Vehicles, ammunition were bulk of 2017 SA arms exports


The South African defence industry exported R1.5 billion worth of armoured vehicles in 2017 and billions of rands worth of additional hardware, from missiles to grenade launchers, according to unverified statistics from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC).

In its 2017 Annual Report for January to December, the NCACC stated that armoured vehicles accounted for the highest value of exports. In 2017 Egypt received two mine detection and towing vehicles (R16.7 million), Somalia received seven armoured vehicles (R43 million), Jordan received six armoured personnel carriers (APCs) for R92 million; Saudi Arabia received five APCs (R33 million), Thailand received 16 APCs (R86 million), Angola received 21 armoured vehicles (R92 million), Botswana received 14 APCs (R53 million), Mali received six APCs (R21 million), Namibia received eight APCs (R66 million), Singapore received 70 armoured vehicles (R227 million) and 109 APC hulls (R222 million), Zambia received three armoured vehicles for R19 million, the United Arab Emirates received 81 APCs (R450 million) and the United States received five mine detection vehicles (R41 million). Swaziland received a single APC for R6 million, according to the NCACC.

The mine detection vehicles are most likely Husky models built by DCD Protected Mobility. Botswana ordered 14 LM5 APCs from Land Mobility Technologies (LMT) two years ago – this is the International Armoured Group JAWS vehicle built in the UAE and sold by LMT. The vehicles for Jordan and Singapore are most likely Paramount products, as the company has contracts with them, while the vehicles for Angola are most likely Casspirs from Denel Mechem. Denel has multiple contracts with the UAE and Saudi Arabia for armoured vehicles.

South African 40 mm grenade launchers again proved popular in 2017, with 612 exported to Egypt (R17 million), four to France (R144 000), 110 to Saudi Arabia (R5.6 million), three to Ghana (R194 000), 56 to India (R3.7 million), 15 to Korea (R710 000), and 10 to the UAE (R3.5 million). Other weapons included nine 20 mm weapons systems (probably turrets) to Germany (R92 million), two 20 mm weapons systems to France (R20 million), four 20 mm cannons to Thailand (R7.6 million), four 20 mm cannons to Indonesia (R3 million), and four turrets to Namibia (R7 million). These weapons and turrets most likely came from Denel and Reutech.

Small arms exports included 61 7.62 mm machineguns to Jordan (R8 million), four 7.62 mm machineguns to Indonesia (R541 000), 500 7.62 mm machineguns to Oman (R71 million) and five rifles to the United States (R795 000). The machineguns were most likely Denel Land Systems products.

Large amounts of ammunition were exported in 2017, including 27 ‘surface target’ missiles worth R35 million to Algeria – these are probably Mokopa missiles for its Super Lynx helicopters. Nigeria received 20 521 bombs weighing 250 kg each (R26 million), the Netherlands received 20 000 81 mm mortar bombs (R34 million), Saudi Arabia received 25 630 81 mm mortar bombs (R165 million), Oman received 8 000 60 mm mortar bombs (R25 million) and 5 000 81 mm mortar bombs (R42 million) while the United Arab Emirates received 24 000 60 mm mortar bombs (R34 million), 686 undefined mortar bombs (R27 million), 1 019 250 kg bombs (R24 million) and another 64 482 60 mm mortar bombs (R152 million).

Smaller ammunition included 125 040 40 mm rounds to Pakistan (R45 million), 2 500 20 mm rounds to Jordan (R22 million), 500 000 tracer rounds to Greece (R2.5 million), 16 373 20×82 mm rounds (R11 million) and 5 000 20×139 mm rounds (R4 million) to Indonesia, 2 000 90 mm rounds to Kenya (R5.6 million), 16 908 40 mm rounds (R14 million) to the Philippines), 50 000 40 mm rounds to Oman (R37 million), 374 000 40 mm rounds (R217 million) and 9 922 000 7.62×51 mm rounds to the United Arab Emirates (R67 million).

Malawi acquired large amounts of ammunition including 319 600 12.7×99 mm rounds (R14 million), 5 895 000 7.62×51 mm rounds (R46 million), 270 000 5.56×51 mm rounds (R1 million), 4 000 000 5.56×45 mm rounds (R8.6 million) and 1 000 000 9×19 mm rounds (R3.6 million).

The remainder of South Africa’s defence exports included electronics, countermeasures and other equipment, including six ‘electronic attack’ systems worth R42 million delivered to Egypt. Radios and receivers were exported to Egypt, Ecuador, Thailand, China, Angola, India, Indonesia and Myanmar. Other exports included an airborne observation system (R4.6 million) to Argentina, IFF transponders to India (R1.2 million), 30 helmet tracking sensors to the UK for R3.9 million, five inertial measurement units to the US for R3.2 million, an airborne observation system worth R10 million to Germany and three submarine periscopes to Germany for R66 million.

India also received ‘electronic equipment’ worth R189 million and communications equipment worth R61 million. Brazil received electronic warfare simulation software for R8 million while Thailand, China and Vietnam received software worth a combined R5 million.

Direction finders were sold to Germany and Saudi Arabia, and rangefinders and laser rangefinders were sold to Italy, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, Myanmar, Slovakia, United Kingdom and the United States.

Self-protection systems, most likely manufactured by Saab, were sold to Brazil, which took seven for R41 million, France (three for R7.5 million), Sweden (four for R3.7 million), Switzerland (four defensive aids suits for R4.5 million) and the United Arab Emirates (20 for R8.7 million). Saudi Arabia acquired 284 ‘land electronic defence systems’ for R59 million.

While the NCACC report is a good starting point for South African arms exports, its figures cannot be fully trusted and must be treated with caution: the NCACC’s 2017 annual report states that R3.44 billion worth of weapons and equipment was exported in 2017 to 159 countries and involved 1 682 export permits, but the subsequent NCACC presentation to parliament stated that R4.558 billion worth of equipment was exported to 86 countries and covered 1 671 export permits. However, when the quarterly figures from the 2017 presentation are added up they amount to exports worth R3.841 billion. The reasons for these discrepancies are not clear – it is perhaps due to the difference in permits authorised and actual exports.