South African defence industry ‘grabs global interest’


The quality and diversity of South African defence products and services are receiving increasing levels of attention on the global stage, according to Riaz Saloojee, the Group Chief Executive of Denel. The company signed a wide variety of important agreements at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition last week, covering land systems, missiles and aircraft.

Last week’s Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD) in Tshwane was an opportunity to showcase the achievement of the local industry and expose its capabilities to global manufacturers.

More than 40 000 industry players visited the AAD 2012 during its three trade days, including official delegations from 31 countries.

Saloojee said the exhibition confirmed Denel’s position as the premier manufacturer of cutting-edge defence products and provider of security-related services on the African continent. “We made great strides in expanding business opportunities in both the aerospace and landward defence sectors in the market during the week.”

Denel Dynamics, the company in the group responsible for the development of advanced tactical missiles, announced a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi-based Tawazun Holdings. The new company, Tawazun Dynamics, will be responsible for the development, integration and manufacturing of precision-guided weapon systems to the air force of the United Arab Emirates and other international clients.

Denel Dynamics is also on track to start with the production of the A-Darter air-to-air missile, jointly developed with Brazil, within the next two years.

In the aerospace sector Denel signed partnership agreements with four of the world’s largest manufacturers of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. The agreement with Italy-based Alenia Aermacchi will enable Denel Aerostructures to participate in future manufacturing and assembling of aeronautical structures and spare parts.

This follows closely on the signing of a renegotiated agreement with Airbus Military confirming Denel Aerostructures as the only top-tier supplier of parts, outside Europe, for the A400M airlifter.

Saloojee said Denel’s new strategic focus to position itself more prominently in the African market already paid dividends at AAD 2012. Denel Aviation signed agreements to be the preferred provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services to aircraft manufactured by Russian Helicopter and Irkut Corporation as well as Ukraine-based Antonov.

This adds to earlier similar agreements with Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin. “We are now able to maintain and repair a large cross-section of defence and civilian aircraft flying on the continent, right here, in Africa. Our proximity and knowledge of local geography and environmental conditions make us the obvious partner of choice for northern hemisphere manufacturers,” said Saloojee.

Another growth market – the provision of humanitarian demining services – was strengthened with the release of the latest version of the CASSPIR mine-protected vehicle. Denel predicts that the upgraded Casspir NG2000 will be in great demand from multinational peacekeeping forces due to its ability to protect occupants against landmines, roadside bombs and automatic rifle fire.

Denel also announced a strengthening of its landward defence manufacturing capabilities through a partnership with Pamodzi Holdings to acquire LMT Holdings, a local manufacturer of armoured vehicles.
“The deals we confirmed at AAD also underlined Denel’s commitment to grow the local defence industry,” said Saloojee. “We are growing the participation of empowerment companies in the defence sector and bringing an increasing number of small- and medium sized companies into our supply chain and network of service providers,” he said.