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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South Africa's and Africa's armed forces play a key role in guaranteeing the conditions for development. So affirmed Department of Defence chief of defence policy, strategy and planning Dr Thobekile Gamede in Pretoria on Thursday. Closing the 2013 South African Joint Air Defence Symposium, on behalf of the Secretary of Defence, she also called for Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to commit funding to develop local defence systems.

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    South African armoured and mine protected vehicle company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) has unveiled the latest version of its RG35 6x6 armoured combat vehicle. This was done at the 2013 Defence and Security Equipment International (DESI) exhibition at the Excel Centre in London this week. This is one of the world’s most important defence shows.

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    South African defence company Denel Land Systems (DLS), part of the State-owned Denel group, publicly unveilled two new products at the 2013 Defence and Security Equipment International (DESI) exhibition at the Excel Centre in London recently. The new products are the M10 60 mm breech loading mortar and the GI-30 30 mm “CamGun” cannon. “We have chosen DSEI to launch these systems internationally because it is the world’s largest fully-integrated defence expo and attracts industry leaders, decision-makers and analysts from across the globe,” explained Denel group CEO Riaz Saloojee in a statement to the media.

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    South African company Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), part of the Swedish Saab aerospace and defence group, has been awarded two orders, worth $33-million (about R335-million) in total, by Indian State-owned aircraft company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to supply it with electronic warfare (EW) self-protection systems. These will be fitted to the HAL Dhruv advanced light helicopters being delivered to the Indian Air Force and Army. “Saab in South Africa fulfills an important mandate on the African continent and beyond by delivering an impressive range of South African electronic warfare technology,” affirmed Saab South Africa CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson. “Up to 90% of these systems are being designed and produced in Saab Grintek Defence facilities in South Africa – we are proud to deliver on this important contract.” The EW system concerned is Saab’s Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (Idas). This is already in widespread use on a significant variety of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. It provides rapid warning against hostile radar and laser systems and approaching missiles, and automatically activates the relevant countermeasures. It is designed to operate in threat environments that are dense, diverse and sophisticated.

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    The role of industry in the development and maintenance of air defence systems, and the need for governments to provide concrete support to local projects, were highlighted at the recent 2013 South African Joint Air Defence Symposium (Sajads) in Pretoria. The theme for this year's event was "Integrated Joint Air Defence within SADC [Southern African Development Community] and the Department of Trade and Industry's Action Plan to Enhance Indigenisation".

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    Should the South African Army (SA Army) chose to upgrade its anti-aircraft artillery, Swiss defence company Rheinmetall Air Defence (part of the German Rheinmetall group) has a proposal to include local content in such a project. Advances in technology mean that there is now a gap in the SA Army's air defence capability.

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    A ten-year multibillion-rand Armscor contract, which would see State-owned Denel produce over 200 armoured vehicles for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), was expected to “significantly and permanently” change the South African defence industry. The full-scale manufacture of the Badger New Generation Infantry Combat System would deliver direct and indirect jobs, while enabling enterprise development opportunities and increasing skills development and retention in the defence industry.

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    The first Airbus A400M military transport plane, to which South African firms Denel Aerostructures and Aerosud contribute components, was officially handed over to the French air force on Monday. The A400M is an all-new military airlifter designed to meet the needs of the world's armed forces in the twenty-first century. The aircraft’s advanced technologies allows it to fly higher, faster and further, while retaining high manoeuvrability, low speed and short, soft and rough airfield capabilities, Denel explained.

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    South Africa is a country with extensive maritime interests and responsibilities. The country has a coastline of about 3 924 km, including Prince Edward Island and Marion Island, which form a little group lying some 540 nautical miles (nm) or about 1 000 km south east of Port Elizabeth. The seas around South Africa are famously rough. All along this coast, and around the two islands, South Africa has territorial waters that extend 12 nm out to sea, contiguous zones that extend 24 nm, and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) that reach 200 nm out to sea. (These three categories overlap.)

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    After more than a decade of development, State-owned defence industrial group Denel’s Overberg Test Range (OTR) division passed a milestone as the implementation of the replacement of its tracking radar main system computer (TRMSC) was accepted, Denel OTR CEO Abrie van der Walt said on Tuesday. Denel OTR, an aircraft and missile test and evaluation complex, hosts an extensive array of optical, telemetry, radar, communication and meteorological instruments that cater for a spectrum of aircraft and missile flight-testing.

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    South African missile and unmanned air vehicle company Denel Dynamics has successfully extended the range of its Umkhonto surface-to-air missile to 20 km, while also testing a land-based launcher for the weapon for the first time. Hitherto, the Umkhonto has been only available as a naval system. The extended range was demonstrated during recent tests at the Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR) on the country’s south coast.

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    South African company Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), part of the Swedish Saab aerospace and defence group, has been awarded two orders, worth $33-million (about R335-million) in total, by Indian State-owned aircraft company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to supply it with integrated electronic warfare (EW) self-protection systems. These will be fitted to the HAL Dhruv advanced light helicopters being delivered to the Indian Air Force and Army.

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    Addressing the media on Thursday morning, South African Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant-General Fabian Zimpande Msimang highlighted the mutual importance of the relationship between his Service and the local aerospace and aviation industries. “Strategic partnerships are being forged with the aviation industry to share aviation technical skills between industry and the SAAF with the aim of growing the domestic aviation industry and to drive innovation,” he said. This relationship is embodied in the SAAF’s definition of air power. “Air power is the nation’s capacity to project through the medium of air or aerospace in the employment of all its aviation resources, civil and military, public and private, in support of air operations.” He noted that the SAAF’s “strategic partnership with the local aerospace industry is critical to ensure both own capability and a sustainable aviation industry”. Early this year, there was controversy around the SAAF’s ending of its Aero Manpower Group (AMG) contract with Denel Aviation, under which the State-owned company deployed aircraft maintenance personnel to SAAF bases. “The Auditor General found the AMG contract with Denel to be non-compliant with the current regulatory framework,” he explained.

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    DCD Protected Mobility on Wednesday announced that it was ready to deliver the final batch of Husky vehicle-mounted mine detector (VMMD) units to the US Army, after which its Husky VMMD build programme would transition from a production to a sustainment phase. The Husky VMMD landmine detection vehicle has the ability to pass over pressure-fused anti-vehicle landmines without detonating them and, in the event of a detonation, the components have been engineered in a unique modular configuration that allows them to break apart predictably, which facilitates rapid in-field repairs.

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    Many of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) countries have embarked on military modernisation programmes, making it one of the fastest growing regions in terms of defence spending in the world, State-owned Denel said on Monday, adding that Southeast Asia was one of its primary target markets. The local manufacturer would, therefore, expand its marketing efforts in the region with a strong presence at the Defence & Security Exhibition, in Thailand, from November 5 to 8.

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    State-owned defence company Denel on Tuesday said it intends to grow its yearly revenue to more than R7-billion in the next five years and create a long-term order book of more than five times its turnover.

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    Security and defence company Saab Grintek hopes to achieve its goal of supplying civil security products in sub-Saharan Africa. “We want to take advanced military technology and adapt it to civil society in Africa to make it a safer place,” Saab South Africa CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson tells Engineering News, adding that South Africa is one of Saab’s most important markets as electronic warfare technology from the country is making a huge mark in the international military arena with homegrown self-protection systems.

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    In a recent media briefing, South African Air Force (SAAF) Chief Lieutenant-General Fabian Zimpande Msimang highlighted the mutual importance of the relationship between his Service and the local aerospace and aviation industries. “Strategic partnerships are being forged with the aviation industry to share aviation technical skills between industry and the SAAF with the aim of growing the domestic aviation industry and to drive innovation,” he said.

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    The ever-increasing need for information generated from space requires several satellites to orbit the earth, which subsequently require more antennas worldwide to track and monitor their orbits and functions. This provides an opportunity for South Africa to invest in and develop space programmes and projects.

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    South African defence company Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) is set to become the German Rheinmetall group's second global hub for munitions manufacture and is already a major research and development (R&D) centre for the global company. RDM is 51%-owned by Rheinmetall and 49% by South Africa's State-owned Denel defence group. RDM's activities involve munitions from 40 mm to 155 mm in calibre, for guns, gun/howitzers and mortars, and related products.

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