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South African Defence Force facts for kids

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South African Defence Force
Established 1957
Disbanded 1994
Parts South African Army
South African Navy
South African Air Force
South African Medical Service
Headquarters Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa
Serving soldiers
Conscription (white males) 17-65 years of age
Active employees/soldiers (1986) 82,400
Budget $3,092 billion USD
Percent of GDP 4.1
Suppliers from inland South Africa ARMSCOR
Suppliers from
foreign countries
 United Kingdom
 United States
See also
History South African Border War
Namibian War of Independence
Rhodesian Bush War
Angolan Civil War
Mozambican Civil War
Soweto uprising
Bophuthatswana coup d'état

The South African Defence Force (SADF) was the name of the South African military from 1957 to 1994. It replaced the Union Defence Force (UDF) in 1957. The SADF, in turn, was replaced by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994.

The South African Defence Force had four branches: the South African Army, the South African Navy, the South African Air Force, and, the South African Medical Service.

The SADF implemented conscription of white South Africans. However, black, Indian, and Coloured South Africans could serve in the SADF as volunteers.

Within South Africa, the SADF was used to suppress opposition to apartheid, often directly supporting the South African Police. South African military units were also involved in the Angolan Civil War an the side of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. The SADF was also deployed during the related South African border and Namibian independence wars.

Nuclear weapons

South Africa was the only country in Africa to have nuclear weapons, but these weapons were destroyed by the South African government during the transition to democracy. South Africa has not built nuclear weapons since.


With the a multiracial democracy introduced to South Africa in 1994, the SADF was merged with the defence forces of several formerly "independent" homelands, as well as the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), the PAC's Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), and the self-protection units of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IPA). The new South African military became known as the South African National Defence Force.

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