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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Britain must ensure its armed forces can keep up with adversaries like Russia, which already has military capabilities the United Kingdom would struggle to match, according to the head of the British army. The comments from Chief of the General Staff Nick Carter, due to be delivered in a speech on Monday, reflect concerns among the top brass and some politicians that defense spending is being too tightly squeezed because of wider fiscal austerity.

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    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Monday he would explore deepening defence ties during a visit to Indonesia, a country that appears increasingly ready to assert its sovereignty in the contested South China Sea. Mattis, ahead of talks in Jakarta, raised the possibility of greater maritime cooperation. An aide noted that Indonesia was also considering purchasing Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-16 fighter jets, in a deal that could be worth billions.

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    Munitions and explosives manufacturer Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has secured a contract to supply advanced 155 mm Assegai projectiles to Australian private defence company NIOA. The A$100-million contract was secured in partnership with German defence company Rheinmetall Defence, Rheinmetall Nitrochemie and Junghans Microtec.

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    Airbus Commercial Aircraft President Fabrice Brégier is very optimistic about the state of the global airliner market and the prospects it offer the company. “The market is still very active; the growth is, in China … still more than 10% year-on-year – on [sic] such a big market, we are having 1 500 Airbus aircraft flying every day, in China,” he said in an interview on Airbus’ own Youtube channel, posted on January 15. “So the potential is there. It’s up to our competitiveness, our commercial aggressivity [sic] and also our industrial performance.”

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    Airbus Commercial Aircraft, the airliner manufacturing arm of European aerospace giant Airbus Group, has announced that last year it set a new company record for annual deliveries of aircraft. These totalled 718 aeroplanes to 85 customers and amounted to a 4% increase over the 688 delivered in 2016, which was the previous record year. Moreover, the company secured 1 109 net orders from 44 customers during 2017. By the end of the year, its total order backlog stood at 7 265 aircraft, worth $1.059-trillion at list prices. As a result, Airbus has a book-to-bill ratio of 1.5 (that is, the ratio of orders received to units delivered and invoiced – “billed” – over a specific period; a ratio of more than 1 shows that demand is strong).

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    The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans is jetting off to South Sudan on Monday to sign an agreement, her department said. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is expected to meet her counterpart, Lieutenant-General Kuol Manyang Juuk to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of defence between the governments of South Africa and South Sudan.

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    The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) says it has been "reliably informed" of an impending protest march in Pretoria on Tuesday by some members of its Reserve Force (RF) component. "The information at hand suggests that the protest march is aimed at addressing RF service conditions as well as the alleged corruption with the call-up of RF members," said a statement from the Department of Defence.

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    A group of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) reservists gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, airing their grievances which include jobs and the release of their colleagues. "There is a march that was requested by the reserve members of the South African National Defence Force. In terms of their [military police] authority and everything, they ended up arresting our fellow comrades in arms. Even now, they are detained without being charged," Lance Corporal Thabiso "Shots" Shotolo said speaking to African News Agency (ANA) in Pretoria.

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    The latest model in Europe-based aerospace group Airbus’ single-aisle airliner family, the A321LR, made its maiden flight from Hamburg in Germany on Wednesday. The aircraft is MSN7877 and is a long range version of the A321neo (new engine option), hence the suffix “LR”. It is powered by CFM International LEAP-1A new generation engines. Like all members of the A320 family, the A321LR contains wing and fuselage components and communications equipment manufactured in South Africa by local companies Aerosud and Cobham South Africa.

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    Germany's Thyssenkrupp will build a sales and production site to boost its aerospace business in Morocco, it said, adding it has already reached supply agreements with aircraft parts group Figeac Aero and ARM Group. The facility, to be opened in the summer, will be located close to Casablanca and offer material storage and processing services, Thyssenkrupp said in a statement on Thursday, declining to say how much it would invest in the site.

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    Brazilian aerospace group Embraer, the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial jets with up to 150 seats, has announced that flight tests have confirmed that its new E190-E2 airliner is the most efficient single-aisle airliner in the world. The E190-E2 is the first member of the group’s new generation E-Jet E2 family, which is a radically re-vamped development of the original E-Jet family. While the original E-Jet family numbered four, namely (from smallest to largest) the E170, E175, E190 and E195, the E2 family has three members: the E175-E2, the E190-E2 and the E195-E2.

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    State arms manufacturer Denel on Tuesday pleaded for an equity injection as it briefed MPs on its results for the past year, but former finance minister Pravin Gordhan flatly countered that the company's dire financials were linked to its dealings with the Gupta family believed to have corrupted key parastatals. Gordhan said these allegations had dented business confidence around Denel, and cash alone could not fix the problem.

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    The International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) is seeking to develop international interactions between young professionals working in both technical and non-technical areas of aviation research around the world. This initiative is described as “early career networking” and is a focus area for the Forum.

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    Africa is not alone in its unpreparedness for shifting into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, but it has the potential to gain the most out of such a development by finding new ways of manufacturing, says aerospace and defence company Paramount group executive chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz.

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    The recent order of further Airbus A380 airliners by Emirates Airlines has guaranteed that the Superjumbo will remain in production for at least another decade, an Airbus spokesperson assures “Engineering News”. On January 18 it was announced that Airbus and Emirates had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), worth $16-billion at list prices, under which the airline placed firm a order for 20 new A380s and took out options on 16 more, for a total of 36.

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    South African National Defence Force members serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have been accused of assault and torture, its spokesperson said on Sunday. "The SANDF has been alerted to reports of torture and assault in the Democratic Republic of Congo allegedly committed by some of its members deployed under the United Nations mission in that country," said SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi in a statement.

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    “People are concerned about noise, emissions, and safety. We are working to make aviation safer, greener and more comfortable for people,” highlighted Professor Sergey Chernyshev, General Director of Russia’s renowned Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (much better known in English by the transliteration of its Russian acronym, TsAGI). He was delivering one of the keynote addresses at the 2017 Conference of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa (AeSSA), hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). “I like the idea of seamless travel. We need to do something to make travel faster.” He pointed out that it takes about 11 hours to fly from the far west of Russia to the country’s far east, a fact that emphasises the importance of aviation to Russia.

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    The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has proven its role as a protector of the country’s constitutional order by allowing a peaceful handover of leadership in the ANC, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Kimberley on Sunday. "Our nation celebrates the change of leadership in the governing party without even having any appetite for senseless bloodshed because our defence force is led by wise men and women who abide by the ideal of the supremacy of our constitution and the rule of law," Ramaphosa said at an inter-faith prayer service organised by the SANDF.

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    Trade union Solidarity has asked Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to urgently suspend Denel's top officials to prevent hundreds of possible job losses. In the run-up to Denel’s board meeting on February 22, at which the group’s management would submit its proposed restructuring plan to the board, Solidarity had sent an urgent letter to Brown, Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke said on Sunday.

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    President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday lauded the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) during the Armed Forces Day parade in Kimberley in the Northern Cape, "for the peace we enjoy". "We dare not fail to appreciate how the peace we enjoy lives alongside the constant vigilance and readiness that enables you to keep us as safe as we are. You are opening incredible opportunities for young people in both the public and private sectors," said the president in his Armed Forces Day address.

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