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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South Africa's latest aircraft design, the Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (Ahrlac), made its first public flight at Wonderboom Airport, north of Pretoria, on Wednesday. The actual maiden flight took place at the same airfield late last month and the aircraft has now accumulated some seven flying hours. The two-seat Ahrlac is being developed by South African private sector defence industrial group Paramount, with financial support from foreign partners. South African private sector aerospace company Aerosud is the prime contractor for the project.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/14 were announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria, on Friday. Revenues grew by 17%, net profit increased by 63% and exports rose by 28%. Exports now account for 50% of the group's total revenues. Fitch Ratings upgraded Denel's credit rating to AAA.

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    The Denel Group, South Africa's State-owned defence company, has announced a stronger-than-ever order book. "Denel's order book of R32-billion is the strongest the company has had in its history," reported group CEO Riaz Saloojee on Friday. "These are contracts that will be executed in the next 10 to 15 years." The group has developed strategic partnerships in the Middle East, South America and Asia. About half of its revenues now come from exports. "The business has become outward looking," he affirmed.

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  • 08/22/14--20:45: India ends ban on Denel
  • India has lifted its blacklisting of South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel, US website Defensenews.com reported on Monday, citing a source in the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD reportedly communicated the ending of the ban to Denel in a letter dispatched on August 12. The group had been blacklisted by the previous Indian government following allegations that it had paid kickbacks in 2002 to win a contract for 1 000 NTW-20 anti-material rifles (plus 398 000 rounds of ammunition) for the Indian Army. The ban was imposed in 2005, by which time 400 of the rifles had been delivered. At the same time, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched a probe into the deal. The CBI terminated the investigation late last year, after eight years of work failed to find evidence to support the allegations. “Denel will now emerge as a keen competitor in India’s $4-billion variety [sic] of 155 mm/52 calibre artillery gun projects,” Indian defence analyst Nitin Mehta told the US news site. The ban on Denel actually halted the Indian Army’s acquisition project for 155 mm/52 calibre artillery pieces.

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    UK-based global defence group BAE Systems is to sell its South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle and related systems subsidiary BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) to South Africa’s State-owned defence group Denel. LSSA is located in Benoni, east of Johannesburg. BAE Systems holds 75% of LSSA and Denel will also acquire the 25% of the company now owned by South African private sector (and black empowerment) company DGD Technologies (2001) to give the State-owned entity 100% of the Benoni-based business.

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    South Africa's latest aircraft design, the Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (Ahrlac), made its first public flight at Wonderboom Airport, north of Pretoria, on August 13. The actual maiden flight took place at the same airfield in late July and the aircraft had, by the time of the public flight, accumulated some seven flying hours. The two-seat Ahrlac is being developed by South African private sector defence industrial group Paramount, with financial support from foreign partners. South African private sector aerospace company Aerosud is the prime contractor for the project.

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  • 08/29/14--23:16: Good times, bad times
  • There has lately been some quite important news from, and affecting, the local defence industry. For example, it has been announced that, provided all the regulatory and other approvals are obtained, State-owned defence group Denel will acquire the entirety of BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA). This move will consolidate the main South African producers of armoured and mine protected vehicles, gun turrets and related systems under one umbrella. South African expertise is concentrated in the design and manufacture of wheeled armoured vehicles, and, worldwide, competition in this sector is increasing, with new players entering the market over the past few years. (As for BAE Systems, they are going to concentrate on tracked armoured vehicles, which is actually the sector in which they have the most expertise.)

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net profit increased by 63%, exports rose by 28%. Exports now account for 50% of the group's total revenues. And Fitch Ratings has upgraded Denel's credit rating to AAA.

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    The DA has called on Auditor General Kimi Makwetu to investigate allegations of irregularities in the awarding of tenders worth more than R200-million by the defence department. "The dodgy defence force air transport tender must be investigated," said Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier in a statement on Friday.

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    South African private-sector defence group Paramount announced a series of major initiatives on Thursday to strengthen its position in the local aerospace, defence and maritime sectors. Group Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz told a media briefing that the enterprise had acquired two companies – Aerosud Aerospace and Veecraft – and had set up a dedicated robotics business, Paramount Robotics Systems. The company did not reveal the cost of the acquisitions but did report that it would assign more than R100-million for research and development in the new robotics unit. “We’re in a tough business, we’re in a highly competitive market,” he highlighted. “Today we have a properly formidable capability in Paramount and in South Africa. ... Our objective is to build a strong African defence industry.” Aerosud Aerospace was part of the South African private-sector Aerosud group and comprises that group’s military aerospace operations and activities, except for the manufacture of components for the Airbus A400M military airlift aircraft. “The deal is effectively concluded,” explained Ichikowitz in reply to a question from Engineering News Online. “We’re moving the people from the Aerosud site to the Paramount campus. The integration is under way. It’s a very exciting process.” The business will now be called Paramount Aerospace. The two sides are familiar with each other, having worked together before. (Aerosud itself, in which Paramount has a strategic shareholding, continues as a separate company designing, developing and manufacturing parts, components and fittings for Airbus, Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers.)

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    Africa’s largest privately owned defence and aerospace company Paramount Group says the development and production of its Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) is expected to significantly boost jobs and skills in the African aerospace industry. Several local subcontractors will be involved in equipping the aircraft with a range of systems, says Paramount Group executive chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz.

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    The South African Department of Defence (DoD) will support the future development of the South African defence industry, Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans Dr Sam Gulube affirmed on Monday. "We will also support the industry in its international export efforts. A vibrant defence industry is a national asset." He assured that the DoD will work with its partners in the National Defence Industry Council. It will align its acquisition policies with those of the Department of Trade and Industry and with the National Development Plan. He noted that local manufacture of defence systems would help South Africa's socioeconomic development.

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    The need for local defence companies to collaborate with international partners has been highlighted by Denel Land Systems (DLS) CEO Stephan Burger. "If this [collaboration] is not part of your business plan, the sustainability of your business is in doubt," he warned. As an example, he cited the new Badger infantry fighting vehicle, being acquired by the South African Army under Project Hoefyster. DLS is the prime contractor, but the for example, technology for the vehicle comes from international partner Patria and the gun drive comes from another international partner, Curtiss Wright.

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    South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) launched its latest product at African Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 at Air Force Base Waterkloof, south of Pretoria, on Wednesday. It is the RG21 4 x 4 mine-protected vehicle. "It's about affordability, supportability and protection," explained LSSA Business Development and Communications Director Natasha Pheiffer. "We saw a gap in the market. MRAP [mine-resistant ambush protected] vehicles are often big and heavy. This is lighter (it weighs 14 t) with a less aggressive look, useful in peacekeeping. Unlike our other vehicles, it does not have a monocoque hull. It is based on a full Iveco truck chassis."

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    South African private-sector defence group Paramount recently announced a series of major initiatives to strengthen its position in the local aerospace, defence and maritime sectors. Group Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz told a media briefing that the enterprise had acquired two companies – Aerosud Aerospace and Veecraft – and had set up a dedicated robotics business, Paramount Robotics Systems. The company did not reveal the cost of the acquisitions but did report that it would assign more than R100-million for research and development in the new robotics unit.

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    Defence industrial cooperation between South Africa and Brazil was highlighted at the recent III Brazil Defence Industrial Base Show (III Mostra BID-Brasil, as it is known in Portuguese), held in Brazil’s capital city, Brasília. The Brazilian Ministry of Defence (MD) highlighted, on its website, a presentation made at the show by Armscor GM: Research and Development Trevor Raman. Armscor is South Africa’s defence acquisition (and research and development) agency.

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    South African specialist mine detection and mine protected vehicle company DCD Protected Mobility unveiled on Thursday its latest product, the Oribi multirole utility truck. This is a joint development with another South African company, vehicle customising enterprise Histomart. "The Oribi boasts a perfect balance between off-road capability, on-road comfort and operational efficiency," affirmed DCD Protected Mobility GM Andrew Mears. "It can operate on rails, tar roads and in severe off-road conditions. These features make the vehicle ideal for numerous industries  ranging from military to security to agriculture, construction and mining."

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    South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that it is partnering with local company Space Commercial Services Holdings Aerospace (SCSH) group to develop a maritime wide-area synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for use by small satellites. The project was announced on Thursday at the African Aerospace and Defence 2014 exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof, just south of Pretoria. "We are open to international cooperation" CSIR Manager: Radar and Electronic Warfare Systems Erlank Pienaar told Engineering News Online on Friday. "It's not exclusively a CSIR/SCSH project. And if we get an international partner we will be able to accelerate the development of this radar."

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    South African company Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), part of Sweden’s Saab Group, has indicated what parts it will develop and manufacture for the latest generation of the Saab Gripen fighter for the Swedish Air Force, the Gripen E. These will be parts of the aircraft’s electronic warfare (EW) system. In June, Engineering News revealed that some parts for the Gripen E would be manufactured in South Africa. Now, SGD says that these will be antennas and microwave modules for the EW system. The assembly of the prototypes of these parts is now under way at the company’s facility in Centurion, just south of Pretoria. “These are important assignments for Saab Grintek Defence and a testimony to the local capabilities and exceptional local knowledge within electronic warfare in South Africa,” highlighted company CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson. “The work with further strengthen our capabilities and secure and protect jobs at SGD for a long time and we hope for further orders for the Gripen E going forward.”

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    South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) has launched a new product. It is the RG21 4 x 4 mine-protected vehicle. "It's about affordability, supportability and protection," explained LSSA Business Development and Communications Director Natasha Pheiffer. "We saw a gap in the market. MRAP [mine-resistant ambush protected] vehicles are often big and heavy. This is lighter (it weighs 14 t) with a less aggressive look, useful in peacekeeping. Unlike our other vehicles, it does not have a monocoque hull. It is based on a full Iveco truck chassis."

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