Episode 110 - Cuban MiG-23s bomb Calueque Dam and 11 SADF troops pay the price

When we left off last episode, the Cubans and Angolans were gearing up to face another invasion by 61 Mech and 4SAI, Operation Excite as it was to become known. But for once, the Cubans had decided that they’d seize the initiative and were about to launch a two pronged assault towards the South Africans from Xangongo.

Just a quick recap, 61 Mech had arrived in the eastern theatre with a tank squadron, four more motorised infantry companies from 32 Battalion, including their anti-tank troop in four Ratel 90s and four more ZT3s, 3 motorised companies from 101 Battalion in Casspirs, one motorised company each from 1 parachute, 202 and 701 Battalions who were in Buffels.

The SADF artillery support was also significant, a battery each of G-5s, G-2s, Valkiri rocket launchers and 120mm mortars. This was task force Zulu under command of Colonel Michael Delport.

The South Africans had built an approach ramp up to Calueque Dam which allowed the Olifants and the Ratels to cross over for the invasion. Ostensibly the plan was to flush out the SAM-6 missile stations which were based around Techipa then hit them with artillery, but also to push the Cubans back from the dam which provided water and power to Ovamboland.

It was a key point in the war.
On the 23 June 1988, reconnaissance units reported a heavy Cuban artillery bombardment ahead of the dust cloud, it appeared an attack force was heading south and was eventually spotted on the 24th by members of 32 Battalion. Reccies also spotted Cuban columns moving southwards from Techipa towards Calueque, with this stop-start advance the technique preferred by the Russians. Bombard, move, dig in, bombard, move, dig in. There appeared to be a two-pronged assault under way.
It was to be a furious battle, one which ended when MiG-23s bombed Calueque Dam, killing 11 8SAI soldiers - the worst single incident for the SADF in the entire 23 year war.
19 Jun 2023 English South Africa History · Documentary

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