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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel announced on Wednesday that 21 of its Casspir NG2000 mine protected vehicles were ready for handing over to an African customer, completing an order for 45 of the vehicles. The first batch of 24 was delivered to the customer in December last year. The client country has not been identified. “To strengthen Denel’s commitment we have two in-country technical representatives who aid and assist the client on all technical matters and facilitate fleet management and support training,” highlighted Denel Mechem GM Peter Faro. This has pleased the customer, which has had past experience of buying equipment, with little or no technical support after delivery.

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    The extent of the wealthy, politically connected Gupta family’s “web of corruption” is becoming increasingly evident and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula needs to explain to parliament the “outrageous access” the Guptas had to classified military information, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Sunday. The DA would write to the chair of parliament’s defence committee to request that Mapisa-Nqakula urgently brief the committee on how the Gupta family gained access to classified military information for their much reported Sun City family wedding in 2013, DA spokesperson Kobus Marais said.

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    Creamer Media’s Samantha Herbst talks to senior journalist Keith Campbell about the state of South Africa’s defence industry.

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    South Africa’s defence and aerospace industry forms a major part of the country’s high-technology manufacturing and services sector. Moreover, the high-level skills it has developed and is maintaining are benefitting other sectors of the economy as well. According to the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD), the local aerospace and defence sector had an annual turnover estimated at R19-billion in 2015, up from R15.8-billion in 2014 and R13.3-billion in 2013. Of the R19-billion earned in 2015, 62% came from exports. The country’s single biggest defence group is State-owned Denel, which had a turnover of about R5.6-billion in 2015. In total, there are currently 79 member companies in AMD.

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    To meet the needs of the rapidly expanding drones market, a new retail and aftersales support, repair and training network has been established through a partnership between technology support company weFix and drone training service provider Drone Racing Africa (DRA).

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    South Africa’s Overberg Test Range was the site of the first flight of the Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) Sagitta jet-powered unmanned air vehicle (UAV) demonstrator, the European company announced on Tuesday. The aircraft, a flying-wing design, flew autonomously over the test range (which is owned and operated by South Africa’s State-owned Denel defence industrial group) for seven minutes, following a pre-programmed route. The UAV has been developed in a cooperative programme between Airbus DS and a number of institutions in Germany: the German Aerospace Centre (better known by its German initials, DLR), the University of the Federal Armed Forces, the Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences and the Technical Universities of Chemnitz and of Munich. This programme was part of the national Open Innovation/Sagitta initiative, which was started by Airbus in 2010, and intended to create leading edge technologies for UAVs. “With Sagitta’s first flight, we have proved just how successful a cooperation between industry and academic partners can be in the area of basic research,” enthused Airbus DS Engineering Head Grazia Vittadini. “We are increasingly shifting our focus towards these kinds of innovative concepts, in particular for the development of UAVs, so that we can develop products quickly and efficiently for a growing market.”

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    The joint European Space Agency (ESA) and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) modular space probe BepiColombo has passed its final test in its launch and transit flight “stack” configuration, ESA announced on July 6. BepiColombo will become only the third spacecraft to explore the planet Mercury, after two US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) missions, Mariner 10 (1973-1975; this probe did not orbit Mercury but executed three fly-bys of the planet) and Messenger (2011-2015).

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel announced early this month that 21 of its Casspir NG2000 mine protected vehicles were ready for handing over to an African customer, completing an order for 45 of the vehicles. The first batch of 24 was delivered to the customer in December last year. The client country has not been identified, but previous media reports suggest that it could be Angola. “To strengthen Denel’s commitment we have two in-country technical representatives who aid and assist the client on all technical matters and facilitate fleet management and support training,” highlighted Denel Mechem GM Peter Faro. This has pleased the customer, which has had past experience of buying equipment, with little or no technical support after delivery. Denel can also provide training for both drivers and technicians. It can further supply spares for Level 1 to Level 3 repairs. 

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    To holidaymakers the Indian Ocean usually appears a balmy body of sea. But, over the horizon, out of sight, great political forces are moving across the ocean and its subsidiary seas and gulfs, creating rougher waters.

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    Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has approved and gazetted for public comment the draft Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) code for the defence industry, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced on Friday. In line with the BBBEE Act, there will now be a 60-day period for public comment and input before the defence industry code is gazetted for implementation. In his statement about the code, Davies cited two elements as being of particular importance. One is that defence companies will have to obtain 60% of “products” from local companies, while the other is that they must support those enterprises which introduce new technologies into the sector. “This is a defence industry specific element designed to stimulate local manufacturing and increase global competitiveness,” he affirmed. “The other key highlight is that for private sector entities in [the] defence industry must sub-contract no less than 30% of any contract exceeding R30-million to companies owned by the Black designated groups. This will enable such companies to be sustainable.”

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    The investigation into State capture by Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday hit its first hurdle as it was confirmed to members that the legislature would not pay for an independent evidence leader. Acting chairperson Zukiswa Rantho told MPs she had asked the chair of chairs, Cedric Frolick, for an evidence leader for the probe, which has been extended to cover not only allegations of State capture at Eskom, but Transnet and Denel as well. But Parliamentary legal advisors then made a submission in which they claimed it would set a precedent if the task of evidence leader would be outsourced that the institution could not afford.

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    State-owned Denel has appointed Odwa Mhlwana CFO and Vuyokazi Xaxa company secretary and legal officer.   “The new additions to our executive team are critical to create stability in Denel and will contribute to our transformation into a self-sustaining State-owned company,” says Denel acting CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe.   Mhlwana and Xaxa have both occupied executive positions in the defence and public sector environments for more than a decade and have served in acting capacities in Denel prior to their new appointments.   Ntshepe says the Denel board in June approved its new strategy and the new leadership team will play a pivotal role in its implementation. “They will help us to achieve our strategic objectives which are the building blocks of a ‘One Denel’ of the future.”

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    Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies has approved and gazetted for public comment the draft Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) code for the defence industry, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced on August 4. In line with the BBBEE Act, there will now be a 60-day period for public comment and input before the defence industry code is gazetted for implementation.

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    South Africa's State-owned Denel defence industrial group has exited the Denel Asia joint venture (JV) company. This was announced on Friday by Denel acting Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe, addressing a media briefing (about the company's financial results) at the group's head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. "Since its establishment, Denel Asia has not traded due to differences of opinion with the National Treasury, which have been widely covered in the media, at times based on perceptions and not fact," he stated. "The Denel Asia JV became the focus of negative attention from the media to the detriment of the Denel brand, that is both locally and internationally."

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    South African defence industrial group Denel has announced that it will have a strong presence at next month’s International Defence Industry Exhibition, in the city of Kielce in Poland. The exhibition is known as MSPO for short, from the initials of its name in Polish. “Eastern and Central Europe are important target markets for Denel, especially in the field of landward defence, armoured vehicles, mine-protected vehicles and infantry weapon systems,” affirmed Denel acting Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe in a media statement. Five companies from the State-owned group will be attending the show. These will be Denel PMP, Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR), Denel Land Systems (DLS), Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) and LMT.

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  • 09/01/17--15:00: Denel exits Denel Asia JV
  • Creamer Media's Chanel de Bruyn speaks to Engineering News Senior Deputy Editor Keith Campbell about State-owned Denel’s decision to exit the controversial Denel Asia joint venture.

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    Helicopter manufacturer Airbus Helicopters has contracted defence and security company Saab to produce the Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) self-protection system for the H225M Caracal multirole utility helicopters, with deliveries scheduled for 2020.

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    The latest generation of aircraft transponder technology, known as ADS-B, offers to provide the safety and security necessary to prevent collisions between manned aircraft and civil unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, popularly known as drones) and so will allow drones to be operated in controlled air space. This was highlighted last month by Commercial Unmanned Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CUAASA) President Dean Polley. He was speaking at the recent Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) briefing at CAASA House in Lanseria International Airport during a CAASA media day (CUAASA is a member of CAASA).

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    With industry moving towards embracing the technology advancement of Industry 4.0, manufacturing company DMG MORI aims to improve machine tools operation efficiency through remote maintenance, operation status management and accurate failure prediction for machines using networking, software and sensors.

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    This year, the Young Professional Forum, initiated by the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI), will be held alongside the International Forum for Aviation Research’s open session that will take place on October 24.

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