New SA defence industry guide

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The eighth edition of the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) guide to the overall local defence and aerospace sectors is a comprehensive 300 plus page publication.

In addition to providing details of companies active in the South African defence industry, also known by the acronym SADI, the publication carries a foreword penned by Secretary for Defence Gladys Kudjoe. There is also an unattributed introduction which states: “Across air, land and sea the South African industry remains a heavyweight in Africa. Its aerospace, maritime and defence industry is one of the most highly regarded in the world and certainly among developing nations (sic)”.

Aviation-wise the publication has it South Africa is an air transport hub “with some of the best infrastructure in the region, hosts dozens of companies that do everything from operating to maintaining and building aircraft”.

“Over the past 50 years the aerospace industry has achieved remarkable feats,” the publication states listing some as the design and launch of satellites and satellite launch vehicles, an attack helicopter, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), award winning gliders and record-breaking light aircraft. The civil manufacturing sector sells dozen of locally built aircraft around the world every year.”

South Africa’s status as a maritime nation is dependent on “the oceans that surround it” and is important strategically and as a long corridor hub.

“The benefit derived from commercial shipping sees up to 95% of South Africa’s imports and exports arrive or depart by sea. It is hardly surprising that South Africa has a robust maritime repair and ship and boatbuilding industry which exports hundreds of boats in all shapes and sizes every year.”

On the local defence industry the publication has it South Africa is globally recognised for being diverse.

“Over the last decades it developed a full range of ground forces equipment, a range of guided weapons, helicopters, fighter jets and advanced electronic warfare and tactical communications equipment as well as nuclear weapons and reconnaissance satellites. This includes what was widely regarded as the best long range artillery system in the world and the best mine protected vehicles.”

The introduction does not shy away from problems facing the industry, which it sees as “challenges”. These include reduced South African defence spending, the COVID-19 pandemic, increased international competition, skills shortages, lack of financial support, regulatory hurdles and reduced research and development (R&D) spending. “Such challenges are not uncommon elsewhere in the world,” it states with the rider that there are many opportunities “as well”.

All told thirty-three chapters offer information on products and services ranging from the space sector through to ship repairs and shipbuilding as well as infantry weapons, military health equipment, guided weapons and much else in between.