SA defence industry at SA Army CTC ahead of Ex Vuk’uhlome

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Army Month in South Africa – November – is just over four months away with the landward force in full operational mode to ensure it’s a success.

This approach saw “captains of industry” – the phrase used by Lieutenant-Colonel Vuyiseka Pamla, Staff Officer 1, Corporate Communication – at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape to “strengthen relations” between the largest component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African defence industry (SADI). “The sole purpose of the engagement was to solicit synergy and partnership in discharging their support toward the successful execution of the exercise,” Pamla wrote.

Vuk’uhlome, first staged last year, was the first ever SA Army division level exercise since the SA National Defence Force was established in 1994, leading to a second iteration this November. Pamla reports Division Commander, Major-General Patrick Njabulo, told defence industry representatives the equipment it produces “should be provided for military personnel to test, evaluate and thereafter modify according to requirements and inputs given by the end users [in this instance, the SA Army]”.

Another army two-star, Major-General Leon Puckree, further emphasised the importance of SADI, pointing out a planned “distinguished visitors’ day” (22 November) as a marketing opportunity.

“The exercise will test the capability and status of readiness of the landward force, supported by the SA Air Force (SAAF), SA Military Health Services (SAMHS), Special Forces, Military Police and Legal Services divisions and the South African Police Service,” the communication officer reported.

“The event was a success because it provided a platform to deliberate with captains of industry on the means and ways they can contribute to the successful events by Exercise Vuk’uhlome 2023,” Pamla concluded.

Last year a sizeable defence industry contingent took part in Exercise Vuk’uhlome, with more than half a dozen companies exhibiting their wares. This included Reutech (radars and weapons turrets), Canvas and Tent (field accommodation), Rheinmetall Denel Munition (green energy), Global Command and Control Technologies (command and control solutions), Dinkwanyana Aerospace (unmanned aerial vehicles), OTT Solutions (armoured vehicles, including their Ratel Service Life Extension demonstrator) and Denel. The latter showcased its Badger and RG41 infantry fighting vehicles, RG21 and RG31 armoured personnel carriers and T5-52 self-propelled howitzer. SVI Engineering brought two of its armoured vehicles to the exhibition area (Max 3 and Max 9). The company also supplied Scorpion mortar vehicles to the SANDF, but these were not used in the exercise.