It might be glacial but Denel is reporting progress on the much delayed Project Hoefyster that will eventually see the Badger replace the ageing Ratel as the SA Army’s prime fighting vehicle.
In a statement this week highlighting the involvement of a new generation of engineers in the project, Denel chief executive Danie du Toit is reported as saying “the development phase of the section variant of the vehicle is nearing completion”.
“A product base line will be established before the end of 2019 leading to the next stage of industrialisation and production,” the man who took over as chief executive of the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate in February said.
“In terms of the contract, Denel Landward is responsible for delivery of five infantry fighting variants and four support variants as well as ammunition, training simulators and an integrated logistic support system.”
The landward force of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is due to receive the first of 244 Badger fighting vehicles in 2022, a delivery date that understandably sticks in the craw of SA Army Chief Lieutenant General Lindile Yam. He recently told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans the Army cannot execute its mandate with the allocated resources. Yam was referring to prime mission equipment, including Badger, as well as human and other resources needed to keep the landward force operational.
Briefing MPs in Cape Town, Yam noted continued cutting of the defence budget could see a further decline in the already limited capabilities of the landward force with combat readiness “suffering severely”.
Production of Badger and its variants has been delayed by 32 months according to the latest Denel annual report. Delays are due to development issues with software, fire support manufacture, missile and mortar variant engineering development models, technical challenges and Denel’s financial situation, apparently largely due to state capture.
A number of forensic investigations into allegations of corruption and stare capture are underway against former Denel executives. Statements have gone to the SA Police Service and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) with the expectation of civil claims for damages to be instituted.