Expect more optimism among especially South African delegates when the business side of the 2013 Land Forces Africa conference starts in Pretoria tomorrow.
By and large, this optimism will be ascribed to imminent finalisation of the contract that will see production of the long-awaited new infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for the SA Army.
Speaking ahead of the continent’s single largest military conference aimed specifically at landward forces, Denel Land Systems (DLS) chief executive Stephan Burger said engagement was “currently underway with Armscor as regards finalisation of the contract for the production of IFVs as determined by project Hoefyster”.
He points out the contract is of “great significance, not only for Denel but for the South African defence industry”.
Late last month Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube said he hoped the first production Badger IFV would come off the production line by year-end. He sees the last of the 264 IFVs to replace the Army’s ageing Ratels delivered by 2023.
When more than 600 delegates gather at the CSIR Conference Centre over the next two days, the long delayed Defence Review is also expected to be a topic of discussion. Indications are it could be tabled in Parliament next month and, if approved, pave the way for a revamped SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as well as give the defence industry a roadmap to the future.
Of the Review Burger said: “We are also optimistic that implementation of the recommendations of the Defence Review will lead to further dynamic growth of the South African defence industry. In this Denel will play a strategic role, as a defined national asset that has sovereign and strategic capabilities.”
Among speakers lined up for Land Forces Africa are SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Vusi Masondo; Brigadier General Joseph Kakoto, Namibian Defence Force Chief of Staff Logistics; Angola’s Land Force Commander, General Lucio Goncalves Amaral; Uganda People’s Defence Force Joint Chief of Staff, Major General Fred Mugisha and Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti, AMISOM Force Commander.