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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Anticorruption nonprofit organisation Corruption Watch says that given the thoroughly flawed and irregular proceedings of the Seriti Commission over the last four years, its report on its findings on the 1998 arms deal was hardly surprising. This was in response to President Jacob Zuma’s release of the Seriti Commission’s report, on Thursday, which he said found no support or corroboration for allegations of corruption in selecting the arms manufacturers contracted by the South African government.

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    There is nothing wrong in working with any registered, legally trading business in South Africa, whether it's with the Guptas or others, the Denel board of directors said on Saturday. This follows allegations that the board “brought the Gupta family into Denel”. City Press reported last week that Denel has awarded VR Laser a contract for cutting steel for the army’s new combat vehicles. Ajay Gupta’s son Kamal Kant Singhala, 24, is reportedly the director of VR Laser. The board said Denel Asia ...

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  • 04/26/16--19:59: Denel Asia's problems mount
  • Denel Asia's problems mounted on Monday after it emerged that it had not applied for a permit to the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said "The NCACC would appreciate any evidence or information relating to such an application as this would aid the committee to investigate the matter conclusively," Radebe said, according to a written reply to a parliamentary question. The formation of a joint venture between Denel and President Jacob ...

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    Major US aerospace and defence group Lockheed Martin believes that the ability of its C-130J Super Hercules military airlifter to be reconfigured for other missions by use of palletised roll-on roll-off systems opens the way to significant South African industrial participation, should the South African Air Force (SAAF) order the aircraft. The SAAF currently operates a number of C-130BZ Hercules, originally acquired in 1963 and so now some 53 years old.

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    Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday termed Denel, which is at loggerheads with National Treasury over a joint venture with a company linked to the Gupta family, arrogant and belligerent. “One of the tendencies that we are noting in recent times is that when boards are beginning to do things that they are not supposed to do, they begin to display a level of arrogance and belligerence that does not befit them and… the board of Denel need to take that message to heart,” Gordhan said as he responded to the debate on his ministry’s budget vote.

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    Denel’s board said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s accusation that the board and executives are “arrogant and belligerent … are unsubstantiated, baseless and unfounded”. Gordhan made the accusation during his Treasury budget debate in Parliament on Wednesday. This follows a statement in April, in which Gordhan said the registration of Denel Asia was illegal and contrary to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The joint venture, to be called Denel Asia and based in Hong Kong, would ...

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    Continuing to defend its joint venture (JV) with steel manufacturing group VR Laser Services to establish Denel Asia, State-owned defence industrial group Denel told the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises in Parliament on Wednesday that its decision to extend its business footprint in South East Asia was “part and parcel” of the group’s growth strategy. Denel was currently in talks with National Treasury over the Gupta family-linked JV, which had allegedly failed to secure executive approvals in line with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) before it was established in January.

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    Government will buy a new VVIP jet for the presidency, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday. She however rubbished that it would cost up to R4-billion. “Buying the VVIP aircraft, we will. But not for [President Jacob] Zuma. There will be a president after Zuma. The VVIP aircraft is not being procured because there is President Zuma who will use it,” she told reporters ahead of her budget vote speech in Parliament. There would be another president ...

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    Brazilian aerospace group Embraer, one of the world’s four biggest commercial aircraft manufacturers, has forecast that African operators will acquire 240 new jet airliners in the 70- to 130-seat category over the next 20 years. “Africans are turning progressively to air travel,” noted Embraer Commercial Aviation VP: Latin America, Africa and Portugal Simon Newitt. “As in Asia, economic expansion, a growing urban middle class, continued market liberalisation and regional integration will be the main drivers of air transport demand.”

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    South African defence acquisition and disposal, research and development agency Armscor chairperson, retired Vice Admiral Refiloe Mudimu, has pledged the organisation's support for local small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs), especially black-owned ones, seeking to enter the defence sector. "Armscor ... stands ready to assist in any way." He was addressing the Armscor Supplier Open Day in Centurion, south of Pretoria, on Thursday. "We have called this meeting to know what we can do to help you," he said.

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    Small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs) have been urged to provide inputs for the development of the Defence Industry Sectoral Charter, which will seek, among other things, to advance black economic empowerment in the local defence industry. The call was made by Department of Defence (DoD) Industry Governance Director Trevor Mketi at the Armscor Supplier Open Day in Centurion, south of Pretoria, on Thursday. The Defence Sectoral Charter, which has been mandated by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, is currently being drawn up. "A steering committee with inclusive membership has been established to drive the development of the charter," he highlighted.

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    Getting a new presidential jet seems to be unavoidable, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in Parliament on Wednesday. "It seems to me, honourable members, this is a matter we have to talk about and agree on and close it,'' she said in Parliament.

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    Officially the world’s largest flying aircraft, the Antonov 225 (AN-225) is making a rare intercontinental flight, which started on May 10, to transport a generator from Prague, in the Czech Republic, to Perth, in Australia.

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    The news, released earlier this month, that Egypt had become Africa’s second largest economy, pushing South Africa into third place, did not create all that much of a stir. There were two good reason for this. The huge shock had been to lose first place to Nigeria, back in 2014, whose economy was both much bigger and much more diversified than previously believed. Dropping from second to third is less of a big deal when you have already dropped from first to second. But, much more importantly, this fall into third place (reported by auditing group KPMG, using International Monetary Fund – IMF – data) is really a kind of illusion. South Africa’s ranking declined in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) measured in dollars.

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    European airliner manufacturer Airbus, part of the wider Airbus Group, is not currently planning a new airline design. But that does not mean that there is no thinking about a new design. "If there is [to be] a new plane, it will be a single-aisle [airliner]," Airbus Germany board chairperson Klaus Richter told international aviation journalists in Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday evening. "For the time being, it's rather hypothetical," Richter told Engineering News Online. "Keep in mind that we have 5 000 orders in the order book for the A320 family, so there is no urgency. But there will probably be intensive discussions in the next few years about the future of single-aisle, for 2030 and after."

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    European airliner maker Airbus has designed, built and flown an entirely 3D printed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) which it has designated Thor. This was reported by Airbus Head of Emerging Technologies & Concepts Peter Sander at the Innovation Days 2016 media conference on Monday. Thor is an acronym for Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality.

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    Worldwide, air transport has proven very resilient over the past 45 years, despite periodic major crises. This was highlighted by Airbus COO customers John Leahy to international aerospace journalists in Hamburg on Tuesday. Since 1970, when the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet first entered commercial service, air traffic has grown by 12 times, he pointed out. Crises, namely, the oil crises of the early 1970s and 1980s, the Gulf crisis of 1990/1991, the Asian crisis of the later 1990s, the crisis triggered by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 ("9/11") on the US, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (better known as SARS) outbreak of the early 2000s and the 2008 financial crisis, only inflicted temporary delays in the growth of the sector. "Now, we are double the size of the industry on 9/11," he noted.

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    Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Bregier told the world's aviation media on Tuesday that "[t]he focus for 2016 is, no surprise, it is to deliver!" The company, part of the wider Airbus Group, is currently seeking to ramp up production and deliveries of its new A350-900 wide body and re-engined and refined A320neo (new engine option) single-aisle airliners. He noted that deliveries of A350-900s during 2014/2015 were in line with the company's plan. The target for deliveries this year is 50. "We've delivered only nine, so 41 to go. We'll rush to the end of this year to achieve it." (The A350-900 is the first member of the A350 XWB family.)

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    European airline manufacturer Airbus, part of the wider Airbus Group, has launched the 2017 Fly Your Ideas challenge for students around the world. Fly Your Ideas seeks to stimulate co-innovation between Airbus and, where relevant, its supplier companies, and universities around the world. "Airbus challenges students worldwide to innovate for the future of aviation," affirmed company executive VP engineering Charles Champion at the Airbus Innovation Days 2016 aviation press conference in Hamburg on Tuesday. The programme has the status of a formal partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

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    Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) have been urged to provide inputs for the development of the Defence Industry Sectoral Charter, which will seek, among other things, to advance black economic empowerment in the local defence industry. The call was made by Department of Defence (DoD) Industry Governance Director Trevor Mketi at the recent Armscor Supplier Open Day in Centurion, south of Pretoria. The Defence Sectoral Charter, which has been mandated by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, is currently being drawn up. "A steering committee with inclusive membership has been established to drive the development of the charter," he highlighted.

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