New leadership at Hensoldt Optronics


Deon Olivier has been appointed as the new Chief Executive at Hensoldt Optronics (Pty) Ltd, which has ambitious plans to grow its turnover and expand its portfolio.

Deon Olivier has 30 years’ experience in the high-tech aerospace sector and has been involved in design, programme management, technology management, business development and executive line management over the years.

Before becoming the Chief Executive at Hensoldt Optronics South Africa in July 2018, Olivier was the Chief Operations Officer at the company, a post he held since June 2017.

Olivier has a strong engineering background. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pretoria and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in 1989. He started his career as a missile development engineer at Kentron, later known as Denel Aerospace Systems and then Denel Dynamics.

In 2001, Olivier became the Head of Mechanical Engineering in Denel Dynamics and the Manager of the Air-to-Air Missile group in 2004. In this time he helped negotiate an international joint missile development programme contract. Deon was also Programme Manager on the missile development Programme up to 2010. Deon’s next responsibility was in Business Development, at first within Denel Dynamics, looking after its technology portfolio and later at Denel Head Office.

At the end of 2016 Olivier left Denel and joined AHRLAC as a Director of MWARI (the militarised version of the AHRLAC aircraft), before moving to Hensoldt Optronics.

Hensoldt Optronics designs and manufactures surveillance systems/airborne gimbals, periscopes, helmet trackers for fighter aircraft, laser designators and rangefinders and has its own optics manufacturing and coating facility.

Olivier joined Hensoldt Optronics South Africa (HOSA) at a time of change and opportunity, as Hensoldt in late 2018 announced it was consolidating its two South African subsidiaries GEW Technologies and Hensoldt Optronics under the Hensoldt brand, thus creating a single point of entry for its South African business.

“This is an important step towards future growth of the South African business, which will benefit from the power of the Hensoldt brand to open new market opportunities,” Hensoldt said. Hensoldt Optronics currently employs approximately 300 personnel.

“Uniting with our sister company GEW Technologies under the Hensoldt brand will help to strengthen our footprint in South Africa and also opens new business opportunities and markets for us,” Olivier said.

HOSA is a major supplier of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) as well as targeting gimbals to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and police and is also working with South African companies like Paramount and Denel, notably on the AHRLAC and Seeker respectively.

Apart from aerial platforms, Hensoldt has supplied the periscopes for the South African Navy’s three Type 209 submarines and supplies the commander’s and gunner’s sights for the South African Army’s new Badger infantry combat vehicle.

HOSA aims to grow its annual turnover from R750 million a year to R1 billion within a three year timeframe. Olivier said this will be supported with a move into the systems integration market and developing other new market areas by leveraging the company’s well-known electro-optical expertise. The company is also looking at merger and acquisition transactions to grow the business.