The DCD Group’s Protected Mobility division today unveiled a new R100 million facility in Isando near OR Tambo International Airport. The 36 000 square metre property includes 22 000 square metres of factory and office space.
DCD Protected Mobility General Manager Andrew Mears said that DCD in late 2011 split off the Protected Mobility division, leaving the rolling stock business at its home in Boksburg. The decision to move Protected Mobility to its own facility was “to focus this very successful defence business and reposition it for future growth.” He added that the investment in a dedicated facility is critical to strengthening DCD’s foothold in the defence and security sector.
“We have recently expanded our product line so our own space to manufacture is important,” Mears said. The division launched the Mountain Lion armoured personnel carrier, and bought the Springbuck armoured personnel carrier range from Drakensberg Truck Manufacturers (DTM). DCD Protected Mobility’s most famous product is the Husky mine clearance vehicle.
DCD Group Managing Director, Rob King said the Mountain Lion had been designed with an eye to the future, as it has four wheel steering, something militaries find useful when trying to navigate large armoured vehicles through small villages, such as in Afghanistan. “DCD took a step ahead,” he said. “It’s not often you find a product ahead of a military requirement.”
DCD Protected Mobility said it is well positioned to service the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) demand for military vehicles. “The factory will enable the group to supply the SANDF from a local base, using local skills and materials in line with government’s localisation programme, as well as enhance existing exports for the US Army and Marine Corps and into Africa, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Spain and Turkey.”
King said DCD’s focus in the defence arena has been almost exclusively export-oriented, bringing in over R10 billion in foreign revenue over the past 15 years. “However, our focus is diversifying given the local demand expected to stem from the SANDF’s vehicle replacement programmes, which will be some of the biggest in the world in the next decade.”
“We can support Denel, Armscor, and the Department of Defence in consolidating South Africa’s defence industry by enabling SANDF contracts to be awarded to local manufacturers,” he said.
King noted that the Springbuck armoured vehicle was an ideal South African solution for the SANDF’s requirements, such as Hoefyster, Sepula and Vistula. Mears said that DCD was looking at participating in all three of these projects and would like to work with Denel on Project Hoefyster – the company could assist with assembly, for instance. On Project Vistula, which seeks a Samil replacement, DCD would work with an original equipment manufacturer as chief technical integrator. On Project Sepula, which seeks a Casspir and Mamba replacement, DCD would be able to supply key components.
It is also seeking to become a preferred South African manufacturer for foreign companies. King said that localisation is becoming the name of the game and is part of DCD Protected Mobility’s strategy. He said that if a company expects to receive large foreign orders, it has to expect to make provision for local content.
Mears said that for DCD to grow, it needed to diversify its product range and focus on BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries. He added that, “it is imperative to leverage off our success and expand into G7 partners.”
The opening ceremony was officially marked by the Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans, Dr Sam Gulube, who said that DCD Protected Mobility was an example of a proudly South African company that could meet the needs of the SANDF and contribute to socio-economic development. “A vibrant, focused and successful defence industry is a major asset to our country,” he commented. “We in the DoD will support you with local acquisitions but also through marketing.”
Gulube said that DCD Protected Mobility would play a critical role in supplying the SANDF’s needs, as well as the needs of Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and Africa as a whole.
DCD Protected Mobility has sold two thousand vehicles over the last twenty years and received several awards for its endeavours. It manufactures around four vehicles per week and is currently fulfilling contracts for Nigeria, Turkey and others.