South African Defence Force

Military of South Africa between 1957 and 1994

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.

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[1]
Active employees/soldiers (1986) 82,400[2]
Budget $3,092 billion USD[2]
Percent of GDP 4.1[2]
Suppliers from inland South Africa ARMSCOR[2]
Suppliers from
foreign countries
 United Kingdom[9]
 United States[10]
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 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 weaponsEdit

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.


  1. "Military service becomes compulsory for White South African men. | South African History Online". 1967-06-09. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Duignan, Peter. Politics and Government in African States 1960-1985. pp. 283–408.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Polakow-Suransky, Sasha. The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. pp. 1–336.
  5. Chris McGreal. "Brothers in arms - Israel's secret pact with Pretoria | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  6. Kokalis, Peter. Mamba: Deadly Serpent or Dangerous Fiasco?. Shotgun News, 2006, Volume 60 Issue 15 p. 10.
  8. "Trade Registers".
  9. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2014-01-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Thompson, Alex. U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Apartheid South Africa, 1948-1994: Conflict of Interests. pp. 4–260.