With certain exceptions, notably its tender bulletin, the Armscor website is up and running again following a hack this month that revealed hundreds of millions of rands worth of defence deals, including that of VIP aircraft maintenance.
“Certain sections are undergoing changes and testing and have been temporarily de-activated,” Lulu Mzili, General Manager: Marketing And Business Development, said in response to a defenceWeb enquiry.
Measures are also being put in place to prevent a recurrence of similar hacking attempts and Armscor technicians are “attending to the matter” she said.
“The tender bulletin is one of the sections undergoing changes and testing, hence its temporary de-activation,” Mzili said adding companies not registered with Armscor are advised to access the national tender system in the interim where they will obtain the necessary information”.
According to her the Armscor technical team is working 24/7 to ensure all affected sites are tested and once verified they will “soon be activated”.
“Armscor again expresses regret for any inconvenience.”
The hackread website reported “the operation OpAfrica has found another victim. This time it’s the Pretoria-based arms procurement agency, Armscor. The breach can be labelled as a massive hack because Armscor is the official arms procurement agency of the SA Department of Defence”.
“The hacktivist behind this hack is the same one who previously hacked two Israeli arms importers and leaked client details in public for operation OpIsrael. This time the hacker has chosen the dark net to leak 63 MB data in HTML files that includes invoice numbers, order numbers, invoice amounts, etc. of Airbus, Thales, Rolls Royce, EADS and Denel, among others.” Data from Denel, Boeing, BAE Systems, Panasonic, Glock and Microsoft was also obtained.
The data released by the Anonymous-linked hackers also posted invoice data for Barloworld, Bohlabela, the CSIR, ECM Technologies, Finmeccanica, Forges de Zeebrugge, Pilatus, Reutech, Rheinmetall, Rolls Royce, Saab, Siemens, ThyssenKrupp, Telkom, Tellumat, Thales, Vodadom, Aerosud, Airbus, Cybicom Atlas Defence and other companies. The data only contains invoice numbers, dates and amounts.
A lot of the information posted online involves invoices marked ‘not paid’. For instance, the data showed that invoices to Thales worth around R15 million between March 2015 and 2016 were marked as not paid while R33 million in invoices from Thales Optronics between December 2014 and March 2016 were marked as not paid. R4 million worth of invoices for Diehl BGT Defence were marked as not paid between December 2014 and April 2016.
The invoice data raised some questions about ExecuJet’s VIP aircraft maintenance payments, with the hacked data showing Armscor paid R230 million to ExecuJet to maintain the VIP aircraft used by the government to ferry around President Jacob Zuma and other VIPs.
Invoice data from last week’s hack of the Armscor website lists amounts paid to ExecuJet from April 2014 to April 2016, giving a total of R230 million.
“This is a very competitive industry. These leaks might not be sensitive in terms of releasing defence information, but companies are worried this information will get out there. It is commercially sensitive,” said an employee of one of the companies named in the leak, according to News24.
ExecuJet Aviation was recently in the headlines when it was revealed that a Bombardier jet hired from the company to fly deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and a government delegation on an official trip to Japan was owned by Westdawn Investments, a Gupta-owned company who had President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane as one of its directors.
Aside from leasing aircraft, which is done through National Treasury, ExecuJet Aviation’s subsidiary company ExecuJet Maintenance has also received tenders to keep some of the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) ageing fleet of VVIP aircraft in the air.
Publicly tendered ExecuJet figures do not amount to R230 million in two years. According to Armscor tender records, ExecuJet Maintenance in August 2011 secured a five-year R90 million contract for the “provision of product support services” for the SAAF’s two Falcon 50 and one Falcon 900 VVIP aircraft, reports News24. The contract should therefore end in August.
ExecuJet Aviation Group in 2014 was contracted to refurbish four SAAF Beechcraft King Air aircraft with new engines and avionics; while ExecuJet Maintenance secured contracts from Armscor between 2007 and 2010 valued at about R40 million. In 2011 it was revealed the SAAF had paid R58.1 million to ExecuJet Maintenance in six years to provide “product support services” to the presidential Boeing Business Jet (BBJ).
Neither Armscor and ExecuJet were willing to provide any more information on how and what the R230 million was spent on.
The SA Air Force’s VIP aircraft maintenance is in the spotlight after technical troubles with the fleet. Inkwazi recently suffered a leaking fuel pipe while the President was in Doha, Qatar. Another technical problem had earlier left him stranded in Burundi.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she wanted a new VIP aircraft by the end of March 2016, but on 22 April Armscor issued a tender for the wet lease of an intercontinental VIP aircraft for at least 12 months. The aircraft was to commence service on 1 June, but that date has come and gone.