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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Spanish State-owned shipbuilding group Navantia has confirmed that, if its design is chosen for the South African Navy’s (SAN’s) new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), they will be built locally. The SAN is seeking to procure new OPVs and inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) under Project Biro and Navantia is offering its BAM design for the OPV requirement. (BAM is the Spanish acronym for Maritime Action Vessel.) “If the BAM is selected by the SAN, the ships will be built in South Africa, with help and technology transfer from Navantia,” assures Navantia President José Manuel Revuelta. “What we want to do is increase our cooperation with South Africa industry, through the Paramount Group. But the ships would be built in South Africa – that is the main idea. Navantia would help Paramount with the building of the ships, like we have done with partners in Australia, with the [Royal Australian Navy’s] air warfare destroyers (AWDs).”

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    The changing and deteriorating international situation is having a clear impact on European defence enterprise Airbus Defence and Space, company military aircraft sales head Antonio Rodriguez Barberan reported at its recent Trade Media Briefing (TMB). "There are conflicts," he pointed out. "There are conflicts in the Middle East, there are conflicts in Africa, there is fear of conflict in Asia."

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    Airbus Defence and Space regards its C295 light/medium transport and maritime patrol aircraft as the best product in its range to meet the needs of the South African Air Force (SAAF) in these areas. The company has also been working on surveillance versions of its A320 single-aisle airliner. "Our initial approach to South Africa is for a combined fleet of C295s to replace the CN235, C212 and turbo-Dakotas for transport and for maritime patrol," company intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) light and medium transport and unmanned air vehicle marketing head Fernando Ciria told Engineering News at the recent Airbus Defence and Space Trade Media Briefing (TMB).

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    The use of additive manufacturing (popularly known as 3D printing) has helped revolutionise product development at South African defence company Airbus DS Optronics. It is one of the technologies adopted by the company to enable it to carry out rapid prototyping of new products. The company is renowned for its electro-optical sensor payloads, fitted to fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. "Since 2011, when we started with additive manufacturing, we've produced four new payloads," company Principal Mechanical Engineer Gerhard Smit told Engineering News Online on Friday. "Before that, between 2002 and 2010, we produced three."

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    South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel on Monday announced that its recently acquired subsidiary, Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS – previously BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa or LSSA) had finalised a R900-million contract with United Arab Emirates group Nimr. The deal covers the development and supply of the N35, hitherto known as the RG35, armoured and mine protected vehicle. “We are delighted to work with Nimr, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wheeled armoured vehicles,” affirmed Denel Group executive: business development Zwelakhe Ntshepe. “There is a strong synergy between our companies and products and we are confident that we can, together, develop and improve the N35 to be among the best in its class.” Denel describes the N35 as “an armoured vehicle with superior mine protection and combat capabilities that can be used in command, ambulance and recovery roles”.

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    German-based Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security, currently a business unit of Airbus Defence and Space (itself part of the Airbus Group) has its biggest foreign operation in South Africa. "Our second biggest site is in South Africa," highlighted company media relations senior manager Lothar Belz. "It's our second biggest footprint and of course we want to grow it.” The South African operation is composed of two entities: Airbus Defence and Space (DS) Optronics South Africa (SA) and GEW Technologies (Tech – previously Grintek Ewation). Both companies have local shareholders. Denel owns 30% of Airbus DS Optronics SA while the Kunene Finance Company holds 25% of GEW Tech. Both the South African operations have achieved Level 4 black economic empowerment.

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    European defence company Airbus Defence and Space has developed a system to counter small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), also known as remotely-piloted aircraft (RPAs). "We target small commercial UAVs; we do not target military UAVs," explained company mission and support systems sales head Meinrad Edel. "In France, these commercial UAVs have been flown over nuclear power plants. In Germany, we've had incidents of such drones trying to fly into prisons to try and smuggle things in. We believe these UAVs will become a real problem over the next five years. We've just seen the start of UAVs."

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    Owing to the continuously evolving needs of the South African Air Force (SAAF), aviation and service offering company Safomar plans to ensure that the Vibration Control Centre (VCC) at SAAF is well renowned for excellence in vibration management globally.

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    South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced that its recently acquired subsidiary, Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS – previously BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa or LSSA) had finalised a R900-million contract with United Arab Emirates group Nimr. The deal covers the development and supply of the N35, hitherto known as the RG35, armoured and mine protected vehicle.

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  • 11/27/15--18:09: AEEI concludes Saab deal
  • African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) announced on Thursday that it has completed the R125m deal to acquire a 25% plus one share stake in Saab Grintek Defence (SGD). SGD is the South African subsidiary of Swedish defence and civil security company, Saab and the group's largest operation outside of its headquarters in Sweden.

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    The University of Pretoria is well advanced in a programme to experimentally validate numerical simulation software developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to accurately model the sloshing of fuel in an aircraft's fuel tank. This was unveiled at a joint briefing at the university on Friday. The project is taking place under the aegis of the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative of the Department of Trade and Industry. It involves Business Enterprises at the University of Pretoria (BEatUP), the CSIR and local aerospace company Denel Aerostructures (DAe).

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    Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown reported on Tuesday that far-reaching interMinisterial committee (IMC) discussions were advancing on how best to reform South Africa’s State-owned companies (SoCs), many of which were currently underperforming. There are around 700 SoCs, with Brown having shareholder responsibility for Eskom, Transnet, Denel, SA Express, Alexkor and Safcol – the six entities collectively had assets worth more than R900-billion. She no longer oversaw South African Airways, which had the National Treasury as its shareholder department, while entities such as the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the South African National Roads Agency fell under the Department of Transport.

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    South African private-sector defence group Paramount announced on Tuesday that it had started production at its new armoured vehicle plant in the Central Asian country of Kazakhstan. The start of production was marked by a visit to the plant by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Defence Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov. The plant was built and is operated by Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE), which is a joint venture between Paramount and local company LLC Kazakhstan Engineering Distribution. The creation of the factory involved technology transfer and followed Paramount’s model of local manufacturing through strategic alliances (with companies and countries). The facility covers an area of 15 000 m2, and has a production capacity of more than 200 vehicles a year. The programme has so far created 70 skilled jobs, a number which will increase to 120 over the next few months and thereafter to 150. The factory is intended to serve the regional as well as the national markets.

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    Airbus Defence and Space (Military Aircraft) is highly optimistic for exports sales of its A400M military transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft, outside the programme’s seven European core partner nations (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK). “Our clear target is more than 300 [export] aircraft over the next 30 years,” affirmed A400M programme head Kurt Rossner.

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    A decision taken more than a decade ago to close Durban’s naval facilities was a mistake, South Africa’s Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Tuesday. Mapisa-Nqakula made the comments at a sod-turning ceremony ‎held at the Salisbury Island Naval Station to mark the beginning of the process to upgrade the facility into a fully functional naval base.

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    The Presidency has described the criticism by the DA of the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Fraud, Corruption, Impropriety or Irregularity in the Strategic Defence Procurement Package as “unwarranted” and “irresponsible”. The Arms Procurement Commission report compiled by the chairperson Judge Willie Seriti and commissioner Judge Thekiso Musi was submitted to President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, 30 December 2015.

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    The acting CEO of South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel, Zwelakhe Ntshepe, is “delighted” at his company’s role in helping prepare young South Africans to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He was speaking at the group’s annual Young Achievers Awards ceremony in Pretoria on Friday. He defined the First Industrial Revolution as the invention of machines and the ending of humanity’s dependence on animal power, the Second as being the invention of mass production and the third as being the development of digital technology. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will see the fusion of the physical, biological and digital worlds.

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    State-owned aerospace and defence technology group Denel has expanded the range of its recovery vehicles based on the well-known Casspir mine resistant system, responding to what it describes as “keen interest” by clients on the African continent.   The latest addition to the Mechem vehicle line-up – the heavy-duty Casspir Eland recovery vehicle – is a 6x6 configuration based on the well-known Casspir NG2000 series. With its monocoque design, the Eland is larger and heavier than the 4x4 wheel variant, the Casspir Gemsbok, with two of these recovery variants having recently been ordered by the Angolan Defence Force.   Mechem GM Ashley Williams described “considerable” international interest in the Casspir series of vehicles, noting that Denel had recently concluded a long-term agreement to supply various mine-protected variants to an important international client.

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    Comprehensive land and sea border surveillance and security systems are entirely feasible with today’s technology. So assures specialist German-based Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security, part of Airbus Defence and Security, itself part of the Airbus Group. “We are for sure the market leader in this part of the [defence and security] business,” affirms Airbus DS Electronics and Border Security Integrated Systems VP Dr Thomas Jacob. “We have secured more than 10 000 km of borders.” The company has undertaken major projects in France, Romania, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, delivering its border and coastal surveillance systems to those countries.

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    South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser. “This is a vitally important region for Denel to expand its business and find new markets for our world-class products, especially in the fields of artillery, armoured vehicles, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles,” affirmed Denel Acting Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe. “We need a firm foothold in this region and the establishment of Denel Asia with its headquarters in Hong Kong will give us a strong presence and the ability to pursue opportunities that will soon arise,” The target markets for the new company include Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. These have all stated that they will launch large new defence acquisition programmes, as well as increase their research and development (R&D) budgets, over the next four years.

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