That the South African defence industry is ready and willing to support the needs of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was ably demonstrated during the Army’s Capability Demonstration at the General de Wit training area outside Bloemfontein this week.
Industry was invited to participate in the demonstration, with the public day on 18 May, and in addition to showing off weapons and equipment on static display, demonstrated hardware in action. Truvelo’s. 308 rifles kicked off the demonstration, with Army snipers firing the first shots at targets on the range near De Brug. Truvelo is supplying .308 sniper rifles to the Army after a five year evaluation process. A Truvelo representative said the Army tried to break the weapons during trials but failed. Truvelo also had a Counter Measures Sniper (CMS) 12.7 mm rifle on display.
Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) demonstrated its new Africa Truck for assembled guests, which included defence attaches, defence industry executives and a senior Zimbabwe Army official. At De Brug, the vehicle was fitted with Denel Vehicle Systems’ 7.62 mm SD ROW remotely operated weapons station on the roof, which fired down the range while controlled from inside the cab. The vehicle was in a flatbed configuration – when it was launched at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in September 2016 as a potential replacement for the Army’s Samil truck fleet it was fitted with an ISO container.
The Africa Truck is based on the RG-31 armoured vehicle and features ballistic and mine protection. It can be built in 4×4, 6×6 or 8×8 configurations.
South Africa’s two big grenade launcher manufacturers displayed their wares, with Rippel Effect firing 40 mm grenades from a dual launcher fitted to a Mamba armoured vehicle. At its stand Milkor had its range of grenade launchers on display, which now include the CIS 40 AGL 40 mm automatic launcher manufactured by ST Kinetics.
At Africa Aerospace and Defence last year the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) unveiled its 4×4 Light Tactical Vehicle to test weapons and equipment and this was on display with a 107 mm rocket launcher on the back. Although the vehicle can be produced and manufactured, the purpose behind it was to test technologies and equipment. Other CSIR technology on show included virtual reality software and a headset, observation/surveillance systems and situational awareness systems.
A lot of ammunition was expended for the demonstration (assault rifle and machinegun rounds, RPGs, aircraft bombs, 20 mm cannon rounds, 90 and 105 mm shells, 80 and 120 mm mortars, Ingwe and Milan missiles) and a lot of this was manufactured by Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), which also had a stand. One of its products in service with the SA Army, the Plofadder mine clearance system, was fired from a Casspir but a technical problem meant it had to be manually detonated – the Plofadder Mk 1 variant was delivered in the early 1990s and was more than ten years past its approved service life. (Two systems demonstrated during the course of the demonstration days did function successfully.)
One of the many highlights of the exercise was the public debut of the Denel Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) Inkunzi Strike automatic weapon. This was fired along with the semi-automatic Inkunzi. Both weapons use the new 20×42 mm calibre, giving the capability of a 40 mm grenade launcher in an assault rifle size package. The flat trajectory, compared to 40 mm grenades, of the 20×42 mm ammunition could clearly be seen on the range.
Saab supports the SANDF in many ways but aside from two of its Gripens bombing the range, its stand focussed on its camp and field kitchen offerings. The company has been awarded part of Project Teamster contracts, which cover the acquisition of new field kitchen facilities for the SANDF. Saab has been awarded the cold chain component of Teamster, for refrigerated containers and storage bins, and displayed storage units and cooking facilities at De Brug.
Saab has also supplied mobile medical systems to Anglo American, camp systems to the African Union/United Nations AMISOM mission in Somalia, and accommodation and associated facilities to the SANDF for use on the borders under Operation Corona.