouette IIIs.

At the end of the 1980s, the Westland Wasps were withdrawn from service, but the squadron received a number of Aérospatiale Pumas in 1991 when it was amalgamated with 31 Squadron. The Pumas were later replaced with the Atlas Oryx M2.

This squadron is the sole maritime helicopter squadron of the SAAF, and therefore provides all helicopters, air and ground crew for operation aboard South African Navy vessels. It has previously been tasked with supporting South Africa's Antarctic research station, and therefore operates two specially modified Atlas Oryx M2 helicopters, suitable for use in the extreme conditions. One of the M2s was written off after a crash landing in July 2004.

Wasp helicopters from the squadron were involved in the rescue of South African Navy personnel in the South Atlantic following the sinking of the SAS President Kruger in 1982. The squadron also gained international recognition in 2002 during the high profile rescue of the Magdalena Oldendorff which was trapped in the Antarctic ice. 22 Squadron's two Oryx M2s were embarked aboard the S. A. Agulhas for the successful operation.

Apart from official military support the squadron is involved in mountain rescue and air-sea rescue operations, fire fighting, crime prevention and humanitarian relief in the event of disasters.

The squadron's Alouette IIIs were retired in August 2007. The first of four Westland Super Lynx 300 helicopters for use aboard the South African Navy's new Valour class frigates, was delivered on the 13th July 2007. It was accompanied to AFB Ysterplaat on its first flight in South Africa by two Oryx and an Alouette III.

Previous Aircraft Operated

Westland Wasp as flown by 22 Sqn

See also


  1. Coastal Command consisted of 27 Sqn at Walvis Bay and Rooikop and a detachment at Aus; 6 Sqn at Eerste River; 23 Sqn at Darling; 25 Sqn at Port Elizabeth and East London; 22 Sqn at Lombazi and Matubatuba; 29 Sqn also at Lombazi and 10 Sqn at Durban and Isipingo. Martin and Orpen, (1979) p.275
  1. Green 1968, p.42.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Ten Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft. London:Macdonald, 1968.
  • Martin, H.J. (Lt-Gen); Orpen, N.D. (1979). South Africa at War: Military and Industrial Organisation and Operations in connection with the conduct of War: 1939-1945 (South African Forces World War II: Volume VII). Cape Town: Purnell. p. 282. ISBN 0-86843-025-0. 

External links

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