Arabian Defence Industries (ADI) has received an order for 50 of Paramount’s Mbombe armoured vehicles for Jordan’s armed forces but the joint venture company will ultimately manufacture a full range of Paramount vehicles, including the Matador and Marauder.
Last week Paramount Group created the joint venture ADI with the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau Investment Group during the Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX) in Amman, Jordan. “We chose SOFEX to announce Arabian Defence Industries, which is a partnership for the Middle East,” said Ivor Ichikowitz, founder and Executive Chairman of Paramount, who added that a lot had happened on the sidelines of SOFEX and that there are other projects in the pipeline.
ADI was established to design, develop, manufacture, market and supply defence related products over land, air and sea platforms inside Jordan and the region. ADI will take existing designs, fine tune them for the local market and produce the resulting solutions in Jordan, with a local management team, and regional marketing strategies. The current plan for the company is to start with ground vehicles and then expand its manufacturing services to tri-service productions, Paramount said.
Ichikowitz said ADI was establishing an aircraft refit facility in Jordan to upgrade and repurpose rotary and fixed wing aircraft. It will install avionics, weapons systems and mission systems and well as do complete aircraft overhauls.
He said Arabian Defence Industries was very important for the South African defence industry as it established a beachhead in one of the largest aerospace and defence markets in the world. As Jordan is politically stable and has a good labour force it is an ideal place to establish a manufacturing base. Ichikowitz said Paramount had been talking for many years about collaborating in the area of research and development and was now living that philosophy. “ADI is the culmination of seven or eight years of work.”
“The South African defence industry has become one of the most advanced developers of defence technologies in the world and Paramount Group today is the custodian of much of this technology,” Ichikowitz said. “It has always been our philosophy to share technology, transfer skills and to assist countries in driving industrialisation and to create jobs. The signing of this [Mbombe] contract provides us with the first concrete step in doing this in Jordan.
“South Africa has been leading the world in armoured vehicle and land mine protected technologies for decades. We have an amazing skills base, we are home to some of the best engineers in the world and they have developed technologies that are used globally and save lives every day. The Mbombe…is a product that we are very proud of…and we are very excited to share this technology with our partners.”
According to Ichikowitz, the Jordanian contract does not mean less work for South Africa as there will be workshare between South Africa and Jordan.
The Mbombe is a six-wheeled infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) featuring a flat-bottomed blast protected hull, giving a low silhouette of less than 2.4 metres. It is designed to provide protection against landmines, IEDs, side blasts and RPG attacks, with mine protection to STANAG 4569 level 4a and 4b). Against IEDs, it can withstand a 50kg TNT blast. Maximum speed is 100 km/h and road range is 700 km. Power comes from a 336 kW turbodiesel engine.
It can be configured as an armoured personnel carrier (with eight troops, excluding crew) or armoured fighting vehicle mounting a heavy machine gun or automatic cannon/remote weapon station (up to 30 mm). Variants include armoured personnel carrier, command vehicle, 120 mm mortar version and anti-armour fire support vehicle with anti-armour missiles.
Regarding Paramount’s other business areas, Ichikowitz told defenceWeb that the AHRLAC was on schedule and that Paramount Advanced Technologies was working on new productions while Paramount Naval Systems had a full order book and is expecting year on year growth.
Ichikowitz said that the rest of the world looks at Paramount as a market and technological leader and that he is very proud of South Africa for making it happen. He said Paramount has been punching against the big boys and winning. “Paramount is a microcosm of what the South African industry can become. I would like other local companies to see what their potential is as well.” This is in spite of challenges such as shrinking markets and brain drain, he noted.
Up until recently Paramount did no business with the South African government but Ichikowitz said he wanted to contribute to the South African National Defence Force and support it. When Paramount acquired Advanced Technologies and Engineering (ATE) it took over avionics support for the Hawk, Oryx and Vulture for the SANDF.