Proof exports are the lifeblood of the South African defence industry comes from the latest National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) report which points out more than R800 million worth of military materiel was exported in the first quarter of this year.
By contrast, the value of imports totalled just over R117 million from 10 countries – Finland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, France and the United States.
The largest single component imported was from Finland, where Patria has partnered with Denel Land Systems (DLS) for South African manufacture of the new Badger infantry fighting vehicle for the SA Army. According to the NCACC report, a single armoured personnel carrier (APC) was imported from Finland at a cost of just over R18 million with two APC hulls, valued at R36 million, also coming from the Nordic country.
The remainder of imports was ammunition in varying calibres, pistols, light weapons, cameras, thermal imagers, transceivers, night vision systems, a single telescope for use in imaging and counter-measures and a lone piece of software for the Gripen fighter valued at R142.
Military equipment was exported to 52 countries in the first three months of 2015 utilising 605 export permits, the NCACC chaired by Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, said.
“Big ticket” items here included 24 mine detection vehicles valued at over R160 million for Iraq, 17 turrets worth R145 181 037 destined for Malaysia as part of the multi-million Rand contract DLS has with the Malaysian military, 23 APCs sold to Nigeria for R84.8 million and a further 16 APCs sold to Saudi Arabia for R31.4 million. No further details are provided of the sales.
Another “big ticket” item was a missile bought by Iraq for R22.4 million.
Nigeria also boosted its arsenal with the purchase of 68 mm, 40 mm and 30 mm ammunition to the value of over R30 million.
In the NCACC’s heavy weapons calibre section, Azerbaijan acquired 30 40 mm guns worth over R22 million, 20 sniper rifles valued at R1.7 million and 10 anti-material rifles (R4.6 million).
Other equipment, including electronics, fire control and warning, imaging and counter-measures, as well as hand grenades and ammunition of various calibres, was sold to counties including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Brazil, Egypt, Denmark, the United Arab Emirates Namibia, Botswana Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Germany and the Russian Federation.
In 2014 South Africa exported arms worth R2.98 billion, compared to R3.2 billion the year before and R10.6 billion in 2012, according to the NCACC’s 2014 annual report. R200 million worth of equipment was imported last year.