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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, this is the Real Economy Report. At the recent African Aerospace and Defence exhibition, two South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle companies publicly launched new vehicles. Keith Campbell reports. Keith Campbell: The two companies were BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa and DCD Protected Mobility. BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa was the first off the mark, revealing its RG21 mine-protected vehicle. Company Business Development Director Natasha Pheiffer tells us about its competitive features.

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    South African specialist mine detection and mine protected vehicle company DCD Protected Mobility recently unveiled 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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    The civilian version of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules military airlift aircraft is attracting attention from air freight operators in Africa. They are interested in replacing the previous generation L-100 civil Hercules version as well as other aircraft. The company produced 115 L-100 aircraft from 1964 onwards and some 70 of these are still in service around the world. The original L-100 was a version of the C-130E, but the fuselage was stretched to produce the L-100-20 in 1968 and stretched again to produce the L-100-30 in 1970, to improve freight capacity and operating economics. Most civil Hercules are L-100-30s. Ironically, perhaps, some air forces bought L-100s despite them being civil aircraft.

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    South African defence company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) is busy launching new products on to the international market. The company, 51%-owned by German group Rheinmetall and 49% by South Africa’s State-owned Denel group, designs, develops and manufactures mortar bombs, aircraft bombs, artillery shells, shells for naval guns and lethal and non-lethal grenades for use by grenade launchers, as well as rocket and missile propulsion and warhead subsystems, safety and arming devices and plant design.

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    The next two-and-a-half months could see major impetus given to wide ranging science and technology cooperation between Russia and South Africa, both bilaterally and within the multilateral Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group framework. Russia has identified South Africa as a country of great potential and wants to further development cooperation with this country as well as with the other Brics states.

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    Creamer Media’s Defence 2014 report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key participants in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial multibillion-rand strategic defence procurement package, diversification in the sector and the outlook for South Africa’s defence industry in light of current levels of local defence spending, which have contributed to the defence force being in a “critical state of decline”.

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    One of the new products on display at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2014 exhibition last month was the Testudo unmanned ground vehicle.

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    South Africa’s defence, aerospace and maritime industries contribute to the country’s economy through the development and maintenance of high level scientific, engineering, technological and technical skills and jobs, as well as advanced design, development and manufacturing processes. They have developed excellent reputations in the global market and the majority of their production is exported, earning most of their revenues in hard currencies. South African aerospace and defence products – ranging from complete systems to subsystems to major components to parts – can be found in service on virtually every continent.

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    South Africa’s defence, aerospace and maritime industries contribute to the country’s economy through the development and maintenance of high-level scientific, engineering, technological and technical skills and jobs, as well as advanced design, development and manufacturing processes. They have developed excellent reputations in the global market and the bulk of their production is exported, earning most of their revenues in hard currencies. South African aerospace and defence products – ...

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    South Africa’s defence acquisition agency Armscor (which also undertakes research and development [R&D] and disposes of surplus military equipment) achieved, during the 2013/2014 financial year, its best financial performance regarding acquisition projects in five years. This was revealed when the agency recently (October 16) presented its 2013/2014 annual report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans. Armscor’s income statement displayed a R103.3-million surplus.

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    Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer rolled out the first prototype of its KC-390 military transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft at its Gavião Peixoto plant in São Paulo state on October 21. The aircraft is the biggest type yet developed by the company and probably the biggest aircraft ever developed in the Southern Hemisphere. The development of the aircraft has cost about $1.94-billion. “This significant milestone of the KC-390 programme demonstrates Embraer’s ability to manage such a complex and high-technology project and to perform it on track,” enthused Embraer Defence and Security president and CEO Jackson Schneider. “It paves the way for the beginning of the ground tests to prepare for the first flight.”

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    South African radar company Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) is planning to develop new products next year, while remaining focused on its core businesses. "This is to maintain our momentum in both the defence and commercial markets," RRS CEO Carl Kies told Engineering News Online on Monday. RRS is a division of Reutech, itself part of the Reunert group. "There are some projects and products we are working on that have great potential," he reported. The company designs, develops and manufactures military radars, mining radars and has more recently diversified into tracking systems for concentrated photovoltaic plants. Some 40% of its revenues come from its military business and 60% from its civil business. The domestic/export market split is similar, with the local market accounting for 40% of revenues and exports for 60%.

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  • 12/09/14--02:50: Defence – time for Plan C
  • Some weeks ago, three economists – Prof Jannie Rossouw, head of the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Economic and Business Sciences, Adele Breytenbach and Fanie Joubert, both at the University of South Africa – published (in the Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe) the latest results from research that they have conducting over the past few years. Their results rightly got a lot of attention. They warned that the country was confronted with the danger of a “fiscal cliff” – in their words, “the danger that the SA government might run out of income to cover growing government expenditure”. They reported that, in 2012, social grants and civil service renumeration had together accounted for 56.4% of government revenues (up from 44.3% in 2008). Should this trend continue, social grants and civil service renumeration would account for 100% of government revenues by 2026 – just 12 years from now.

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    Through the establishment of the new Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime (DISM) division, State-owned Denel was adding to its existing strengths in the landward and aerospace arenas, while also opening up new markets for the company, group CEO Riaz Saloojee said on Monday. The creation of the maritime division would also enable Denel to meet the recommendations of the Defence Review 2014, which called for the company to develop sovereign capabilities in strategic areas such as command-and-control and electronic warfare.

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    State-owned defence group Denel’s plan to acquire BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa has been given a shot in the arm, with the Competition Commission recommending that the Competition Tribunal approve the transaction without conditions. In August, UK-based global defence group BAE Systems agreed to sell its South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle and related systems subsidiary to Denel for an undisclosed sum.

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    South African radar company Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) is planning to develop new products next year, while remaining focused on its core businesses. "This is to maintain our momentum in both the defence and commercial markets," says RRS CEO Carl Kies. RRS is a division of Reutech, itself part of the Reunert group.

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    When Reutech Radar Systems was set up in 1987, under its original name ESD South (ESD was a subsidiary of the then Barlow Rand group, since “unbundled”), its first programme was Project Hexagon, which the company consciously used to develop a profound understanding of (then) modern radar technology. Hexagon was a project of Armscor to develop a compact vehicle-mounted aircraft warning radar, operating in the L-band – that is, in the 1 GHz to 2 GHz radio frequency band; this is a relatively low frequency band. (Armscor is South Africa’s defence procurement and research and development agency; it the 1980s its also operated defence manufacturing plants which were later split away and formed into the Denel group.)

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    A ministerial medical task team appointed by the minister of defence has made recommendations on how to improve the country's three military hospitals, the department said on Monday. The task team, consisting of nine independent health care professionals, looked at human resources, military readiness, health services, facilities, and equipment at the hospitals from March 10 to April 21.

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    The University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Masters degree in radar engineering, launched in 2011, is proving to be a success, with a healthy annual intake of about ten full time post graduate students. Furthermore, other students are pursuing the degree through distance education, taking the total currently studying for the qualification to about 30. The whole radar and remote sensing programme at UCT now has about 60 students, including 15 PhD students.

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    Trade union Solidarity’s three-year dispute with defence company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) over the interpretation of a recognition agreement between the two entities has come to an end after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled in the union’s favour.

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