Artillery, helicopters, submarines and frigates affected by SANDF maintenance backlog

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Another pointer to the sorry state of prime mission equipment (PME) in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) comes via a Parliamentary question posed by Gauteng Member of Parliament representing the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters), Washington Mafanya.

He asked Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise for details of the maintenance backlog on “key” SANDF equipment.

The Minister went into some detail in her response, dated October – well before an Armscor presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) in mid-February that revealed further details on SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA Navy (SAN) equipment serviceability. Her reply reinforced what the oversight committee was told by the government-owned defence and security acquisition agency.

Modise spoke to the three combat arms of the national defence force – air force, army and navy – pointing out maintenance was done in accordance with allocated budget per capability area. Additionally, maintenance contracts were “on demand” as and when there is a need.

For the landward force there was, at the time of response, a maintenance backlog on, among others, G5 and G6 artillery and Samil trucks. All are the result of non-performance by the State-owned defence and technology group, Denel. She told her questioner “in lieu” of Denel not able to procure spares, Armscor is paying selected suppliers to deliver parts.

In the SA Air Force (SAAF) there are maintenance backlogs on Gripen, Hawk, Oryx and Falcon aircraft. The backlog was put down to expiry of maintenance contracts, all again in place according to Modise.

At the SA Navy (SAN) the major components of its blue water capability – the Valour Class frigates and Heroine Class Type 209 submarines – are maintained “in accordance with budget”. This week the PCDMV heard none of the four frigates was fully seaworthy with SAS Mendi (F148) prioritised for the just completed Armed Forces Day (AFD) and tri-nation Exercise Mosi II.

“There is a delay in availability of SAS Drakensberg (A301) as a result of unavailability of spares and non-performance by the appointed contractor,” with mitigating steps taken.