Aerospace and Defence Masterplan is the industry’s last hope

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The 2020 Aerospace and Defence Masterplan is “the last hope of the industry” and needs to be implemented in order to save it.

This is according to Dr Moses Khanyile, National Defence Industry Council (NDIC) Coordinator, who was briefing the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on 3 March on plans to boost the South African defence industry.

The Aerospace and Defence Masterplan was adopted in October 2020. It has developed a number of clear goals and plans of action for the stabilisation and development of the sector. The first pillar of the Masterplan is increasing market access and this includes doubling South African defence exports by the end of 2025. The second pillar aims to further government-to-government marketing and help increase export earnings and position South Africa as the regional centre of excellence for maintenance, repair and overhaul and the supplier of choice for commercial unmanned aerial vehicle manufacturing and operations, and armoured vehicles.

Other programmes include increasing the budget for the Special Defence Account between 2021 and 2025, stabilising Denel, engaging National Treasury on the defence budget, establishing a maintenance, repair and overhaul Centre of Excellence in the OR Tambo special economic zone, replacing imports of selected products, implementing home build programmes and implementing catalytic space programmes. One of the biggest projects is the establishment of the Centurion Aerospace Village to increase the competitiveness of the local commercial aerospace manufacturing industry.

Amongst other Masterplan initiatives are enhancing funding and finance support mechanisms for the industry, developing human capital, commercialising South African intellectual property and developing a South African Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Khanyile expressed concern that Government has not taken the masterplan very far and something needs to be done. “The masterplan is the last hope of the industry,” he said, and “renewed focus” is required to implement it.

“When it was adopted, the masterplan was touted as the most progressive document to take the sector forward. It was developed jointly by all stakeholders in the sector, and thus had the support and by-in of everyone. Both government and the aerospace and defence industry have to work together in operationalising the masterplan provisions. It is important that we move with speed in implementing, fully, all the provisions of the masterplan. Parliamentary intervention is highly requested in this regard,” Khanyile stated.