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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Yet further delays in the production and delivery schedules for the Airbus A400M military airlift and air-to-air refuelling aircraft have led to a major shake-up at Airbus Defence and Space, the Airbus Group company responsible for the aeroplane. The changes were announced by the company on Thursday. Airbus Defence and Space head of military aircraft Domingo Ureña-Raso has resigned with immediate effect (and will be appointed to another position in the Group) and will be replaced by former flight test engineer Fernando Alonso (not to be confused with the Formula 1 racing car driver). Alonso will take up his new position on March 1. In the interim, Airbus Defence and Space CEO Bernhard Gerwert will also act temporarily as head of military aircraft.

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    The first prototype of the latest and largest aircraft type developed by Brazilian aerospace group Embraer, the KC-390 military airlifter and air-to-air refuelling aircraft, made its maiden flight on Tuesday. The aircraft took off from the airfield at the company’s plant at Gavião Peixoto in São Paulo state. The aircraft was flown by test pilots Mozart Louzada and Marcos Salgado de Oliveira Lima and flight test engineers Raphael Lima and Roberto Becker. The first flight lasted for one hour and 25 minutes. The flight followed an extensive series of ground tests. During the sortie, aircraft flight characteristics were evaluated and a number of systems tests carried out.

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    Yet further delays in the production and delivery schedules for the Airbus A400M military airlift and air-to-air refuelling aircraft have led to a major shake-up at Airbus Defence and Space, the Airbus Group company responsible for the aeroplane. Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Aircraft Domingo Ureña-Raso resigned with immediate effect (and will be appointed to another position in the Group) and will be replaced by former flight test engineer Fernando Alonso (not to be confused with the Formula 1 racing car driver). Alonso will take up his new position on March 1. In the interim, Airbus Defence and Space CEO Bernhard Gerwert will also act temporarily as Head of Military Aircraft.

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    Vehicle-mounted mine detector original equipment manufacture DCD Protected Mobility launched a new type of mine-protected patrol vehicle last year, which will be built for the Nigeria Police Force's (NPF's) paramilitary units. Named after a mythical Nigerian creature, the Ikri patrol vehicle was developed by DCD Protected Mobility and its Nigeria-based partner Mekahog in close cooperation with the NPF.

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    In partnership with the Department of Military Veterans (DMV), privately owned defence and aerospace manufacturer Paramount Group announced in September that they will establish a multimillion-rand high-technical-skills development programme, aimed at advancing the South African defence industry and enabling the group to meet its future growth plans. Young descendants of military veterans, identified by the DMV, will work with Paramount Group employees, through a programme of bursaries for tertiary education placements and on-the-job apprenticeships, to ensure the group’s knowledge and skills are passed on to the next generation of South Africans.

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    Defence and aerospace company Paramount Group announced in December that its Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) reached a milestone of 50 hours of successful incident-free test flying. The AHRLAC, the first military manned fixed-wing aircraft to be fully designed, tested and developed in Africa, has undertaken more than 55 flights since its first flight in July, last year. 

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    Aerospace and defence company Denel’s latest air-to-air missile, the A-Darter, passed critical in-flight guided tests late last year and production on this fifth-generation missile system is expected to start before the end of 2015. Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee says the A-Darter will be a global leader in its class when it comes into service in the next 18 months. The missile is a collaborative project between the South African and Brazilian defence industries and is designed to meet the challenges of future air combat against next-generation fighters in a hostile electronic countermeasure (ECM) environment.

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    MOH-9 Armour Ceramics, a division of Multotec Wear Linings, part of the Multotec Group, launched its 99% alumina oxide ceramic (Al2O3) in December, available as both monolithic body armour and vehicle armour tiles. Owing to its improved hardness, lighter weight composite armour solutions can be achieved, says MOH-9 Armour Ceramics business development manager Stephen Jackson. He explains that, owing to its extreme hardness, alumina oxide is used to micronise impacting projectiles. The formation of a fracture cone within the ceramic dissipates the energy conveyed by the projectile.

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    Swedish aerospace and defence group Saab, which includes South African subsidiary Saab Grintek Defence, expects that its sales will increase this year, following a slight decline last year in comparison to 2013. This was stated by the group when it released its Year-End Report for 2014. (Saab is also the manufacturer of the South African Air Force’s Gripen fighters.)

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    The establishment of State-owned aerospace and defence technology company Denel’s new Integrated Systems and Maritime division (DISM) will strengthen the company’s position as a high-end technology powerhouse and expand the range of products and services it now offers to the South African defence and security sectors. The DISM will add to Denel’s existing strengths in the landward and aerospace arenas, while opening up new markets for the company, enabling Denel to remain globally competitive, says group CEO Riaz Saloojee.

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    South African defence and aerospace company Paramount Group has concluded a deal with Jordan’s State-owned defence company King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) for the manufacture of 50 6x6 Mbombe infantry combat vehicles in Jordan and South Africa. KADDB CEO major-general Omar Al Kaldi and Paramount Group chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz signed the contract at the International Defence Exhibition, being held in the Middle East this week.

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    Late last year the South African electronics industry, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Defence Force, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services and other institutions celebrated the 75th anniversary of radar in this country. On December 16, 1939, the first South African-built radar was successfully operated for the first time.

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    Late last year, the South African electronics industry, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the South African National Defence Force, the Air Traffic and Navigation Services and other institutions celebrated the 75th anniversary of radar in this country. On December 16, 1939, the first South African-built radar was successfully operated for the first time. Exactly who it was who first realised that radio waves could be used to detect and track moving objects is a minor controversy in the history of technology. However, by the 1930s, parallel and completely independent research into radar was being undertaken by France, Germany, the then Soviet Union, the UK and the US.

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    Recently established Denel Integrated Systems and Management (Denel ISM) has formed an alliance with GEW Technologies, a South African subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, part of Europe’s Airbus group. The alliance is intended to pursue future electronic warfare (EW) programmes. Denel ISM is part of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group. It was created (late last year) to serve as a partner in the defence and security industries in the field of complex systems – their design, integration, management and through-life support. GEW Technologies was previously known as Grintek Ewation, originally set up in 1968. Its main shareholders are Airbus and local enterprise Kunene Finance Company.

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    No fewer that three of the development projects being carried out by local missile, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and satellite company Denel Dynamics (part of the State-owned Denel group) are coming to an end and being transformed into industrialisation and production programmes for local and foreign customers. They are the A-Darter missile, the Seeker 400 UAV and the Umbani precision guided bomb kit. “We are really proud of our achievements in these programmes,” highlights company CEO Tsepo Monaheng. “Now we are in a position to release critical engineers and other resources to work on new development programmes.”

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    Recently established Denel Integrated Systems and Management (Denel ISM) has formed an alliance with GEW Technologies, a South African subsidiary of Airbus Defence and Space, part of Europe’s Airbus group. The alliance is intended to pursue future electronic warfare (EW) programmes.

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    JSE-listed communications and defence antenna manufacturer Poynting’s interim results for the period ended December 31, 2014, show that the company has increased turnover for continuing operations by 101% after disposing of its loss-making segments. It posted profits after tax and before fair value adjustments for continuing operations of R6.6-million. The interim results show cash on hand of R75.8-million, and the potential acquisition of US-based company Antenna Research Associates Incorporated (ARA) will provide the company with a footprint in the US, which is a long-term goal, says Poynting CEO Jürgen Dresel.

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    South African defence group Paramount announced on Thursday that it had bought the manufacturing facilities and certain other assets of DCD Protected Mobility (part of South Africa’s DCD industrial and engineering group), as well as taking transfer of selected personnel. Paramount describes itself as Africa’s largest privately-owned defence and aerospace group.

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    The Western Cape High Court on Friday granted State-owned defence industrial group Denel an interim order forbidding anyone from entering or re-entering its Philippi property in the Western Cape province. The property lies close to Khayelitsha, itself a partially formal and partially informal suburb of Cape Town. Denel’s urgent application for the interim order was argued before Judge M I Samela. Representatives of the group which had illegally occupied the company’s land were also heard by the judge. The return date for the interim order is April 21. This follows the successful securing of an interdict from the same court on Tuesday, forbidding people to illegally enter and occupy the property. The interdict also forbade anyone to incite people to illegally enter the property.

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    Despite its recent sale of its manufacturing plant at Isando, in Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg, DCD Protected Mobility is still very much in existence and in business. The company is part of the DCD industrial and engineering group and manufactures mine protected and armoured vehicles, being particularly known for its world-renowned Husky route-clearance system. The Isando plant was sold to the Paramount Group, which will also use it to build mine protected and armoured vehicles. DCD Protected Mobility will resume manufacturing its products at the DCD Group’s Boksburg plant, alongside its rolling stock manufacturing facility. The company did not sell any of its intellectual property to Paramount and remains the original equipment manufacturer of all its products. Included in the deal was an agreement to transfer about 100 staff to the Paramount Group. However, DCD Protected Mobility retains key personnel on both the technical and manufacturing sides of the business, as well as the requisite expertise, systems, techniques, tools, jigs and so on needed to manufacture its full product range.

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