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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South African armoured and mine protected vehicles company Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) has won its first order since becoming part of the Denel group at the end of April. "It's a sizeable contract," DVS CEO Johan Steyn told Engineering News Online on Friday. "We won the contract last month. It's a follow-on contract for RG31 vehicles from a Middle Eastern country."

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    Creamer Media’s Defence 2015 report examines key developments in South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on key participants, and innovations and diversification in the sector, local and export demand, and the outlook for South Africa’s defence industry in light of current levels of local defence spending.

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    Having celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft’s (Ahrlac’s) first flight in July, South Africa-based defence solutions business Paramount Group says it will soon be able to set/finalise the aircraft’s specifications to move into commercial production. The Ahrlac is a two-crew, tandem-seated, compact twin-boom, single-engine surveillance and light-strike aircraft, designed for military and civilian applications.

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    South African guided weapons, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and space company Denel Dynamics plans to increase its revenues to more than R2-billion within five years. This was reported by company CEO Tsepo Monaheng at its annual "Show and Tell" briefing in Centurion, just south of Pretoria. In the financial year 2014/2015, Denel Dynamics achieved revenues of R1.49-billion. For 2015/2016, it hopes to receive almost R1.46-billion (the apparent fall is because the Integrated Systems Solutions unit has been moved out of Denel Dynamics, to form the new Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime division). In 2016/2017 revenues should rise to about R1.65-billion, in 2017/2018 to around R1.86-billion, in 2018/2019 to some R2.24-billion and in 2019/2020 to almost R2.44-billion. "We should be able to achieve this growth in revenues," he assured.

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    South African armoured and mine protected vehicles company Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) has won its first order since becoming part of the Denel group at the end of April. "It's a sizeable contract," reports DVS CEO Johan Steyn. "We won the contract in July. It's a follow-on contract for RG31 vehicles from a Middle Eastern country."

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    South African specialist protected vehicle company LMT, part of the Denel group, has won its three significant vehicle production contracts over the past two years. The latest “is a very lucrative deal, with a Middle Eastern client,” reports company Business Development Head Vinesh Selvan. “We’re also expecting some follow-up orders.”

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    US aerospace and defence giant Lockheed Martin believes that its latest-generation C-130J Hercules (referred to as the Super Hercules by the company) can meet three different South African defence needs, identified by the country’s 2014 Defence Review. These missions are airlift, air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and maritime patrol. “For South Africa, it meets and exceeds these gaps identified in the Defence Review,” states Lockheed Martin VP: New Business: Air Mobility & Maritime Missions Ray Fajay. “We’ve had some general discussions with the South African Air Force (SAAF) about the C-130J. My impression is that they are intrigued with what we’re presenting to them. One aircraft type, three missions and then some, rather than having to buy three aircraft types.”

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    South African private-sector defence group Paramount signed a cooperative agreement with British hovercraft company Griffon Hoverwork in London on Wednesday. The aim of this new strategic partnership is to bring British hovercraft to sub-Saharan Africa and take South African naval products to Europe. “Forging strategic partnerships that result in new market opportunities, increased growth, stronger product portfolios and continuous innovation have always been at the core of Paramount’s expansion strategy,” explained Paramount Group Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz. “Partnering with Griffon Hoverwork is therefore not only of great significance but a natural step in boosting our global naval capabilities.” “This is an exciting relationship for Griffon Hoverwork,” stated company MD Adrian Went. “Paramount brings excellent access to African and other international markets and their group capability will be a real asset to enable our product development and in-country manufacturing programmes.”

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    More than R90-million had been spent on the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV), launched in 2008, but there is neither any commercial activity nor any of the around 1 000 jobs promised, Democratic Alliance MP Patrick Atkinson said on Thursday. “I first became aware of the CAV after a parliamentary oversight visit to Aerosud, a privately owned aircraft components manufacturer, in January, were Members of Parliament were told about the adjacent Centurion Aerospace Village that the Department of Trade and Industry has been promising to create,” Atkinson told reports outside the CAV perimeter fence south of Pretoria.

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    The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced on Thursday that its new Inundu airborne electronics testing, evaluation and training pod had made its first test flight on September 10. The successful flight was undertaken from Lanseria International Airport, north-west of Johannesburg (and south-west of Pretoria). “As South Africa celebrates 75 years in radar research and development, this is a major leap forward in bringing together aeronautical, EW and radar research,” ehthused CSIR radar and EW research group manager Erlank Pienaar. “The team has taken significant strides in extending our laboratory and surface based research infrastructure to the airborne environment. This progress would not have been possible without the support we received from Epsilon Engineering Services and other industry members, such as Paramount Advanced Technologies, the National Airways Corporation and e-Systems Solutions.” The pod is designed to serve as a multipurpose flying laboratory and demonstrator for a wide range of electronics technologies as well as to support electronic warfare (EW) testing and evaluation, including electronic support and synthetic aperture radar. It can do so without needing electronic hardware hardening or ruggedisation and without affecting its interfaces with the aeroplane carrying it. Inundu is intended for use on fast jet aircraft.

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    The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has reiterated that Aerosud occupies a building in the Centurion Aerospace Village (CAV). “Assertions by the Democratic Alliance that this is not the case are baseless,” said the DTI on Monday. This as it was reported that the chairman of the privately owned aircraft components and aerostructure company denied it was a tenant at CAV. “Whilst Aerosud does have other land and buildings adjacent to the land and building belonging to government, it ...

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    State-owned defence manufacturer Denel on Wednesday placed three senior executives on special leave pending an investigation. Fin24 received a tip-off on Friday that the board placed CEO Riaz Saloojee, chief financial officer Fikile Mhlontlo and group company secretary Elizabeth Africa on special leave after a board meeting on Wednesday evening.

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    Serious cash flow problems after the recent acquisition of the local vehicle manufacturing component of BAE Systems Land Systems for more than R700-million are rumoured to be a possible reason for the suspension of three top managers at SA weapons manufacturer Denel, Netwerk24 reported on Monday. There were even claims that suppliers do not want to supply parts to Denel any more until the company pays them.

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    Acting Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe has assured that the State-owned defence industrial group will not be changing its strategy. He was giving the opening address at the group's 2015 Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Conference in Pretoria on Thursday. Late last month, Denel Group CEO Riaz Saloojee, Group CFO Fikile Mhlontlo and Group company secretary Elizabeth Africa were placed on special leave by the newly appointed board (installed in July). The board is reportedly investigating several issues, including recent business acquisitions by the group.

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    South Africa's defence procurement, disposals and research and development agency Armscor is busy changing its relationship with the South African defence industry, Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford affirmed on Thursday. It is moving from being prescriptive to industry to being collaborative with industry. "Industry is a client [of Armscor]," he asserted. "We have to come to the party!" "As a developing continent, rogue behaviour will manifest from time to time," he cautioned. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has to be prepared for this. However, "[w]e aren't fully equipped. We aren't meeting the United Nations benchmarking in certain situations."

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    AltX-listed Alaris has its eyes locked on acquisition opportunities in the US and Europe as it narrows its losses for the year ended June 30. The group, formerly known as Poynting, earlier this month abandoned its bid for Antenna Research Associates (ARA), after the US-based business failed to fulfil some of the conditions precedent to the takeover.

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    South African company Saab Grintek Defence is currently actively marketing its BattleTek military command and control (C2) simulation system to a number of African countries as well as to two in South East Asia and two in South America. “The local capability we’ve developed is world class. We offer it worldwide,” reports company Marketing: C Ockert van der Schyf. “There are no export restrictions on simulation systems.” Originally developed for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), with the first iteration being developed in 1995, and thereafter continuously upgraded, BattleTek was exported to Malaysia in 2011 and has served the Malaysian Army since then.

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    The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that its new Inundu airborne electronics testing, evaluation and training pod had made its first test flight on September 10. The successful flight was undertaken from Lanseria International Airport, north-west of Johannesburg (and south-west of Pretoria). “As South Africa celebrates 75 years in radar research and development, this is a major leap forward in bringing together aeronautical, EW and radar research,” enthused CSIR radar and EW research group manager Erlank Pienaar. “The team has taken significant strides in extending our laboratory and surface based research infrastructure to the airborne environment. This progress would not have been possible without the support we received from Epsilon Engineering Services and other industry members, such as Paramount Advanced Technologies, the National Airways Corporation and e-Systems Solutions.”

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    South African businesses have been encouraged to increase their participation in the United Nations (UN) procurement processes. UN Procurement Division field procurement service chief Sean Purcell pointed out on Thursday that the amount of goods purchased by the UN from South African companies declined from 2009 to 2012, increased in 2013 and decreased again in 2014. Currently, 988 South African companies are registered to do business with the world body. "How come South Africa companies aren't winning contracts?" he queried. "I really don't know." The UN does not yet have a system that would collect the statistics necessary to do such an analysis.

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    South African defence companies must be able to both compete and cooperate with each other. So affirmed Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) senior VP Micael Johansson on Thursday. "In South Africa and on the continent, we need to get the balance right between competition, which is necessary and healthy, and cooperation," he said. "We must cooperate where it makes sense, particularly in the high-tech areas we [the South African defence industry] are good at," he urged. "Where it makes sense, we must pool resources, in those niches where we are excellent." Thus, there could be the possibility of joint bids between South African companies for contracts in Africa. "[But] not stopping competition. We need to be extremely competitive if we are to win contracts."

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