Hoefyster’s future in the hands of control board and steering committee

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Next in line for the seemingly never-ending saga that is the SA Army’s new infantry combat vehicle (ICV) to replace the ageing Ratel is a Department of Defence (DoD) project control board (PCB) which will, apparently, decide whether or not Project Hoefyster gets a red or green light.

This came to the fore in an Armscor presentation to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) last week.

Parliamentarians heard Project Hoefyster phase one – for the design and development of five variants – was “activated” more than 15 years ago in June 2007 with a contract value of just over a billion Rand (at 2006 Rand value) with delivery expected in May 2012. This was to be followed by phase two – industrialisation and production of 238 ICVs (Badgers) – with a completion date of November 2023 set.

That not much of this happened is common knowledge, with blame variously laid at the doors of mismanagement at Denel, the State-owned defence and technology conglomerate awarded the contract by Armscor, and what is called state capture in South Africa.

Examples of positive developments in the latest Armscor presentation are development of 33 Camguns and associated 30×173 ammunition, 60 mm long-range mortars, 15 Patria (the Finnish vehicle on which Badger is based) platforms, 64 training simulators as well as delivery of 137 Patria “goods packages”.

Armscor and Denel agree development of phase one common product systems (hull and turret items common to all variants) stands at 72.7%; while the lead Section variant is 83.9% complete; the Fire Support variant 83.09%; Command variant 72.6%; Mortar variant 44.5%; and Missile variant 53.61%.

The Armscor presentation has it the State-owned defence and security acquisition agency engaged with the Infantry Formation of the SA Army as the end-user of Badger on “relaxing” identified specifications. Other developments are a PCB and a project steering committee (PSC), asked for by Director: Army Acquisition. The PSC is a reality and all proposals from Armscor as regards project continuation are supported and recommended to the PCB.

No timelines are given in the presentation.