Jaco de Jager, a 31 year Armscor veteran, who spent many years in senior management positions, died in Pretoria late last month.
He studied chemical engineering and after spending six years at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where he was part of a team researching missiles and other defence technologies, Da Jager decided it was time to move on and he joined Armscor predecessor, the Armaments Board of SA, as a project engineer in the guided weapons division.
At the end of 1977 he was transferred to Kentron, the then newly established Armscor affiliate and a year later was named manager of the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency’s missiles and rockets division.
According to Bertus Celliers, former Armscor archivist and a personal friend of de Jager’s, his star “really started to rise” after this appointment.
De Jager was elected to the Armscor management board in 1992 serving in three different disciplines – vehicle and weapons systems, defence systems and general manager affiliated companies – before retiring in March 2001 with 31 years of service to his name.
As a member of Armscor management, De Jager attended many international defence exhibitions and was a key player in getting South Africa’s own defence expo – DEXSA (Defence Exposition of SA), later to become AAD (Africa Aerospace and Defence) – up at running as a showcase for the local defence industry.
He was also close to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) following its formation in 1994 and was invited by then SANDF Chief, General Siphiwe Nyanda, to observe the SADC (Southern African Development Community) force preparation exercise Blue Crane. De Jager was also present at Alkantpan as a guest of then Defence Minister, Joe Modise when South Africa destroyed its remaining stock of anti-personnel mines at Alkantpan.
Da Jager was intricately involved in, among others, the development of the G5 and G6 artillery systems as well as the Bateleur rocket launcher and the Valkyrie ammunition range.
As far back as 1981 he told colleagues “there is no better place to be than Armscor”.