Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Lindile Yam, has expressed dissatisfaction with the delays by Denel Land Systems in delivering Badger infantry fighting vehicles to the Army under Project Hoefyster.
At a media briefing in Pretoria last week, Yam said there were “extreme further delays” with the Hoefyster programme. “As Chief of the Army and the Command Council we are very unhappy with delays that have gone with Hoefyster.”
He said that after a seven and a half year delay, “there will be no delivery of the Badger – not in the near future.” Yam expects minimal delivery at some stage, with intention to complete phase one of the programme.
After several delays, the SA Army was due to receive the first of 244 Badger vehicles in 2022, not early 2019 as earlier expected. Badger delays have been caused by development issues with software, delays in manufacture of the fire support, missile and mortar variant engineering development models, technical challenges, and the dire financial situation of Denel.
“This one is completely unacceptable in the way it has happened. The landward [force] is completely irrelevant right now because of non-delivery of Hoefyster,” Yam said. “We don’t know what to say anymore…Delaying that is delaying South Africa’s constitutional mandate. It’s not something we should be discussing without consequences. It’s not justifiable by any means.”
Yam expressed concern that the Badger is now unaffordable due to the poor exchange rate making it increasingly expensive to produce the vehicle. However, the Army Command Council has decided to complete phase one of the Hoefyster programme, implying that the Army cannot start afresh and look for a new vehicle.
The Chief of the Army said he would like to support Denel as it will improve the military’s landward capability but also improve the knowledge economy and increase skills. However, Yam said that Denel’s problems meant other projects have been affected. “Some projects have been delivered on; some we have had to close down because money just got taken away by Treasury. It’s becoming chaos.”
Yam noted that the Army is proceeding with Project Palama, which is looking at a replacement for its SAMIL logistics vehicles. In December 2018 Armscor issued a request for information (RFI) for the vehicle replacement project, and by mid-2019 was evaluating responses.