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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Over the next ten years the global market for armoured and counter-IED (improvised explosive device) vehicles is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 2%. This is the forecast from ASDReports, part of the ASD Media group, released on Wednesday. By 2023, the market for these categories of vehicles should be worth $28.7-billion. The total value of armoured and counter-IED vehicles acquired from this year to 2023 is expected to be $279-billion. This expansion will be driven by an increasing number of international coalition operations, including peacekeeping operations and even disaster relief operations. The countries participating in these and other international operations will need vehicles that meet North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) standards (which are used by many countries that are not members of Nato) and which are thus interoperable with major partners in such operations.

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    Global defence, security and peacekeeping company Paramount Group signed a multipronged partnership agreement with Argentine defence and security company Codesur. This will enable Paramount Group to develop its business in South America. The strategic partnership between Paramount Group and Codesur was announced on December 6. It is based on shared technology and a regional programme to introduce Paramount Group's security and land systems, as well as its electronic and aerospace systems onto the South American market, says Paramount Group CEO John Craig.

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    Aeronautical engineering company Marenco Engineering Technologies Africa is developing a new helicopter in conjunction with its parent company Marenco Swisshelicopter. “The main advantage of the helicopter is that it is based on new-generation technology and materials. Most designs on the market are based on variations or derivatives of 40-year-old rotorcraft.

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    The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), South Africa’s premier scientific research and development organisation, has developed a removable hoisting and davit-storage system that rapidly places smaller vessels on frigates for immediate response to piracy along the African coastline. “We are in a strong strategic partnership with the Department of Defence (DoD) to deal with and find ways to counter piracy,” says CSIR executive director of the unit for defence, peace, safety and security André Nepgen.

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    Engineering and military technology company Braddick Defense Systems is developing a high-speed, long-range, mobile deployment unmanned aerial vehicle for surveillance and attack-mission augmentation in collaboration with aeronautical engineering company Marenco Engineering Technologies Africa. Braddick Defense Systems CEO Adam McCallum states that the lock-wing drone was originally going to be a quadracopter; however, while conducting research for the project, Braddick contacted Marenco Engineering, as they are experts in this field, and the idea of a lock-wing drone came to fruition.

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    The South African defence industry has been heavily affected by budgetary cuts – its range of capabilities is much smaller and narrower, compared with what it was in the 1980s and 1990s, resulting in a loss of technological depth, states independent defence analyst Helmoed Heitman. He adds that, although the industry is doing well in the export market, its potential is being eroded by the general failure to develop new products and technologies and by the inability of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to buy adequate quantities of the equipment and systems it needs.

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    The South African trade union Solidarity reported on Wednesday that Denel Aviation is to conclude a new contract with the South African Air Force (SAAF) regarding aircraft maintenance services provided by the State-owned company’s Denel Personnel Solutions/Aero Manpower Group (DPS/AMG). The union claimed that only between 100 and 150 out of AMG’s current employees would retain their jobs under the new contract. “We will know between late tonight or early tomorrow morning exactly how many of the 523 aircraft specialists will be included in the new 12-month contract,” stated Solidarity spokesperson Jack Loggenberg. “Those employees will then remain in Denel’s employ and the air force would be in breach of Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act should it now directly employ the employees.” Those workers not covered by the new contract will be retrenched, as the current contract ends on March 31. “Solidarity will continue its efforts to have the remaining employees redeployed within Denel or other companies,” he affirmed. “However, the chances are very slim.” The union represents 227 of the current AMG workforce.

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    The State-owned Denel defence industrial group announced on Thursday that it had reached a new agreement with the South African Air Force (SAAF) to replace the current Denel Personnel Solutions/Aero Manpower Group (DPS/AMG) contract, which expires at the end of March. The new arrangement will see the SAAF retain the services of 139 of the 523 aircraft specialists currently employed under the DPS/AMG contract. The remaining 384 workers will lose their jobs. DPS/AMG falls under aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company Denel Aviation. DPS has provided skilled maintenance personnel to the SAAF under the AMG contract since 1986. The 139 workers to be retained were selected on the basis of the skills required by the SAAF, and they will be complemented by air force personnel. “This is indeed a breakthrough,” stated Denel Aviation CEO Mike Kgobe. “With this solution we are able to ensure that the jobs of some of our employees across a number of categories and locations are retained with the requisite order cover.”

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    Airbus Military’s A400M military airlift aircraft programme reached another key marker on Wednesday when the first production aeroplane made its maiden flight in Spain. The aircraft concerned is designated MSN7 by the European company and is destined for the Armée de l’Air (AdlA – the French Air Force). Already painted in French markings, the aeroplane took off from Seville at 11:38 local time (10:48 Greenwich Mean Time). It flew for five hours and 42 minutes, landing back at Seville. “The performance of the aircraft was as expected and we had a very smooth flight, confirming the great handling capabilities of the aircraft,” reported company experimental test pilot Hugues van der Stichel. “The result of this first flight gives us full confidence for the on-time delivery to the French Air Force.”

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    Diesel engine and gas energy systems supplier MTU South Africa celebrated its 1 500th engine delivery to special-purpose military vehicle and service supplier DCD Protected Mobility, a division of the DCD industrial group, for its Husky project.

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    Denel Aviation on Thursday handed the last of 11 operation-ready Rooivalk helicopters over to the South African Air Force (SAAF). Denel Aviation CEO Mike Kgobe said the acceptance of the locally developed combat support helicopter marked the culmination of a 26-year partnership between the SAAF and Denel. 

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    The State-owned Denel defence industrial group announced on Thursday that it had reached a new agreement with the South African Air Force (SAAF) to replace the current Denel Personnel Solutions/Aero Manpower Group (DPS/AMG) contract, which expires at the end of March. The new arrangement will see the SAAF retain the services of 139 of the 523 aircraft specialists currently employed under the DPS/AMG contract. The remaining 384 workers (or 73.4% of the skilled workforce) will lose their jobs. DPS/AMG falls under aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul company Denel Aviation. DPS has provided skilled maintenance personnel to the SAAF under the AMG contract since 1986.

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    South African defence company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa, part of the global BAE Systems group, recently launched a significantly upgraded manned turret for light armoured and mine protected vehicles. Designated the Overhead Manned Turret (OMT), it has been developed from the company’s previous and manually-operated Overhead Manual Turret, which had been unveiled about two years ago. Both these turrets have been developed by the company’s Dynamics division.

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    The Brazilian subsidiary of South African missile and unmanned air vehicle company, Denel Dynamics, Denel do Brasil, will soon complete a report into the potential Brazilian supply chain for the manufacture of the A-Darter infrared (IR) homing air-to-air missile (AAM) in the South American country. Late last year the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira – FAB) awarded Denel do Brasil a 1.4-million reais (about R6.5-million) contract to carry out a review of Brazilian companies which had the capability to, or interest in, take part in the programme.

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    South African State-owned aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company Denel Aviation officially inaugurated its new MRO Centre for Russian Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17-family helicopters on Tuesday evening. The new service centre is a joint initiative with Russian Helicopters, the State-owned Russian company that incorporates the world-renowned Mil and Kamov brands. “This facility will be the only one of its kind in Africa,” highlighted Denel group CEO Riaz Saloojee. “I am confident that it will become a centre of excellence. This beginning can only bode well for both partners. At Denel we are determined to pursue these and other opportunities to grow our business.” “We are looking forward to a stronger relationship with Russian Helicopters and we look forward to exploring further opportunities in future,” affirmed Denel board chairperson Zoli Kunene. “Today’s historical launch of Denel Aviation as an MRO centre for Russian Helicopters is the result of joint planning between our two companies,” reported Denel Aviation CEO Mike Kgobe. “I am convinced this MRO centre is symbolic of a wider relationship between our two countries.”

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    US aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin, which supplied the South African Air Force (SAAF) with its current strategic transport aircraft, the C-130BZ Hercules, believes that these need to be replaced within the next seven years. This year is the 50th anniversary of start of C-130BZ operations by the SAAF. (It is also the 100th birthday of Lockheed Martin.)

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    South African State-owned missile and unmanned air vehicle company Denel Dynamics announced on Monday that the Al Tariq precision-guided munition (PGM), developed by Tawazun Dynamics, its joint venture with United Arab Emirates company Tawazun Holdings, had successfully executed a difficult mission profile during a flight test evaluation. This test saw the weapon used against a laser-designated target. It effectively scored a direct hit (the “miss distance” was less than half-a-metre). In the test, the Al Tariq was launched off the track of the target and was programmed to, during its terminal phase, enter the target area from a different direction. “This implies the missile had to perform a dog-leg manoeuvre and the flight path had to be calculated dynamically ‘on the fly’,” said Al Tariq programme manager Coenie Loock. This mission profile was selected to provide a thorough test of the PGM.

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    outh Africa today spends about 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, in comparison to the global average figure of 2.5%, reported auditing and consultancy firm Deloitte on Tuesday. This low level of defence spending is exemplified by the fact that the South African Air Force has placed 12 of its 26 Gripen fighters in long-term storage. In the 1980s, defence expenditure absorbed 4% of the country’s GDP. “There are various reasons for this reduction in defence spending including the cost of operations versus budget allocations,” said Deloitte aerospace and defence leader Igna Gray. “South Africa, despite the reduction in spend is still considered a regional military power in Africa with a focus on peacekeeping on the continent and in neighbouring countries.” “Global military expenditure as a percentage of GDP in 2011, showed that Saudi Arabia had the highest spend at 8.4%, followed by Israel (6.8%) and then the US (4.7%),” she reported. “Placing South Africa on the list would see it being compared to Japan, which is 17th on the list at 1% – the same as South Africa.”

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    South African missiles and unmanned air vehicles company Denel Dynamics unveiled a new missile technology development programme on Tuesday. The new programme, designated Marlin, is focused on technology for a new family of all-weather air defence missiles. The intent is to produce both air-to-air missile (AAM) and surface-to-air missile (SAM) versions of the Marlin. The AAM model would be in the beyond-visual-range category while the SAM would come in naval and army versions. South Africa is currently investing in risk-reduction technology for the programme. This could lead to a missile demonstrator. However, these activities are intended to form the basis of a joint development programme with a friendly country, inspired by the successful A-Darter programme with Brazil. Investment from a partner country will allow the Marlin initiative to become a full-scale weapon development programme.

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    South Africa’s globally respected specialist mine protection and demining company Denel Mechem announced, on Thursday, a new-generation version of the renowned Casspir mine protected vehicle, the Casspir NG 2000. Since originally entering service in 1979, the Casspir has seen service around the world with the United Nations, various police forces and private security companies as well as with the South African National Defence Force. “The basic, reliable features of the Casspir remain the same,” affirmed Denel Mechem GM Ashley Williams. “It has always been the world leader in its class – providing unequalled protection against landmines, roadside bombs and automatic rifle fire. Now we have improved the hull protection by using a higher quality of steel, increased its power, improved the accessibility for passengers and mounted it on a more versatile and reliable vehicle platform.” It can resist the blast of 14 kg of explosives – equivalent to more than two landmines – under each wheel.

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