Parliamentary defence committee concerned about SANDF spares

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Funding, more specifically a lack of it, has again been cited as hobbling the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) particularly as far as its prime mission equipment (PME) is concerned.

Following an Armscor presentation last week, Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, co-chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD), said in a statement the committee is “concerned about the reactive system for procurement of spares” for PME.

The committee wants “pragmatic solutions” brought to bear to ensure defence “platforms are adequate for deployment” a Parliamentary Communication Service statement has it.

“While the committee acknowledges the funding shortfall within the SANDF that impacts directly on maintenance of equipment, the committee welcomes the intention by all role-players within the environment to hold a workshop that will streamline solutions to deal with the challenges of spares availability and general maintenance of PME. The committee will in April meet to receive these solutions, which the committee hopes will give a clear way forward,” Xaba said.

Going back to the Armscor presentation, the statement has it Armscor’s Defence Decision Support Institute is not performing analyses of maintenance requirements for selected SANDF PME.

“The committee is of the view that using specialists within this division would ensure that a proactive approach to systems management is adopted, which is a desirable approach in ensuring capability availability. It would also ensure that Armscor plays a critical and strategic decision support role for end users and ensure proactive planning and implementation. The committee is in agreement with Armscor that procurement of spares should be proactive and that effective planning should be encouraged.”

Using Denel as an example, the JSCD points to long lead times for procurement, citing financial challenges adding it “believes it is practical to do proactive spares procurement to eliminate funding challenges”.

“Continued challenges faced by Denel have a debilitating impact on the SANDF and ensuring its platforms operate optimally. Urgency is needed in resolving these challenges to enable Denel and by extension the national defence force to effectively deliver on its mandate,” Xaba said.

Challenges aside, the JSCD is hopeful solutions from the defence environment roleplayers engagement will bear fruit.

In its presentation to the committee last week, Armscor said some of its spares procurement challenges arise from the fact that some spares have long lead times and that if requirements are received late in the year, and operating budget funds are only available in the specific financial year, those spares that won’t be delivered within the financial year cannot be procured.

Further adding to delays is some spares have to be specifically manufactured or alternatives identified and qualified, which is time consuming. This is not helped by the fact that the majority of SANDF prime mission equipment is old and is suffering from increasing obsolescence.

Denel is the original manufacturer of a significant portion of SANDF prime mission equipment and sourcing of spares through Denel and re-engineering of obsolete spares is time consuming, Armscor stated.

The defence materiel agency suggested ways of improving spares availability, including proactive rather than reactive procurement; requirements for spares being provided early in the financial year; funding allocated to coincide with long lead time spares; and alternative suppliers to Denel being established.