Denel dragging the SAAF down

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The sorry state of affairs at Denel is impacting on the ability of the SA Air Force (SAAF) to meet ordered commitments resulting in, to date, a request for “guidance” as regards air force financial authority approving payments to Denel Aeronautics as “aircraft systems are unavailable”.

The request from Major General Setete Malakoane, Chief Director: Force Development And Support, is in the form of a letter to acting SAAF Chief, Lieutenant General Mzayifani Buthelezi, for the service’s budget control committee (BCC). defenceWeb has seen the letter.

Concern is expressed about the ability of the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate to meet its contractual commitments to the air force as far as product support and maintenance is concerned. The letter makes specific mention of the C-130BZ, Oryx and Rooivalk systems stating the support these platforms provide for operations “increased drastically”.

The sad status of Denel, facing attachment of assets amid its ongoing inability to meet salary and other financial commitments to employees, is not confined only to airborne assets.

There are doubts about Denel PMP continuing to supply “some aircraft cartridges and small to medium calibre ammunition” with a knock-on effect on SAAF combat readiness.

Denel’s inability to pay sub-contractors impacts “negatively” on support for SAMIL/SAMAG vehicles, leading to non-availability of operational vehicles.

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) status for SAAF Oryx and Rooivalk helicopter systems is vested in Denel. The SAAF BCC points out: “Denel has outsourced services to sub-contractors to support systems. Denel’s current financial situation has created a loss of capabilities. This has impacted operation of the SAAF and led to most of the aircraft systems being unavailable”.

The “inadequate supply of spares is a huge drive factor for unserviceability” with an adverse effect on deep-level maintenance for “main propulsion components”.

CAF is asked to put his mind to ground support equipment for SAAF assets as well. The letter has it these are unserviceable due to lack of maintenance and no spares from Denel.

The SAAF jet component – Gripen and Hawk – also face uncertain futures. This, according to the BCC letter, is due to Denel’s inability to provide a service for calibration and maintenance of Gripen and Hawk test benches which will “impact negatively on aircraft serviceability”.

Denel, the SAAF says, cannot provide “quality support” to the long-serving C130BZs of 28 Squadron.

The letter went to Buthelezi earlier this week in the wake of three April BCC meetings. Acting CAF and his permanent successor, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, are asked for guidelines on financial authority approvals related to Denel Aeronautics.