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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    The Earth Observation (EO) Directorate of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has developed an advanced crop-monitoring system for South Africa that will also be made available to other African countries, in due course. “We are able to monitor their [the crops’] condition through time,” Sansa EO acting MD Dr Paida Mangara told the 37th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (ISRSE) in Pretoria.

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    The National Treasury on Friday reaffirmed, in a press release, that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba continues to oppose the proposed joint venture between the State-owned Denel defence industrial group and VR Laser Asia, intended to create a company called Denel Asia. The press release was issued in reaction to “media statements attributed to Denel” regarding the matter, which National Treasury had “noted”. National Treasury stated that Minister Gigaba had met with Denel Chairperson Daniel Mantshe to discuss Denel Asia. The Minister made clear his rejection of the deal, on the grounds of Denel’s fragile financial situation. He also “invited” Denel to withdraw its court case against the National Treasury. “The position of the Minister of Finance has not changed in this regard,” affirmed National Treasury in its press release. “He remains opposed to the transaction for reasons stated elaborately in the National Treasury affidavit to court.”

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    The Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced on Wednesday that South African nanosatellite nSight1 had been successfully launched from the International Space Station last week, on May 24. nSight1 was designed and built by SCS Space, part of the local SCS Aerospace Group, and is the country’s, and indeed Africa’s, first privately-owned nanosatellite. “The satellite is an important milestone, demonstrating the outcome of the capability established through the Department of Science and Technology’s ongoing investment in the South African space programme,” highlighted DST Deputy Director General: Technology Innovation Mmoboneni Muofhe. “More than 70% of the satellite is made up of satellite components supplied by enterprises in the South African space industry.” The assembly of nSight1 took six months, and made use of South Africa’s entire space infrastructure. It is the fourth South African satellite launched into space, following Sunsat (launched in 1999), SumbandilaSat (2009) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology nanosatellite ZACube-1 (2013).

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    Giant US aerospace and defence group Boeing on Thursday announced that the application period for its International Business Internship Programme (IBIP), which is now open to South African students, will start on June 6 and close on July 15. This registration period for internships that will run from January to July next year. “The students will be provided with US-based work experience and will prove extremely valuable when they return and invest their new skills to the benefit of South Africa,” highlighted Johannesburg-based Boeing MD: sub-Saharan Africa and director of commercial airplane sales for Africa J Miguel Santos. “Having Boeing on your resumé could be a launching pad for your future career.”

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    The commercial and general aviation (GA) sector in South Africa is currently facing significant challenges that really need to be addressed if it is to remain healthy over the coming years. So cautions the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (Caasa).

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    South Africa’s Competition Commission has recommended that State-owned defence and aerospace group Denel be allowed to buy local aero-engine company Turbomeca Africa (TMA). The recommendation was given to the Competition Tribunal. The Commission announced this decision on late last month.

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    The civilian version of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules military airlift aircraft, the LM-100J, made its maiden flight on May 25, the company announced on the same day. This first flight was from the company’s plant at Marietta in the US State of Georgia, and during it the aircraft followed the same test flight route, over northern Georgia and the adjacent state of Alabama, used for all C-130Js. “I was proud to fly the first flight of our LM-100J,” highlighted LM-100J programme Chief Test Pilot Wayne Roberts. “It performed flawlessly, as is typical of our military C-130J new production aircraft.”

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    US aerospace company Boeing and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) announced last month that they would collaborate on a project to design, build and test a technology demonstration vehicle capable of launching small payloads into low earth orbit as part of Darpa’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) programme.

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    Pre-Cabinet level discussions are under way within the government about transferring State-owned defence industrial group Denel from the aegis of the Department of Public Works to that of the Department of Defence (DoD). This was stated by Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube at a function marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) in Pretoria on Thursday. He was responding to a question from the audience. He reported that, so far, the attitudes regarding this proposed transfer of supervision had been positive. This included the responses from Denel itself.

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    The title of the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan has been claimed by the newly constructed Stratolaunch Aircraft, currently under development at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California, in the US.

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    The world’s first high-power satellite employing an all-electrical propulsion system, Eutelsat 172B, has been successfully launched from Kourou in French Guiana, manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space announced on June 2. The new satellite will provide broadcast, in-flight broadband, and improved telecommunications across the Asia-Pacific region. http://preditor.creamermedia.co.za/article.view.php?ct_id=1&op=new#

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    Large market value and a broad spectrum of industries, ranging from agriculture, mining, transport and logistics, to filmmaking are being disrupted by remotely piloted aircraft, otherwise known as drones, according to professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

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    Brazil’s Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE – National Institute for Space Research) has been providing training for Earth observation (EO) specialists from African and other countries (in Asia and Latin America), under its Capacitree programme, which is a capacity-building project in forest monitoring by satellite. Capacitree is coordinated by the Amazon Regional Centre, one of INPE’s three regional centres. Brazil is the only country located in the tropical region that has a forest monitoring programme, and since 2010 has offered its expertise to countries interested in maintaining their forests. “Brazil has a very robust forest monitoring programme, the biggest in the world,” points out INPE EO Directorate head Dr Leila Fonseca. It started in 1988 with using satellite-based remote sensing to monitor the Brazilian Amazon rainforest.

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    Major global plane maker Airbus on Monday unveiled a proposed refined version of its flagship product, the A380 SuperJumbo airliner. This proposal is designated the A380plus, and is intended to increase the aircraft’s economics and efficiency while retaining passenger comfort. The A380plus design incorporates various aerodynamic refinements. The most important of these are large new winglets, although there are also other refinements to the wing design. These winglets are some 4.7 m in height (3.5 m above the wing and 1.2 m below the wing). These aerodynamic improvements would reduce the airliner’s fuel consumption by up to 4%. Added to improved cabin features, already unveiled in April at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, these enhancements would reduce the aircraft’s cost per seat by 13%, in comparison to the current standard A380s.

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    AltX-listed Ansys celebrated a successful turnaround, its thirtieth year in operation and its tenth year as a listed company with a surge in earnings in what CEO Teddy Daka described as an exceptional 12 months to March 31. The technology-based solutions company had registered a second consecutive year of growth, achieving double- or triple-digit growth across the board during the 2017 financial year, following its breakthrough two years ago when the company bounced back into the black after persistent losses.

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    Pre-Cabinet level discussions are under way within the Government about transferring State-owned defence industrial group Denel from the aegis of the Department of Public Works to that of the Department of Defence (DoD). This was stated by Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube at a recent function marking the 25th anniversary of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) in Pretoria. He was responding to a question from the audience. He reported that, so far, the attitudes regarding this proposed transfer of supervision had been positive. This included the responses from Denel itself.

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    The aerospace industry has, among others, two important international players – Airbus and Boeing. This applies to local aerospace as well as international aerospace manufacturing industries, all competing to be part of the global supply chain. Aerospace manufacturing in South Africa is dependent on commercial manufacturing for these global players. “Each region that plays a role in aerospace manufacturing creates programmes to draw international companies into their countries, giving them an incentive to invest in their manufacturing processes,” says Department of Trade and Industry Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI) manager Mariè Botha.

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    The global aviation industry is increasingly focusing on cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity … has become a  major concern,” highlighted International Air Transport Association (Iata) regional VP: Africa and the Middle East Muhammad Ali Albakri at a recent media briefing at OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg. “Cybersecurity is so complex,” he pointed out. It involves systems used by airports, air traffic navigation service (air traffic control) providers, airlines, airliners and manufacturers. “Part of the challenge in the aviation industry is the challenge of exchanging [cybersecurity] information. That doesn’t happen today.”

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) showcased its air power capability to delegates and foreign airforce personnel during its yearly Air Power Capability Demonstration 2017 (APCD 2017) event – a live fire capability demonstration held at the Roodewal Weapons Range near Polokwane, in Limpopo, earlier this month.

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    Major global plane maker Airbus on Monday unveiled a proposed refined version of its flagship product, the A380 SuperJumbo airliner. This proposal is designated the A380plus, and is intended to increase the aircraft’s economics and efficiency while retaining passenger comfort.

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