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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    The entry into service of eight next generation Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft with South Africa’s private-sector Comair airline group will cut the airline’s fuel expenditure per seat by 15%. This was highlighted by Comair CEO Erik Venter at a press conference on Thursday. (This assumes that the fuel price remains similar to what it currently is; if the fuel price increases, the savings will be greater.) The first of the 737 MAX 8s will be delivered next year.

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    International collaboration is essential for a successful South African space programme. “The future of the South African space industry lies in international collaboration in satellite constellations,” affirms South African private-sector space enterprise SCS Aerospace Group Executive Chairman Sias Mostert.

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    Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday announced a completely new, high-powered, board to turn around beleaguered State-owned defence industrial group Denel. Technically, it is currently an interim board, he explained, because it had not yet been approved by the Cabinet. He described the appointment of the new board as part of the actions by the new administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa to restore State-owned Companies (SOCs).

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    Creamer Media's Chanel de Bruyn speaks to Engineering News Senior Deputy Editor Rebecca Campbell about the appointment of a new interim board of directors at State-owned Denel and how this might help turn things around at the embattled group.

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    Drones, otherwise known as remotely piloted aircraft systems, continue to gain footholds in an increasing number of industries, with adoption rates in safety and security industry growing worldwide. In fact, safety and security drone sales totalled $145-million in 2016, according to a market report compiled by ReportLinker and titled the ‘Safety & Security Drones Study’. Nevertheless, the safety and security market represents only a small segment of the greater drones industry. However, it is expected to see significant gains in the medium term, with sales expected to nearly double in 2019 as new technologies become available and awareness of the benefits of these systems increases.

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    The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced late last month that its Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (officially abbreviated to Dstl) had, in cooperation with the University of Sheffield, developed of a radical new method of producing titanium parts. Dstl has so far invested almost £30 000 in this research and development programme. Titanium combines high strength and corrosion resistance with low weight. It is as strong as steel but is only 50% of the weight of steel. But it is some ten times more expensive than steel and it is difficult and expensive to make titanium products.

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    The RMS St Helena, Britain's last working postal ship, was for nearly three decades the main source of contact between one of humanity's remotest islands and the outside world. Now the ship, cherished by the 4 500 residents of British-ruled St. Helena, will start a new life as a floating armoury, packed with automatic weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night vision goggles, all stored for maritime security operatives.

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    Trade union Solidarity on Thursday alleged in a report titled ‘Denel Dossier’ that State-owned aerospace and defence group Denel’s top management received increases of up to 60% in their salaries, as well as 100% performance bonuses last year, while there were insufficient funds to pay employees their full salaries in December. Solidarity further expressed concern that about 700 job opportunities may be jeopardised as a result of the financial problems at the beleaguered State-owned entity.

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    Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan recently announced the completely new, high-powered, Board to turn-around beleaguered State-owned defence industrial group Denel. Technically, it is currently an interim Board, he explained, because it had not yet been approved by the Cabinet. He described the appointment of the new Board as part of the actions by the new administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa to restore State-owned Companies (SOCs).

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    Engineers and researchers at the French South African Institute of Technology at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) are in an advanced stage of developing the institution’s second nanosatellite, designated ZACube-2. “CPUT has used CubeSat programmes to encourage students to train as engineers and even to remain at the institution after graduating,” explains CPUT Electrical Engineering Department Senior Engineer Nyameko Royi. “And we undertake outreach programmes to schools, at which CubeSats are featured.”

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    On April 7, Douma, in Syria, was subject to what appears to have been a chemical weapons attack. The Syrian Government has an independently-established (by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW) record of using chemical weapons in the current civil war, and against civilians. Following a Russian veto of a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that sought to establish an independent enquiry into what had happened at Douma, France, the UK and the US, early on April 14, jointly attacked targets identified as being of importance for Syria’s chemicals weapons programme.

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    South African defence company Paramount Group is in talks with the Saudi Arabia government to establish production facilities in the kingdom, its chairman said on Monday. Saudi Arabia, one of the world's largest arms buyers, is seeking international partners to develop its manufacturing capabilities with the aim of producing half of its required military equipment domestically by 2030.

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    Any sector has the potential to adapt drones to its purposes, owing to drones being versatile, relatively low cost and on an upward trajectory in terms of technological development, says United Drone Holdings CEO Sean Reitz. “Mines have adopted drones for aerial surveys, which is a cheaper, faster and safer alternative to using traditional methods. It is much quicker and employees are not put into unsafe environments,” he explains.

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    Ramping up production in the automotive sector, resuscitating the ailing tooling industry and boosting the clothing, textiles, leather and footwear industries are among successes the government has listed in its review of ten years of the Industrial Policy Action Plan (Ipap). Despite a challenging few years for manufacturing, the Ipap 2018 has outlined programmes that have done well, with the automotive sector leading the pack.  Other sectors it has supported have made inroads.

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  • 05/18/18--10:21: Denel Group CEO resigns
  • State-owned defence industrial group Denel announced on Tuesday that its Group CEO, Zwelakhe Ntshepe, had resigned. The resignation was also with effect from Tuesday. He had been appointed Group CEO only six months ago, following two years in which he had been acting in that capacity. Ntshepe had been with Denel for 20 years. He stated that his resignation was for personal reasons. Recently appointed Board Chairperson (Ms) Monhla Hlahla expressed the Board’s thanks to him for his contribution to Denel. “Ms Hlahla further wishes to assure employees, suppliers, customers and all stakeholders that the board is focused on a turnaround that will deal with the current liquidity and performance issues in the company,” stated the Denel press release. Denel Aeronautics CEO Michael Kgobe has been appointed acting Group CEO.

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    The Solidarity trade union on Tuesday welcomed the resignation of Denel Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe that same day. It also expressed its support for recently appointed board chairperson (Ms) Monhla Hlahla, complimenting her for the changes she has already made at the State-owned defence industrial group. “This resignation follows constant pressure by the trade union against Ntshepe and other corrupt management in Denel,” asserted Solidarity deputy general secretary Deon Reyneke. “Solidarity won’t hesitate to uncover other corrupt persons in management positions. Corrupt persons in Denel won’t be able to sleep peacefully at night any more.”

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    Despite a budget cut amounting to billions, the purchase of a VVIP presidential jet by the South African Defence Force is not off the table. In her speech in the debate about the South African Defence Force budget on Friday, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said:  "I must now report to the House that … the defence allocation has not improved." "The reduction translates to an R18-billion reduction over the MTEF (Medium Term Expenditure Framework)," she said. "This poses serious ...

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    A rescue plan for South Africa's state-owned arms manufacturer Denel needed to be sped up so it did not negatively affect the capability of the army, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Friday. Speaking after delivering her department's budget vote, Mapisa-Nqakula said the appointment of a new Denel board last month was welcomed, but that more needed to be done to ensure Denel could deliver to the the SA National Defence Force, which was Denel's biggest customer.

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    President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the composition of the Presidential State-owned Enterprise (SoE) Council, whose establishment has been approved by Cabinet, will be split between Ministers, as well as business people, experts and stakeholders. Speaking in Parliament during the debate on The Presidency’s Budget vote the President said the council would oversee interventions to strengthen governance, address immediate liquidity challenges, implement turnaround strategies, investigate allegations of corruption and take steps against those implicated.

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    Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has appointed Phakamani Hadebe as Eskom CEO. Hadebe has been acting CEO of the power utility since January.

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