South Africa is leading a network of developing countries, including Brazil and Turkey, aiming for a greater share of the multi-billion dollar missile industry dominated by Europe and the United States, a senior defence industry official says.
“In 10 years time I predict that a significant percentage of the missile business in the developing world will be kept among themselves, with many of them getting their sourced technology from South Africa,” said Jan Wessels, chief executive officer at South Africa’s state-owned missile and guided weapons manufacturer Denel Dynamics.
“We will see as a percentage of the missile market the developing countries share possibly doubling to 20 percent, and importantly they are no longer buying from traditional suppliers but keeping the business among themselves,” Wessels told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an African defence show.
Major European missile makers include MBDA, which is jointly owned by BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are among the major companies in the dominant US industry.
According to Wessels, South Africa was the only developing country in the world with the capability to design and develop precision-guided weapons able to compete with products from established superpowers such as the US and Russia. He cited the A-Darter air-to-air missile (pictured), a joint development with Brazil, as one example. Denel Dynamics also exports [sic] unmanned aerial vehicles with missile capacity, similar to the US Predator drones used in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Denel supplies around 500 completed missiles a year to customers worldwide, as well as providing components to major suppliers, Wessels said. He said while joint ventures with established suppliers would be considered to boost exports, the South African government and defence ministry identified its missile capability as a strategic asset.
Germany’s Rheinmetall AG holds a 49 percent stake in Denel’s separate munitions unit, while Turbomeca, part of French aerospace group Safran has a stake in Denel’s aircraft engine repair company.