Defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has said the Africa Truck project is moving ahead and will be commissioned by 2019.
Speaking during her 2018/19 defence budget vote on 18 May, the minister said “in my 2017 Budget Speech, I informed members that we had initiated the development of a multi-purpose logistic support vehicle called Truck Africa [sic] under Project Palama.
“This project has since commenced under the accelerated acquisition programme, making use of indigenous local knowledge and expertise. It will be commissioned in phases by 2019 at the latest. This project will be supportive of IPAP [Industrial Policy Action Plan] 2018.”
The minister’s comments are echoed by the Department of Defence Annual Performance Plan for 2018, which states that as part of the renewal of the landward defence capability of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), “the DoD has taken the initiative to develop a multipurpose-support-vehicle called “Truck Africa”, designed to enhance the Landward Defence Programme, which resourced production will take place during the FY2018/19.”
The Performance Plan notes that the renewal of the landward programme remains a Chief of the SANDF focus area and points out the landward arm of the SANDF did not form part of the Strategic Defence Packages, which focussed on new equipment for the South African Air Force and Navy.
Denel Vehicle Systems unveiled the Africa Truck at the 2016 Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition outside Pretoria where it was positioned as a potential replacement for the South African Army’s Samil truck fleet. The prototype was built in response to a SA Military Command Council request to Armscor, Denel, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to come up with ideas for a logistic vehicle.
The Africa Truck is based on the RG-31 armoured vehicle and features ballistic and mine protection (Stanag Level 2 protection, affording protection against armour piercing ammunition and a high degree of mine protection). It can be built in 4×4, 6×6 or 8×8 configurations. As it is designed to be constructed on a modular bases it will be able to be reconfigured to a variety of customer requirements for different loads and weapons for protection.
It has been fitted with Denel Vehicle Systems’ 7.62 mm SD ROW remotely operated weapons station on the roof.
The SA Army relies heavily on ageing Samil trucks for logistics. These are being maintained by Cuban technicians and mechanics in terms of Project Thusano. In her budget address last month, Mapisa-Nqakula said that since the 2015 commencement of Project Thusano, in collaboration with the Cuban armed forces, 5 601 vehicles have been repaired at a saving of R434 million. Skills were transferred to 1 171 SANDF members.
The minister added that 202 SANDF students are undertaking professional training in Cuba, including training as doctors.