SANDF hoping to replace Samils by 2030


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is hoping to replace its ageing Samil truck fleet with new vehicles by 2030, but the R13 billion project is in jeopardy due to a lack of funds.

In a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) late last year, Armscor gave an update on Project Phalama for the acquisition of new generation support vehicles to replace the Samil fleet.

Armscor had planned for production to take place from June 2025, with delivery by March 2030.

In its presentation, Armscor warned that the project “is at high risk due to obsolescence challenges on the current system,” and the fact that the project is currently not funded on the Strategic Capital Acquisition Master Plan (SCAMP). Armscor said it is “engaging the user to make funding available.”

In the meantime, Armscor is looking at the possibility of finding a replacement gearbox for all Samil vehicles. The state defence materiel agency added that if the Samil fleet is not replaced, “the capability of [the] SANDF in terms of this project will be at high risk.”

In December 2018, Armscor issued a request for information (RFI) for Project Phalama, which appears to have replaced Project Vistula, which called for the replacement of SAMIL 50/100 4×4/6×6 trucks. (Project Sepula, for the replacement of the Casspir and Mamba armoured personnel carrier fleets, also seems to have fallen by the wayside.)

The purpose of the RFI was to provide Armscor with a range of vehicle replacement options, with the RFI being very broad: options could include new vehicles or upgrades. A bidders’ conference was held towards the end of January 2019, which attracted a number of companies including Rheinmetall, Tatra and Tata Defence amongst others.

In January 2020, then Acting Chief of the SA Army, Major General ‘Mannetjies’ de Goede, told defenceWeb that Project Phalama was alive and well and still moving forward. “It’s very important for us and the country that that project goes on,” he said.

The SA Army currently relies heavily on ageing Samil trucks for logistics. These are being maintained by Cuban technicians and mechanics in terms of Project Thusano. Since the 2015 commencement of Project Thusano, in collaboration with the Cuban armed forces, around 6 000 vehicles have been repaired and refurbished.