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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South African State-owned aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company Denel Aviation has officially inaugurated its new MRO Centre for Russian Mil Mi-8- and Mi-17-family helicopters. The new service centre is a joint initiative with Russian Helicopters, the State-owned Russian company that incorporates the world-renowned Mil and Kamov brands.

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    South African missiles and unmanned air vehicles company Denel Dynamics has unveiled a new missile technology development programme. The new programme, designated Marlin, is focused on technology for a new family of all-weather air defence missiles. The intent is to produce both air-to-air missile (AAM) and surface-to-air missile (SAM) versions of the Marlin. The AAM model would be in the beyond-visual-range category while the SAM would come in naval and army versions.

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    Specialist South African mine-protection and demining company Denel Mechem has announced the development of a new multipurpose truck fitted with a new mine-protected cab. The new truck is based on a Powerstar drive train and is aimed at civil and military operators in regions where there are high risks of landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) – either conflict or immediate post-conflict zones. Civilian operators need to be able to transport aid materials, medicines, food and water in these environments, while military operators need to move many of the same types of goods, plus troops, spare parts and ammunition. The company is also targetting the new vehicle at the South African National Defence Force, which needs to replace its current range of Samil trucks. The new Denel Mechem truck can already be provided in standard, water, fuel and medical support versions. The new vehicle is fitted with the new mine-protected cab as standard. This provides significantly improved protection from IEDs, landmines and fire from 7.62 x 51 mm automatic rifles.

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    South Africa’s globally-respected specialist mine protection and demining company Denel Mechem made two major announcements last month. The first was of the company’s development of a new generation version of the renowned Casspir mine-protected vehicle, the Casspir NG 2000. The second was of the development of a new multipurpose truck fitted with a new mine-protected cab.

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    A dozen employees of specialist mine protection and demining company Denel Mechem have been taken hostage in southern Senegal, South African parent company Denel said in a statement on Monday. The demining group had been tasked, since August, with clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance, as well as providing landmine awareness programmes to local communities in the Casamance province.

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    The global market for armoured and mine-protected vehicles has entered a downturn, local company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (Land Systems SA) reports. This is in part due to economics and in part due to a reducing operational tempo, particularly the start of the US and allied drawdown in Afghanistan. However, the company is confident of its ability to ride out this recession.

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) will acquire one or more new “VVIP” aircraft during the current financial year. This was announced by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in her departmental Budget Vote speech on Thursday. “In November 2011, Cabinet approved the acquisition of VVIP aircraft,” she said. “We have since consulted with National Treasury and funding has now been approved for the acquisition of this capability in this financial year.”

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    The Department of Defence will push forward a number of acquisition programmes for the army during this financial year. It also wants to play a direct role in the restructuring of the local defence industry. This was revealed by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in her departmental Budget Vote speech on Thursday.

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    The South African arm of German-based defence and security group Cassidian has designed and manufactured what it describes as the world’s most modern submarine periscope in its class, at its purpose-built facility in Irene, Centurion. The R25-million SERO 250 submarine periscope system, which Cassidian Optronics MD Kobus Viljoen said was fully designed and manufactured in South Africa, featured high-performance optics, an infrared camera, a still camera, laser capabilities, as well as night vision equipment.

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    European military transport and multiple aircraft producer Airbus Military has confirmed that it is in the early stages of talks with South Africa about its C295 light/medium aircraft family. "We've been talking with South Africa about the 295, for maritime surveillance and transport," Airbus Military light and medium aircraft programmes head Rafael Tentor told Engineering News Online in Seville, Spain, on Wednesday. "We have a campaign there, in its early stages, for both maritime surveillance and transport."

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    Airbus Military president and CEO Domingo Ureña-Raso was not unhappy that he left major A400M work packages with South African companies after the country cancelled its order for eight of the aircraft in November 2009. "I don't regret taking the decision to keep work in South Africa," he told Engineering News Online on Wednesday night, at a company function in Seville, Spain.

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    Should South Africa order any type of Airbus Military aircraft, the company would be willing to allow South African involvement in their support. "We know the capabilities of the South African industry," Airbus Military Customer Services head Philippe Galland pointed out to Engineering News Online. "We'd be willing to partner with them in maintenance, if the customer wants."

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  • 05/30/13--23:15: National insecurity
  • One of the unintentionally funny aspects of “l’affaire Gupta” – in which a chartered jet landed at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria carrying guests from India for a wedding being celebrated by the wealthy and politically very-well-connected Gupta family, who were then escorted by police and traffic officers in a long convoy of luxury vehicles to the wedding venue, at Sun City near Rustenburg – which is currently causing uproar in South Africa, was the claim by some (particularly politicians) that national security had been, or could have been, compromised. What is funny about this is that, to all practical intents and purposes, South Africa has no national security.

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    Cybercrime has become a national crisis, said South African Centre for Information Security CEO Beza Belayneh on Tuesday, equating the scale to that of South Africa’s prevalent HIV/Aids pandemic. Speaking at a Neotel/Mail & Guardian business breakfast, he said that South Africa had ranked the third-most “fished” country in the world, and was open to attack in a well-connected society.

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    State-owned defence industrial group Denel hopes that its R21-billion order book for the next six to eight years will enable it to become self-sustainable over the longer term and to avoid further financial dependence on the fiscus. “We will no longer be the drain on the State that we have been [in the past],” Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee said at a media briefing on Tuesday.

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    South African privately-held defence group Paramount believes that the local defence industry needs to consolidate and cooperate to compete successfully in the increasingly competitive international market. “Paramount is always open to cooperation,” affirmed group Chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz on Thursday. “If we are able to present a consolidated ‘SA Inc.’ face we can compete with the big [global] players. We have the capabilities, we have the flexibility.” He was speaking at a press briefing at which he confirmed what had long been suspected – that Paramount was taking over troubled local aerospace and defence company Advanced Technologies & Engineering, better known as ATE. The takeover comes into effect on Monday and thereafter ATE will trade as Paramount Advanced Technologies. “In the defence industry, in a small country like South Africa, there isn’t really room for much competition. The only customers for legitimate defence companies are governments, and governments want to know they’re getting an offer from a country,” he highlighted. “Today there are two dominant players in the [local] aerospace and defence industry – ourselves and [State-owned] Denel. In terms of scale and size we are much smaller than Denel but we are quickly approaching the same size.”

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    South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle and associated systems manufacturer BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (Land Systems SA) is focusing its efforts away from the market segment now generally known (from US terminology) as mine resistant ambush protected (Mrap) vehicles, due to its downward trend. “We’ll focus on 4x4 light patrol vehicles,” states Land Systems SA MD Johan Steyn. “The 4x4 Mrap market has fallen away. We’re not banking on it.”

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) will acquire one or more new “VVIP” aircraft during the current financial year. And a number of acquisition programmes for the army will be pushed forward. The Department of Defence also wants to play a direct role in the restructuring of the local defence industry. This was all announced by Defence and Military Veterans Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in her departmental budget speech on May 23.

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    European military transport and multirole aircraft producer Airbus Military has announced that it is developing a new version of its highly successful C295 aircraft, the C295W. This version is fitted with winglets (hence the "W" suffix) and has engine enhancements, developed in cooperation with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

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  • 07/14/13--04:20: New A400M work for Denel
  • South African State-owned aerospace company Denel Aerostructures (DAe) has been awarded a new, €15.1-million (R200-million), work package by European manufacturer Airbus Military to produce structural parts for the A400M military transport aircraft. The contract was announced at the Paris Airshow on Tuesday evening. This A400M work package is the third to be awarded to the South African company and covers the manufacture of the ribs, spars and “swords” – or in other words the framework – of the the vertical tail plane. DAe has already started preparations to manufacture these components and the first complete “shipset” is scheduled to be delivered to the Airbus vertical tail plane plant at Stade in Germany in March next year. “Denel, with its diverse set of expertise, capabilities and capacities, is central to Airbus Military’s ambition to develop an expanded and multifaceted partnership with South Africa’s high-tech aerospace and defence industry, tied to South Africa’s military aircraft requirements and acquisitions,” stated Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña.

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