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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    As South Africa is gripped by a wave of violent xenophobic attacks, trade union Solidarity called on government to appoint a multidisciplinary independent task team headed by a retired judge to delve into the violent uprisings against non-South Africans. While President Jacob Zuma established a Ministerial task team to curb the attacks on foreign nationals that had resulted in several deaths and the displacement of thousands of foreigners, as well as the mass looting of foreign-owned shops in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng over the past two weeks, Solidarity Movement chairperson Flip Buys indicated it was not enough.

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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.

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    Early this month South African defence group Paramount announced 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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    As is well known, at the end of last month, retired General Muhammadu Buhari defeated incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s Presidential elections. A northerner and a Muslim, Buhari won a majority of the votes in predominantly Christian States in the south west of the country, as well as mainly Muslim States in the north. Jonathan won States in the south east and central east regions of the country. (Unlike South Africa, Nigeria has direct elections for President.)

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    The Joint Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday adopted the committee’s Defence Review Report that takes the policy a step further towards adoption by Parliament. The committee viewed this as a “major milestone” towards ensuring the revitalisation of the country’s armed forces. The report would now be tabled for debate in the National Assembly (NA), where, if passed, it would ensure that the decline in the capacity and capability of the Defence Force was arrested.

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    The importance of timeously supplying the correct information to the right people is crucial to the effectiveness of emergency and security services, and these first responders can gain significant value from real-time databases, says German database giant SAP Public Security Europe, Middle East, Africa and India industry director Mark Holder. Real-time awareness can also enable first responders to provide information from the scene, including video, audio and automatic information such as global positioning system coordinates, as well as other incident-specific and contextual information to other emergency services to inform resource allocation and immediate responses.

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    Defence and specialist antenna company Alaris has recorded improved sales in many of the regions where it operates and has made good progress towards concluding an acquisition that will provide it a footprint in the US, CEO Jürgen Dresel has told Engineering News Online. Alaris, which on Monday changed its name from Poynting, reported improved sales in India, and the South-East Asia region, including Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, and growing sales within China and Australia, as well as good prospects in Africa owing to the migration from analogue television broadcasting to digital broadcasting.

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    Airbus Defence and Space, part of the Airbus Group, has confirmed that it has been briefing the South African Department of Defence and the South African Air Force (SAAF) on the progress of the A330 Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft programme. The SAAF previously operated Boeing 707 aircraft in the tanker and passenger transport roles, but these were retired some years ago, without replacement. This is not a formal marketing programme, but an information sharing activity. The MRTT, which is based on the A330-200 twin-engined wide-body airliner, has already been ordered by Australia, France, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UK. It has also been selected by India, Qatar and Spain and by a European consortium composed of the Netherlands, Norway and Poland. It is already in operational service with Australia, the UAE and the UK and reportedly, Saudi Arabia.

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    Defence and specialist antenna company Alaris Antennas recorded improved sales in many of the regions where it operates and has made good progress towards concluding an acquisition that will provide it a footprint in the US, says Alaris Holdings CEO Jürgen Dresel. Alaris Holdings, which changed its name from Poynting Holdings, reports improved sales for subsidiary Alaris Antennas in India and the South-East Asia region, including Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, and growing sales within China and Australia, as well as good prospects in Africa owing to the migration from analogue television broadcasting to digital broadcasting.

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    Defence manufacturer Denel’s order book is standing at over R33-billion‚ with over 50 percent of its profits being derived from its international business. This was disclosed by public enterprises minister Lynne Brown during her Budget Vote speech in Parliament on Thursday.

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    South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has expressed the hope that the defence budget will be significantly increased over the next five years. She was addressing the media on Tuesday in her budget vote media briefing. The 2015/2016 defence budget comes to R44.5-billion, which is about 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). "Our wish is that in, maybe, the next five years, the defence budget will be 2% of GDP, which will be in line with much of the rest of the continent."

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    JSE-listed African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) plans to dispose of its 5% stake in Saab South Africa for R20-million, while AEEI’s 60%-owned ring-fenced special purpose vehicle (SPV) AEEI Newco will pay R120-million to acquire 25% plus one share of Saab subsidiary Grintek Defence (SGD). AEEI, formerly Sekunjalo Investments, would sell its entire shareholding in Saab, comprising 313 B shares and 59 C shares, injecting the proceeds into Newco’s acquisition of shares in SGD.

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    Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has expressed pleasure that the country's defence acquisitions, disposals and research and development agency, Armscor, again has a permanent CEO. The agency was headed by an acting CEO for four years. "I'm delighted that the process of appointing the CEO of Armscor has been completed," she said during her Budget Vote media briefing on Tuesday. The new CEO is Kevin Wakefield, who was appointed in April; the previous, acting, CEO was Sipho Mkwanazi.

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    South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has expressed the hope that the defence budget will be significantly increased over the next five years. She did so while addressing the media in her recent budget vote media briefing. The 2015/2016 defence budget comes to R44.5-billion, which is about 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). "Our wish is that in, maybe, the next five years, the defence budget will be 2% of GDP, which will be in line with much of the rest of the continent."

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    More information has been released about the recent fatal crash of Airbus A400M MSN23. Airbus Defence and Space, part of the Airbus Group and manufacturer of the A400M military transport aircraft, as well as of other types, on Wednesday reported that it had issued an Accident Information Transmission on Tuesday to all A400M operators. This updated the Alert Operator Transmission (AOT) issued on May 19 and which instructed A400M operators to urgently carry out one-time specific checks on their aircraft’s engine electronic control units.

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    Acts of ill-discipline amongst members of the SA National Defence Force will not be tolerated, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said. “The military is a family unit, where in a war situation the duty to protect life doesn’t lie with you, but with your fellow soldier,” said Mapisa-Nqakula, at the Drakensig Military Sport Complex in Limpopo on Thursday evening.

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    More than 800 terrified South African soldiers in Sudan feared the worst when their camp was surrounded by Sudanese troops. "In order to save lives, we would have to have surrendered if they stormed us. One battalion of soldiers without proper weapons could not fight against an entire country's army," a South African soldier told Netwerk24.

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    The United Nations on Tuesday denied a media report that Sudanese troops held South African peacekeepers in Darfur hostage so Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could leave South Africa and avoid being arrested to face genocide charges. Bashir, who was due to attend an African Union summit in Johannesburg, left South Africa on Monday in defiance of a Pretoria court that later said he should have been arrested to face charges at The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

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    African countries should cooperate more in defence, including defence technology and the defence industry, in order to strengthen the continent's sovereignty, peace and development. So argued South African Defence acquisitions, disposals and research and development agency Armscor board chairperson, retired South African Navy Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, in his opening address at the Land Forces Africa 2015 conference and exhibition in Pretoria on Monday. "I stand before you against a background of a troubled Africa," he told the assembled delegates. He cited major terrorist attacks in a number of African countries in recent months and days, including in Egypt, Kenya and Tunisia. He noted there had been attacks on government officials, members of the security forces and civilians.

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    South African defence company Saab Grintek Defence is receiving a lot of interest from around the world in the latest version of its armoured vehicle Land Electronics Defence System (LEDS) 50, the Mark (Mk) 2. "We've received a lot of requests for proposals," reports company product manager: land self-protection systems Leon Ferreira. "The requirement for soft-kill capability has become more prominent in the past year or so. We're seeing increased interest." The LEDS 50 Mk 2 is a significant refinement of the original LEDS 50 Mk 1. The Mk 1 was sold to a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) army. The Mk 2 is now in production for two customers, one being another Nato country and the second a Middle Eastern country. First deliveries of the Mk 2 system will start in October. It is now a military-off-the-shelf system, ready for other customers.

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