Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation pushes sales to Africa

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Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation (MIC) wants to expand its exports to other African countries and is stepping up its presence at African defence shows.

In September the company exhibited at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) trade show in Pretoria. On display were a model of MIC’s multiple rocket launch system, guided bombs, assault and sniper rifles, as well as its rocket propelled grenade launchers. At AAD in 2018, the company had a larger stand and flew its domestically made SAFAT 02 light helicopter and SAFAT 03 two seat trainer in the air show.

Political changes in Sudan since the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years until 2019, has brought increasing pressure on the defence sector to become more transparent. Much of the opposition views the reform of the country’s defence industries as central to reducing the role of the military. But the 25 October 2021 coup in which a military junta led by General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan overthrew a civilian led government appears to have set back moves to reform these industries.

US sanctions against the country for its past support of terrorism were lifted about two years ago. Other US sanctions remain in place for human rights violations during the conflict in Darfur and the national emergency imposed in the aftermath of the 25 October coup, but these may be lifted as the country heads towards elections later this year.

The Military Industry Corporation is one of the country’s largest state owned conglomerates and the military is known to have a large but unknown stake in the company. Mogahid Osman Khalid, MIC Director, who spoke to defenceWeb, said Sudan has the third largest defence industry on the continent, after Egypt and South Africa.

Khalid said that MIC is moving toward greater transparency. “We want to open up and show what we have,” he said. Khalid said the MIC is audited and its annual report is sent to the central bank and the finance ministry, but only selected information is made public. Although the government has an economic reform programme, Khalid does not think the MIC will ever be privatised as it is a “strategic body”.

Khalid said the MIC mostly manufactures weapons systems under licenses from Russia, Ukraine, China, and Turkey, but is developing a few systems on its own.

The company has an extensive product range which includes armoured vehicles, tanks, trucks, artillery, light aircraft boats and ships, as well as uniforms. It also has interests in the auto and agricultural and mining equipment industries. Its more sophisticated products include the BK-3, a precision guided 270 kg bomb that can used on a variety of aerial platforms. MIC also produces the ASR-2, an 80 mm air-to-ground rocket that uses shaped charge fragments and shock waves to destroy ground targets. It is launched from rocket pods that hold 20 rounds.

Khalid said MIC “only deals with legal governments” and currently sells to a number of other African countries. MIC also has service contracts to maintain tanks, trucks, and aircraft for a number of armed forces on the continent. “Africa buys old technology and we have the ability to support, service, and maintain this,” he said.

Khalid added that MIC is open to collaboration with other African countries as well as the private sector.

MIC’s competitive position is helped by its geographical location on the continents and, “good products, and competitive prices,” he said.

Since the 1990s Chinese, Russian and Iranian companies have helped Sudan develop its domestic military industry after an international arms embargo placed on the country. The Military Industry Corporation was established in 1993 to manufacture weapons and equipment for the Sudanese military and is now marketing its products internationally, including main battle tanks (based on Chinese designs), small arms, recoilless rifles, mortars, rocket launchers, upgraded armoured vehicles, ammunition, electronics and uniforms.