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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    In a written reply to a Parliamentary question, South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has revealed that the government has budgeted R100-million to lease a VIP jet during the 2016/17 financial year. She further confirmed that a Request for Offer had been issued on August 18. Once the tender process has been completed, and assuming there is a successful bid, the aircraft should be delivered to the South African Air Force (SAAF) on November 1 this year. It should be noted that the South African government’s financial year runs from April 1 to March 31. This means that the aircraft would be operated for just the last five months of the 2016/17 financial year. The official opposition party in Parliament, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has, in a press release, strongly attacked the proposed aircraft lease. (The question which elicited Mapisa-Nqakula’s written reply had been posed by DA Shadow Defence and Military Veterans Minister Sarel JF Marais.)

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    The Competition Commission has approved, with conditions, an intermediate merger whereby defence products supplier Reutech intends to acquire Nanoteq. Both companies supply the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) through the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor), with Reutech specialising in tactical communication systems for the defence environment.

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) will acquire a new VIP aircraft for presidential travel, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula affirmed on Tuesday, reported specialist news website Defenceweb. While this acquisition process is under way, an aircraft will be leased to provide an interim VIP capability. Leasing, she asserted, was a cheaper option than chartering VIP aircraft, which is the current practice. The leased aircraft will be required for a minimum of 18 months, before the purchased aircraft comes into service.

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    Trade in the defence and security sector between the UK and South Africa is increasingly significant, British High Commissioner to South Africa Dame Judith Macgregor told Engineering News Online on Wednesday. "It's not a huge part of our trade relationship but it is important and growing and it's a growing area of cooperation," she pointed out. British defence and security exports to South Africa are worth some £22-million a year, she reported. This amounts to about a third of total British defence and security exports to sub-Saharan Africa.

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    Following a successful appearance at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 Exhibition, which led to a number of British and South African companies signing partnership agreements, Britain's Defence and Security Organisation (DSO), a unit of the Department of International Trade, is seeking to build on this success at AAD 2016. "South Africa is our priority market in the [African] region," highlighted DSO regional director for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South and Central Asia Sophie Lane at a press conference at AAD 2016 on Wednesday.

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    The Presidency has denied claims that President Jacob Zuma prefers to use chartered aircrafts instead of the South African Air Force (SAAF) fleets. "The Presidency reiterates that it prefers the use of aircraft within the South African Air Force fleet to transport the President and Deputy President (Cyril Ramaphosa) and allegations made by aviation experts in the media that Zuma prefers chartered aircrafts are not true," Presidency spokesperson Dr Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.

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    South Africa-headquartered defence and aerospace platform manufacturer Paramount Group this week unveiled, for the first time in Africa, its high-mobility 8 X 8 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), the Mbombe 8, during the Africa Aerospace & Defence (AAD) 2016 exhibition, held at Airforce Base Waterkloof, in Centurion, outside Pretoria. The Mbombe 8 adds to the existing family of Mbombe vehicles, including the Mbombe 4 and Mbombe 6, with the addition of a fourth axle to improve manoeuvrability and increase payload capabilities.

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    South African defence group Denel unveiled its conceptual Africa Truck at Africa Aerospace & Defence (AAD) this week as a potential logistical support vehicle for African militaries and defence organisations.

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    Large orders from the US government for Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules transport and multimission aircraft are helping the manufacturer keep down the acquisition costs for the aircraft for all customers. At the end of last year, Washington placed a multiyear contract for 78 C-130Js, plus options, of which seven have so far been exercised, taking the order to 85 so far. "This gives economies of scale, big time," Lockheed Martin International VP business development, air mobility and maritime missions Rich Johnston told Engineering News Online at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2016 exhibition on Thursday. "The cost of the C-130J has not escalated for five or six years. And we're continually driving costs out of the programme."

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    The Airbus Group (parent of Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters) is committed to help develop aeronautical industries in Africa, because it believes that this makes good business sense. For the Group, Africa is defined as sub-Saharan Africa plus Morocco (with Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria grouped with the Middle East). "We're here [Africa] to do business, but we want to support the African aeronautical industry, so that it will support our business, in the next decade," Airbus Group International VP Africa Vincent Larnicol told Engineering News Online at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition on Thursday. "We want to support Africa, and hopefully, this means business for us."

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    Airbus Helicopters and Denel Aviation announced on Thursday that they were to cooperate on the upgrading of the South African Air Force's Denel Rooivalk Mark (Mk) 1 attack helicopters. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this end at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Centurion, just south of Pretoria. The upgrade will take the form of a phased programme and will improve the supportability of the helicopter, improve reliability and replace obsolete components. The Rooivalk Mk 1 already uses Airbus Helicopter technologies in its dynamic components. The MoU also includes a proposed action plan for the companies to follow, subject to approval by the South African government.

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    Denel Land Systems (DLS) unveiled the lightest 7.62 mm calibre general purpose machine gun (GPMG) in the world at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition on Thursday. It also revealed improved versions of other infantry support weapons. "You get belt-fed assault rifles that are lighter, but they lack the sustained fire capability of a real machine gun," explained DLS CEO Stephan Burger to Engineering News Online. "We did not want to compromise on that. It's a machine gun."

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    South African defence industrial group Denel and China's Poly Technologies signed a partnership agreement at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in Centurion, just south of Pretoria, on Friday. This agreement is "to develop our joint Denel/Poly Technologies maritime business in South Africa and the region", Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime division CEO Ismail Dockrat told the media attending the event. "We have some very exciting ideas we want to pursue together," he added, pointing out that Poly Technologies has very strong experience in the maritime sector and Denel very strong experience in systems integration. This agreement, he affirmed, would take the existing relationship between the two groups to another level.

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    Creamer Media's Chanel de Bruyn speaks to Engineering News Senior Deputy Editor Keith Campbell about some of the key developments announced at the recent Africa Aerospace & Defence exhibition.

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    A new 6 000 m2 production site for rail technology provider Bombardier Transportation’s high-power propulsion equipment was opened earlier this month. Megan van Wyngaardt has the story.

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    Swedish security and defence group Saab has revealed that it and South African Defence group Denel have cooperated to integrate the former's Giraffe radar with the latter's Umkhonto surface-to-air missile. "It's producing a system that's going to be very hard to beat," affirmed Saab Country Unit Africa Head Hans Rosén to Engineering News. This development is, in a sense, a spin-off of the acquisition of the Saab Gripen fighter by the South African Air Force. During that programme, he explained, the two businesses learned to trust each other. In the pre-Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition defence media briefing in Centurion at which he announced the intended integration of the two systems, Rosén described the result as a "comprehensive solution, combining Swedish high-tech with South African high-tech. ... Two stand-alone, really, really good systems, combined into one system."

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) will acquire a VIP aircraft for Presidential travel, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula affirmed last week, reported specialist news website Defenceweb. While this acquisition process is under way, an aircraft will be leased to provide an interim VIP capability. Leasing, she asserted, was a cheaper option than chartering VIP aircraft, which is the current practice. The leased aircraft will be required for a minimum of 18 months, before the purchased aircraft comes into service.

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    South African private-sector defence company Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) is enjoying such success that it has had to recruit 198 new staff since January 2015, taking its work force up to 719 people. The company, 75%-owned by Sweden’s Saab and 25% by black South African investors, now has customers in more than 30 countries and had sales of R1.07-billion last year. “We create jobs, high-tech jobs,” highlighted SGD President and CEO Trevor Raman in a pre-Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition media briefing.

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    Trade in the defence and security sector between the UK and South Africa is increasingly significant, British High Commissioner to South Africa Dame Judith Macgregor told Engineering News at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Centurion, just south of Pretoria.. "It's not a huge part of our trade relationship but it is important and growing and it's a growing area of cooperation," she pointed out.

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    Denel Land Systems (DLS) unveiled the lightest 7.62 mm calibre general purpose machine gun (GPMG) in the world at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence 2016 exhibition. It also revealed improved versions of other infantry support weapons. "You get belt-fed assault rifles that are lighter, but they lack the sustained fire capability of a real machine gun," explained DLS CEO Stephan Burger to Engineering News. "We did not want to compromise on that. It's a machine gun."

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