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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    South Africa-based defence solutions business Paramount Group’s acquisition of South Africa-based naval vessel solutions company Nautic Africa in November not only enables Paramount to enter the naval defence market but also provides Africa with naval defence competency. Paramount Group executive chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz explains that Nautic Africa primarily operated in the civilian sector. “However, the acquisition has resulted in it being augmented to produce military naval vessels, which will be primarily designed to counter piracy and protect Africa’s marine assets.”

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    A statistical report, published by the Department of Environmental Affairs on January 30, states that 86 rhino have been killed by poachers in South Africa to date this year, bringing the total number of rhino killed since 2008, to 2 827. Last year, 1 004 rhino were killed, a 150% increase on the 668 killed in 2012.

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    South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel currently has contracts valued at about R30-billion, which will run over the next seven to ten years, landwards-based defence company Denel Land Systems (DLS) CEO Stephan Burger tells Engineering News. He notes that DLS secured two significant contracts from the Malaysian defence force, to supply 177 modular turrets and 216 laser-guided missiles, collectively worth €341-million, and a contract from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to supply 238 Badger armoured vehicles, adding that this is the first time Denel has executed two contracts of such significance simultaneously.

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    Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between South African and Malaysian companies at the Malaysian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday. These MoUs are part of the indirect offsets programme South Africa is providing in return for Malaysia’s order for armoured vehicle turrets from Denel Land Systems (DLS). The three MoUs advance a programme of about eight offset projects that have been identified. An MoU for one of these has already been signed and about five more MoUs are expected. It is hoped that, altogether, these projects will, in due course, create business opportunities worth as much as R3-billion. “The objective of the [offset] programme is to foster strategic international partnerships,” explained Malaysia’s Technology Depository Agency (TDA) Director Zailani Safari. “We have to look at it as a platform for local industry development.” Regarding defence contracts, the TDA, which falls under the Prime Minister’s office, is responsible for handling indirect offsets. Direct offsets (which are directly connected to the weapons system being acquired) are the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence.

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    South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has highlighted the poor state of much of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) infrastructure. Addressing senior officers and the media on Thursday, she affirmed that it “is important that we pay urgent attention to this issue”. “[O]ver the past 20 years we have not paid enough attention to the servicing and improving the state of our facilities,” she said. “The general state of our hospitals, barracks and all our bases leave a lot to be desired. The recent establishment of the Defence Works Formation is a development that should assist us in that regard, but there are too many issues that need to be addressed if this unit is to function effectively.” One issue is funding and it was necessary to consider options for funding SANDF infrastructure improvements, she noted. “I have however expressed my disappointment that while we decry the underfunding of the Defence Force, we continue to see huge areas of underspending and wastage of resources.”

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    The seasonally adjusted Kagiso Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased by 1.8 index points to 51.7 in February, helped by a rebound in the new sales orders index. The new sales orders index increased by 3.2 index points to 53.4, owing to improved global demand as the eurozone’s manufacturing sector continued to perform strongly, Kagiso Asset Management research head Abdul Davids said.

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    There can be little doubt that the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) sector is one of the most dynamic in today’s global aerospace industry. Over the past decade, a growing number of countries and companies have seen UAVs as a means to break into the aerospace sector and international markets. In parallel, an almost bewildering variety of UAVs have been developed and a very wide range have been operationally deployed. Some 25 years ago South Africa was one of the leaders in the global UAV sector. However, there then followed two decades of limited investment, which allowed the country to keep the expertise it had acquired but hampered the development of new systems. But now the local industry is staging a comeback.

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    Three Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between South African and Malaysian companies at the Malaysian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday. These MoUs are part of the indirect offsets programme South Africa is providing in return for Malaysia’s order for armoured vehicle turrets from Denel Land Systems (DLS). The three MoUs advance a programme of about eight offset projects that have been identified. An MoU for one of these has already been signed and about five more MoUs are expected. It is hoped that, altogether, these projects will, in due course, create business opportunities worth as much as R3-billion.

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    There can be little doubt that the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) sector is one of the most dynamic in today’s global aerospace industry. Over the last decade, a growing number of countries and companies have seen UAVs as a means to break into the aerospace sector and international markets. In parallel, an almost bewildering variety of UAVs have been developed and a wide range have been operationally deployed. Some 25 years ago, South Africa was one of the leaders in the global UAV sector. However, there then followed two decades of limited investment, which allowed the country to keep the expertise it had acquired but hampered the development of new systems. But now the local industry is staging a comeback.

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    South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has highlighted the poor state of much of the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) infrastructure. Addressing senior officers and the media at the end of last month, she affirmed that it “is important that we pay urgent attention to this issue”.

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    The South African Navy (SAN) has confirmed that South African defence procurement (and disposals and research and development) agency Armscor has been granted the authority to start the acquisition process for three new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and three new inshore patrol vessels (IPVs). This programme is codenamed Project Biro. At the end of last month, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the SAN had received permission to go ahead with the project, but the respected journal did not know how many vessels would be bought. “The Project Study Report for Project Biro was approved on February 14,” SAN spokesperson Captain Zamo Sithole informed Engineering News Online on Thursday, via email. “This provides the authority for Armscor to go out to industry on a Request for Offer (RFO) – i.e. open tender. ... [T]he intention is still to acquire three OPVs and three IPVs under Project Biro.” “All attempts are being made to promulgate the RFO before the middle of the year,” he noted. “The intention is to build and support all vessels acquired by the project in South Africa.” It is widely expected that the RFO will attract considerable interest from a large number of companies from around the world.

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    South Africa's cash-strapped armed forces are in a "critical state of decline" that will take at least a decade to fix even with urgent action, according to a military strategy review seen by Reuters. It said "neglect" of defence capability could impact everything from border security to trade and constrain Pretoria's continental peace-keeping and diplomatic ambitions.

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    Major German defence group Rheinmetall AG has announced that it has won a contract to modernise the South African Army’s (SA Army’s) air defence artillery systems. The value of the contract has not been revealed. The SA Army currently operates twin 35 mm air defence guns acquired from Rheinmetall ancestor company Oerlikon. Reportedly, the army acquired 169 of these guns, along with 75 Superfledermaus fire control units (FCUs) in 1963. In 1990, 48 of these Mark (Mk) I guns were upgraded to Mk V status and the Superfledermaus FCUs replaced by Italian LPD20 radars. The modernisation contract, “signed several days ago,” in the words of the company announcement, includes the provision of Skyshield FCUs and the refitting of a number of the existing twin 35 mm guns so that they will be able to use Rheinmetall’s latest generation Ahead ammunition, giving them Mk VII status.

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    The South African Navy (SAN) has confirmed that South African defence procurement (and disposals and research and development) agency Armscor has been granted the authority to start the acquisition process for three new offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and three new inshore patrol vessels (IPVs). This programme is codenamed Project Biro.

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    British warship, HMS Portland, has docked in Cape Town after three months in West African waters patrolling the coastline for piracy, illegal fishing and drug smuggling. The ship docked in Cape Town harbour before heading to Simon’s Town, where the ship’s company exercises with the South African Navy twice a year and undertake maintenance.

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    Major German defence group Rheinmetall AG has announced that it has won a contract to modernise the South African Army’s (SA Army’s) air defence artillery systems. The value of the contract has not been revealed. Rheinmetall AG, through its Rheinmetall Waffe Munition subsidiary, owns 51% of South African company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM).

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    South Africa's Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Rusty Higgs, reaffirmed on Friday the importance of Project Biro for the South African Navy (SAN) and for the country. Project Biro covers the acquisition of three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) and three Inshore Patrol Vessels. The first of these ships should be delivered in 2018. Defence acquisition agency Armscor has been authorised to release Requests for Offer for these ships and it is hoped that this will be done by the middle of this year. The SAN hopes that it will possible to build them in South Africa.

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    South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has agreed to set up a joint Centre of Excellence (CoE) for radar and sensor technology with the National Defence University of Malaysia (NDUM). The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) covering this was signed by the two institutions on Wednesday. Under the terms of the MoA the CSIR and NDUM will cooperate in research and development (R&D) for ten years. The new CoE will be situated in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. “The CSIR has a long track record in radar and optronic sensors and electronic warfare and looks forward to collaborating on a sustainable number of academic and joint research and development programmes,” observed CSIR Defence, Peace, Safety and Security interim executive director Laurens Cloete. “Ultimately, the objective of our collaboration with NDUM is to contribute to the development of Malaysia’s high-technology defence capabilities through skills and research facilities development, new intellectual property and the commercialisation of high potential technologies.”

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    A key area of interest and concern in the South African Defence Review 2012 is “defence intellectual property”. The review recognises that a “vibrant defence industry remains a critical component of an effective South African defence capability”. Research, development, engineering and manufacturing components, products and systems for defence generates intellectual property. These activities are often funded by the Department of Defence (DoD).

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    The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology development in the country.

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