Denel to show its wares in Poland


With the door to potential business in the Pacific Asia region having been closed, Denel is turning its attention to central and eastern Europe and will have “a strong marketing presence” at next week’s International Defence Industry Exhibition in Poland.

The exhibition, better known by its Polish acronym MSPO, starts on Friday in the historic city of Kielce and runs through to next Tuesday.

It will be the second time the South African government owned defence and technology group exhibits in Poland because the area is seen as an important market for particularly Denel’s armoured and mine-protected vehicles and its infantry weapon systems.

Last week Denel said it was exiting the joint venture with VR Laser Asia to establish as permanent marketing presence in Hong Kong with the primary aim of getting into the Asia Pacific defence market. Acting Denel chief executive Zwelakhe Ntshepe told a briefing where Denel’s financial results were announced that a resolution was taken to exit the Denel Asia JV and “explore alternative marketing approaches”.

He said the decision to go to Poland was because many central and eastern European countries, including the MSPO host country, are modernising forces to meet a changing geopolitical environment. Denel is looking at marketing opportunities for its products and systems in at least eight European countries including Romania, Kazakhstan, Serbia and Italy. It will also look further north in the Scandinavian countries to Sweden as a potential user of Denel products.

Five Denel group companies will participate in MSPO.

Denel PMP will display its small- and medium calibre ammunition range as well as the PAW-20 personal assault weapon, capable of accurately firing its 20×42 mm bursting ammunition up to more than 400 metres.

The Denel Overberg Test Range (OTR) has positioned itself as one of the most advanced facilities for the testing of aircraft weapon systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in the southern hemisphere. The range has hosted a number of European defence forces in recent years and will use the MSPO to market its services.

Denel Land Systems (DLS) will showcase its prowess in the landward defence arena focusing on the design and manufacture of artillery systems, infantry combat vehicles and combat turrets. Both Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) and LMT will provide information on their military vehicles and mine-protection technology to MPSO visitors.

The 2016 Polish defence equipment exhibition attracted more than 600 exhibitors from 46 countries whose expertise and equipment was seen by more than 22 000 people.

At last week’s financial results presentation, Odwa Mhlwana, Group CFO, said Denel, and the rest of the South African defence industry, is forced to venture into international markets that are highly complex and competitive. “The conditions in which we operate and trade are absolutely difficult,” he said, as Denel’s peers elsewhere in the world are heavily supported locally whereas Denel needs to export to survive and as a result is export-based even though its primary customers are the Department of Defence and Armscor.

Mhlwana emphasised that Denel believes Asia and the Middle East are very important potential markets and, after the disastrous Denel Asia joint venture with VR Laser Asia was dissolved in August, Denel is trying to make up for lost time in Asia. He said that the Middle East is Denel’s “bread and butter,” with a number of large armoured vehicle and missile contracts coming from the region, but Denel cannot ignore other markets like Africa. Europe appears to be another important focus of the company.