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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Ajay Gupta revealed top secret information regarding state-owned arms manufacturer Denel during a meeting at the family's Saxonwold compound, former African National Congress (ANC) parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor testified at the state capture commission of inquiry on Tuesday. This was a meeting that Mentor testified she was called to at the time when she headed Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises in 2010. 

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    State-owned defence industrial group Denel’s acting Group CEO Michael Kgobe assured the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on Wednesday that the new Denel Board was carrying out comprehensive actions against corruption and dubious transactions, as well as to reinforce governance and re-establish the group’s credibility and reputation. He pointed out that the new Board had, when it was appointed in April, been given a clear mandate to eliminate corruption, restore the group’s reputation and restore its profitability. He reported that the new turn-around plan for governance was now being implemented. This was intended to establish an ethical governance culture, recreate credibility with stakeholders and restore the group’s position as an industry leader and national asset. Already, Denel management had identified more then R315-million in irregular expenditures over the past two financial years. And R1.3-billion in other “irregularities” were being examined. He stated that a panel of forensic investigators would soon be appointed by the Board to investigate irregular procurements. Irregular appointments of staff and partner businesses were also being looked into.

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    Britain and Nigeria have signed a security and defence agreement during a one-day visit by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday as Africa’s most populous country struggles to defeat Boko Haram extremists and others linked to the Islamic State organisation.  The British prime minister is on a three-country Africa visit with a large business delegation as Britain seeks to boost economic ties ahead of a bumpy exit from the European Union in March.

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    The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Aeronautics Systems Competency has created an innovation team to address both emerging opportunities and problems in the global aerospace environment. (“Innovation team” is a description, not a title.) This amounts to the creation of a new portfolio with the competence area, which combines aeronautics, aerodynamics, computer modelling and simulation, design, systems engineering, systems development and integration. (CSIR Aeronautics Systems has three key business areas: aeronautics test and evaluation; aeronautics systems development, integration and innovation; and providing sound aeronautics technical support to industry, government and the Department of Defence, including the South African National Defence Force.)

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    The Aeronautical Society of South Africa’s (AeSSA’s) yearly conference will take place at Hoogeind Manor, in Somerset West, on October 24 to 25 and is themed Aerospace for All. The theme captures the increasing relevance of aeronautics and space to achieve outputs for economic and societal benefits now and into the future, says AeSSA president Marié Botha.

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    State-owned defence industrial group Denel has welcomed the report by the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) on the Denel Land Systems (DLS) division’s employment equity compliance status on the flagship Hoefyster project. The Hoefyster employment equity compliance assessment report was commissioned by the previous management of DLS and is, therefore, of interest to the current management team.

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    Iran plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted a senior Defence Ministry official as saying on Saturday. News of the military development plans came a day after Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, following the US pullout from Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.

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    At least eight people were killed in an explosion at a South African munitions depot in Somerset West, near Cape Town, but the cause of the incident was still unknown, a fire and rescue official said on Monday. The blast occurred at Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) depot, a joint venture between Germany's Rheinmetall Defence and South Africa's state-owned arms maker Denel.

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    Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has confirmed that the fatal explosion which rocked its Somerset West plant, in the Western Cape, on Monday took place in the propellant operations building. “During operations an explosion occurred and destroyed the entire building and the immediate surrounding blast walls,” stated the company in a press release. As of Tuesday morning, the company was still unable to confirm the number of lives lost. Media reports, citing fire and rescue sources, reported at least eight fatalities. The company has assured Cape Town authorities that the plume of smoke which followed the explosion posed no threat to the public. “All necessary precautions are being taken,” it assured. The investigation into the event was restarted Tuesday morning.

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    Two South African peacekeepers were wounded in a rebel ambush near the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, their United Nations (UN) mission said on Tuesday. The attack on Monday on the outskirts of the city of Beni underscored the challenges authorities face in tackling a flare-up of the deadly disease in an active conflict zone stalked by dozens of armed groups.

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    A community meeting where Rheinmetall Denel Munition officials were expected to answer questions from Macassar residents about what happened at their depot on Monday fell flat when those expected to attend cancelled at the last minute due to "fears for their safety". Residents on Tuesday night expressed their anger after making their way to the Macassar New Civic Hall in cold weather, hoping for details on the blast that claimed eight lives. Ward councillor Victor Isaacs told the assembled ...

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    In just eight days during late August and early September, Airbus’ Perlan 2 glider set three new world altitude records for a glider. Moreover, during the third of these flights, it reached an altitude that has been exceeded in level flight by only two other types of aircraft. These flights were all executed as part of the Europe-based global aerospace group’s Perlan Mission II programme and resulted in the acquisition of key information on flight performance, weather and the atmosphere. On August 26, flown by Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock, the Perlan 2 reached an altitude of 63 100 feet (almost 19 233 m). On August 28, flown by Payne and Miguel Iturmendi, it achieved 65 600 ft (almost 19 995 m), and on September 2, piloted by Payne and Tim Gardner, it flew to 76 124 ft (nearly 23 203 m). Only the famed Lockheed Martin SR-71 high altitude high-speed reconnaissance aircraft, and the almost as famous Mikoyan MiG-25R reconnaissance version of the MiG-25 interceptor, routinely flew at higher altitudes. And both were powered aircraft. (The renowned North American X-15 rocket plane was really a spacecraft, not an aircraft.)

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    Emergency agencies and government authorities are working with Rheinmetall Denel Munition to identify the cause of a deadly blast that claimed the lives of eight people, the company said on Wednesday. The blast on Monday occurred at Rheinmetall Denel's depot in Somerset West, near Cape Town.

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    The South African Air Force (SAAF) Museum project to rebuild, into flying condition, one of only two Supermarine Spitfires in South Africa has reached a critical point, requiring significant investment to be able to effectively proceed. The Spitfire is a Mark IXe, built in May 1945 and delivered to the SAAF in 1947. It was retired from service in April 1954. It was then preserved in a non-flying condition until it was rendered airworthy again in a restoration process that finished in 1995. Sadly, it was written off in a non-fatal accident in 2000. The wrecked aircraft was stored by the SAAF Museum at its main facility, at Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop in Centurion, just south of Pretoria. The proposal to restore it again was authorised by the SAAF Museum Council in 2015.

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    Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita named new defence, mines and foreign ministers on Sunday as he began his second five-year term presiding over a country ravaged by jihadist and inter-ethnic violence. Keita was sworn in last week after winning a landslide re-election despite escalating attacks by Islamist militants and clashes between herders and pastoralists that have killed hundreds of civilians this year.

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    The Western Cape wing of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) wants a full inquiry into the blast last week that killed eight people at Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM). "[Numsa] in the Western Cape will be writing to the Department of Labour to be part of the formal inquiry into the blast which took place at Rheinmetall Denel Munition in the Western Cape last week," said a statement from regional secretary general, Vuyo Lufele. "We are concerned that a company which is partly owned ...

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    The results of a forensic identification into the deadly explosion at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) munitions factory in Cape Town nine days ago will be released later this week. The management of RDM hosted a lunch on Wednesday for the families affected by the explosion which claimed the lives of eight employees on September 3.

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    In just eight days during late August and early September, Airbus’ Perlan 2 glider set three new world altitude records for a glider. Moreover, during the third of these flights, it reached an altitude that has been exceeded in level flight by only two other types of aircraft. These flights were all executed as part of the Europe-based global aerospace group’s Perlan Mission II programme and resulted in the acquisition of key information on flight performance, weather and the atmosphere.

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    Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Monday had a meeting with her Congo-Brazzaville counterpart, Charles Richard Mondjo, who is in Pretoria ahead of the 2018 edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence [AAD] exhibition which kicks off later this week. "This reciprocal visit, that was agreed upon during my visit in March 2017, takes place two days before the AAD exhibition. This will give you an opportunity to visit various defence companies that will be exhibiting," Mapisa-Nqakula addressed Mondjo during a meeting attended by service chiefs.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel announced on Monday the successful completion of the guided missile qualification test series for the A-Darter infrared (IR) homing short range air-to-air missile system. The A-Darter is a fifth generation missile that uses an imaging IR seeker system. The weapon was conceived in South Africa and jointly developed by South Africa and Brazil, with the programme being led by Denel Dynamics, Denel’s missile, unmanned air vehicle and space technology operation. It will be employed by both the South African Air Force and the Brazilian Air Force. The qualification test series involved four guided launches, all against Skua high-speed target drones (another Denel Dynamics product). Each launch demonstrated a different air combat manoeuvre scenario. As a result, the A-Darter’s full performance was successfully demonstrated. The entire test series was conducted at Denel’s Overberg Test Range, on the south coast in the Western Cape province.

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