SA seeks global defence business


One of the world’s largest defence shows opened in London yesterday morning with South African companies having a strong presence at Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2015. While SA foreign policy has strongly pivoted toward the BRICS grouping, the country’s attendance and high level delegation shows that Pretoria wants to build global defence business links.

For the UK it is a great opportunity for its defence exports effort that brings together industry, the armed forces, and government departments. The UK’s Department of Trade and Industry pays for many of the official delegations to attend the show. The official African delegations on this year’s list are from – Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa.

SA’s delegation, not all of them paid for by the UK Department of Trade and Industry, includes the Minister of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, a number of Denel and Armscor board members, and a few top SA army officials.

SA has one of the 40 country pavilions at the show, all financed by governments to provide show space for national companies. The Department of Trade and Industry finances the SA presence at this show as well as other international defence exhibitions around the world.

SA companies in London this week show a broad diversity of the local defence related industry. The big absentee from SA companies exhibiting at the show was Paramount Group. The group’s marketing director Eric Ichikowitz says the show was not in this year’s plan, but the company has a sizeable executive presence in London this week.

Already on day one of the show, South African companies were reporting contracts. Shrike Marine, the Cape Town based naval electrical engineering company said it received an order to manufacture two qualified display console units. These will be used in a submarine application for a customer the company did not name. Separately, Shrike Marine said yesterday it concluded talks with German gear and component manufacturer Harmonic Drive to represent them in South Africa.

Parsec, the Centurion based electrical engineering company, has released a new VPX solution, which is able to carry its generic, radar processing, electronic warfare controller, and other cards in an easily upgradable rugged solution.

PJ Aviation, the Gariep based manufacturer of radios used by small and temporary airports and landing facilities, has released its PA25 VHF Linear Amplifier to boost transceiver signals to an antenna. The company says it produces low levels of distortion, spurious emissions, and channel interference.

Rapid M, the modem and military radio designer and manufacturer, has released its RM8 Software Defined Modem & ALE to support the need for encrypted high capacity communication. This is aimed at the naval market for transmitting video and voice communications for situational awareness and command and control.

Denel Vehicle Systems reports recent possible interest in its RG-21 mine resistant vehicle variant with an Iveco chassis from Botswana. Kenya and Tanzania have also shown interest in the vehicle made by the Benoni based company which Denel bought from BAE Systems Land Systems SA last year.

Megaray, the manufacturer of high intensity searchlights, has its new MR3300 on display at DSEI. The searchlight is designed to be mounted either on vessels or vehicles.

DSEI is an enormous event with an exhibition area spread across the equivalent of 16 rugby pitches, as well as an outdoor space for ships and helicopter displays. Ships from Belgium, Canada, India, Germany and the UK are moored alongside for the event, with waterborne demonstrations of high-speed craft built to tackle piracy and terror threats taking place in the Royal Victoria Dock. Aircraft including Typhoons, Merlins and Wildcats will also be on display, although not flying.

Most of the Defense News 2015 Top 100 companies, except the Russian companies on the list, are present with sizeable stands. The European Union imposed arms sanctions on Russia after its forces took over Crimea. The Defense News list excludes Chinese companies, who are barred from doing business in the European Union.

The show is a growing global affair with attendance expected to reach over 32,000, which is up 13 percent on two years ago year. Over 120 countries, nearly 1 500 defence and security companies, and 150 delegations come from 60 countries. Of the exhibitors, 448 are at DSEI for the first time.

DSEI is taking place at a time of tight defence budgets in the larger markets. But there are signs that in the US spending might bottom out in the next two years and the UK is planning for small rises in equipment spending over the next five years.

The Russian conflict with Ukraine, the rise of Islamic State, and China’s naval activity in the South China Sea are giving a new push to higher defence spending. Asian countries are spending heavily on sea and air power, while much of the Middle East is investing heavily in air capability. However, the emerging markets currency crisis has cast a pallor over defence spending by some of the larger markets, particularly Brazil and South Africa.

Companies and organizations on the SA stand this year are:

Aerodyne Research Manufacturing – parachutes

Armormax – Civilian armoured vehicles

Armscor SOC – Purchasing and sales for South African National Defence Force and test and evaluation

Canvas and Tent Manufacturing – Shelters, tents, and bags

Cochrane Steel Products – Security barriers

Cybicom Atlas Defence – Simulators

DCD Group – Protected vehicles and mine detonation vehicle

Denel SOC – SA state owned Defense News Top 100 company in position 100

GEW Technologies – Spectrum management and monitoring

Imperial Armour – Helmets, vests, and plates

Megaray – High intensity beams

Parsec – Electronic engineering

PJ Aviation – Portable aeronautical radio base stations

Alaris Antennas – Antennas

Rapid Mobile – Data terminals, modems, and radios

Reutech Communications – Transceivers

Retutech Radar Systems – Radars

Rippel Effect Systems – Grenade launchers

Shrike Marine – Cables and harnessing , marine and submarine consoles, missile safety systems

South African Aerospace Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) – Industry Association

S–Plane Automation – Flight control for UAVS, simulators

Stepahead Military Headwear Distributors – Caps, epaulettes, berets

Techtronic Technology Solutions – vehicle and locomotive electrical systems

Tellumat – transponders, UAV data and video link

Truvelo Manufacturing – Sniper rifles

Zebra Sun – Helmets, vest, plates, shields

Zero Industries – Inflatable life and ballistic jackets