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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    Commitments made over the past 16 years, following the 1998 Defence Review, has resulted in a mismatch between what was expected from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the resources allocated to it, causing a decline in most aspects of the force’s work, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday. Addressing the media, in Pretoria, she said this “mismatch” had been one of the key findings of the 2014 Defence Review, which was approved by Cabinet last month, adding that this review stated that “the defence budget must meet the financial requirements that arise from the roles and mission sets assigned by government to the defence force”.

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    The Slovak-made Strazan water purification tanker truck can purify 50 ℓ of water a minute to provide clean drinking water using any source of water during droughts, emergencies or military operations, says local distributor Zero7Health CEO Tatiana Lhotsky. The versatile 6 x 6 truck is able to access remote locations and cross rough terrain to supply purified water using membrane filtration without requiring any chemical dosing. The tanker can carry 8 000 ℓ of water and can also be used to fight fires, says Zero7Health executive director Thoba Karl-Halla.

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    Local antenna manufacturer Poynting Holdings reports high growth of its defence equipment order book, offset by losses in other divisions, and notes that about 68% of its earnings stem from exporting equipment mainly to developed markets, says Poynting CEO Dr André Fourie. Poynting’s interim results in March show that revenue increased by 27.4% to R53.5-million, earnings a share increased 68.4% to 4.11c and profit increased by 68.7% to R3.78-million.

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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 covering this was signed by the two institutions on April 16. Under the terms of the MoA the CSIR and NDUM will cooperate in research and development (R&D) for ten years. Research will also be conducted in the areas of electronic warfare (EW) and network centric warfare. The new CoE will be situated in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

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    South Africa's Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Rusty Higgs, recently reaffirmed 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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    The visit to South Africa by Brazilian Defence Minister Celso Amorim in March has further stimulated defence ties between the two countries. He held official discussions with South African Defence and Military Veterans Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as well as having a private conversation with her, for about an hour.

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    Barely had the announcement been made that Nigeria had leapfrogged over South Africa to become, by a substantial margin, the biggest economy in Africa, than the West African country was subjected to the great humiliation and embarrassment of having between 200 and 300 schoolgirls abducted (enslaved?) from a boarding school in Chibok, in Borno State, by the terrorist group Boko Haram on April 14. Although about 53 managed to escape, 200 or more remain captive.

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    South African armoured and mine-protected vehicle manufacturer BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) is to display the latest model of its RG35 armoured combat vehicle family at the Eurosatory defence exhibition in Paris later this month (June 16 to 20). The new version is the RG35 MIV (Motorised Infantry Vehicle). This is a 4x4 vehicle and complements the existing 6x6 RG35 IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and the 4x4 RG35 RPU (Recce Patrol Utility) models.

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    Some parts for the Swedish Air Force’s next fighter, the Saab Gripen E, will be manufactured in South Africa. The Gripen E is a significant redevelopment of the existing Gripen fighter family. “We will be making parts for the Swedish Air Force Gripen Es in South Africa,” reveals Saab South Africa President and CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson. “I can’t say what parts yet. It’s good news for South Africa. It’ll protect jobs for a long time to come.”

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    Airbus made the right decision in retaining South African companies in the supply chain for the A400M military airlift aircraft, Airbus Defence and Space Executive VP: Military Aircraft Domingo Urena told South African journalists at a dinner near Seville on Monday night. "I think it was the right decision to keep industrial capacity in South Africa," he said. Important components and parts for the A400M are manufactured by South African companies Aerosud and Denel Aerostructures. "The two companies a partners," he observed. "Hopefully, we'll get South Africa back [as a customer]."

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    While the international armoured and mine-protected vehicle market remains in a downturn, local company BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) expects this to come to an end over the next 18 to 24 months and be followed by an upturn. “We are seeing new vehicle projects emerging,” reports company business development and communications director Natasha Pheiffer. “We already expected an uptick in 2016 and we’re now seeing an increase in Requests for Information and informal communications, so that looks likely to happen.”

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    Should South Africa select the Saab 340 MSA twin turboprop maritime surveillance aircraft to re-equip the South African Air Force (SAAF), the company could have a baseline-configuration aeroplane in South Africa within six months of contract signature. So assures Saab South Africa President and CEO Magnus Lewis-Olsson.

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    Munitions manufacturer Denel Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) plans to dramatically increase its ammunition production capacity in a bid to double its yearly turnover to more than R1-billion in the next five years. Responding to “strategic requirements” in the local market, Denel PMP CEO Phaladi Petje said on Tuesday that the company would embark on a plant renewal programme to modernise its machinery and munitions production processes. “We will also increase our research and development capacity. PMP is set to become the ammunition solution partner of choice in South Africa, across the continent and in all of the markets we are targeting,” he commented. The announcement followed the release of government’s Defence Review in Parliament earlier this year, which highlighted the need for self-sufficiency in the provision of ammunition, not only to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), but also to the country’s security cluster as a whole.

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    German defence group Rheinmetall is set to sign a €2.7-billion ($3.7-billion) deal in the coming weeks for the production of 980 Fuchs 2 military vehicles for Algeria, newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Wednesday, without citing sources. Germany said this month it would adopt a more cautious approach towards arms exports after a 24% surge last year fuelled a domestic debate on military sales.

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    Serial local manufacturing of State-owned defence group Denel Land Systems’ (DLS’) Badger infantry combat vehicle was expected to start within the next 24 months, with operational testing and evaluation progressing as planned, DLS CEO Stephan Burger said on Thursday. In late 2013, Armscor placed a multibillion-rand order for 238 of the vehicles for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

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    South African defence company BAe Systems Land Systems South Africa (LSSA), which is composed of three divisions – OMC, Dynamics and Gear Ratio – is actively promoting its products and capabilities across a wide range of international markets. Each of the three divisions is a specialist in its own field, but all complement each other. OMC designs, develops and manufactures armoured and mine-protected vehicles, Dynamics does the same for turrets, remotely-operated weapons stations and related products (such as control and sighting systems) while Gear Ratio does likewise for drive-trains (including axles, transaxles, power shift transmissions, torque converters, traction gears, transfer gearboxes and wheel stations).

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    The missile business of South African missile, unmanned air vehicle and space company Denel Dynamics, part of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group, is focusing a lot of its attention and investment on to the development of radar seekers and new rocket motors. These developments are the essential prerequisites to the development of longer-ranged air defence missiles. The company currently has two longer-ranged missile projects. These are the Umkhonto-LR medium-ranged naval surface-to-air missile (SAM) and the Marlin beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

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    South African high-technology company Denel Dynamics must meet the challenges and seize the opportunities facing it not only for the sake of the company itself but for the sake of the country as a whole. So asserted company CEO Tsepo Monaheng on Friday, addressing staff and guests at the conclusion of the 2014 Denel Dynamics Show and Tell event. Denel Dynamics specialises in missiles and other guided weapons, unmanned air vehicles and space technology. It is part of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel is hoping to enter the railway manufacturing sector, following the launching of multi-billion rand programmes to modernise the country’s national railway network. These include the acquisition of new locomotives and both passenger and freight rolling stock and the upgrading of railway infrastructure. “We have a local company with a strong history of success in the delivery of the most sophisticated engineering and technology projects,” affirmed Denel group CEO Riaz Saloojee. “It just makes sense for the rail industry to tap into the knowledge and systems that are already available locally and have helped to build the country’s much-admired defence sector.” The group sees the railway modernisation programme as an opportunity to expand its business, make it more profitable and create more skilled jobs while also contributing to the revitalisation of the country’s strategic infrastructure. It would also support the government’s desire that State-owned companies share their knowledge and expertise. To this end, Denel is currently negotiating with the State-owned railway operators Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) as well as with the consortium executing the 20-year railway refurbishment programme.

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    It is hardly possible to overstate the crisis in the South African Department of Defence (DoD) which, in its current configuration, is risking the lives of the country’s soldiers as well as South Africa’s reputation, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) executive director Jakkie Cilliers said on Thursday.

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