Badger is best: Denel Land Systems


Attempts to lobby the government over the provision of armoured combat vehicles for the South African Army should be based on facts, Denel Land Systems (DLS) says. The company was responding to a pitch made last week for the Department of Defence to rethink its choice of vehicle for the Project Hoefyster new-generation infantry combat vehicle system.

Responding to media reports rather than the BAE Systems product presentation, DLS CE Stephan Burger said allegations “that we are to import the entire vehicle platform from Finland’s Patria are devoid of all truth.” He says more than 70% of the Badger, their solution, will be produced in South Africa in a process which will create more than 2000 jobs at DLS and about 100 subcontractors, while investing “substantial resources in the training in scarce skills and, reinforcing our high-tech manufacturing capacity and local defence technology.”

Burger adds DLS was awarded a contract in May 2007 following an open, transparent, tender process “and have been working on the Badger under contract for close to four years. At the stage of contract adjudication, there was no acceptable alternative 8×8 vehicle supplier other than Patria – which is by the way in production in five other countries – to meet the SANDF’s requirements. The solution proposed to Armscor and the SANDF is the best technology available at affordable costs. We have since negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with Patria for the industrialisation and production of the vehicle to be done in South Africa and it is unlikely that we will import more than 30% of the vehicle content.
“To develop a complex vehicle system like an infantry combat vehicle requires a huge engineering effort to comply with all standards, legislation, specifications, safety requirements and reliability parameters set by our customers. The Badger vehicle is being totally South Africanised – adding indigenously developed landmine protection and other new design elements,” Burger said.
“We are a systems integrator, producing the entire Badger including the vehicle, the turret, the ammunition, the logistics, the simulator and support equipment – everything except the man who operates it. The only part of the vehicle which cannot be locally manufactured is the drive train (engine, gearbox, differentials, etc.). We have strong international interest in our system and good prospects for export. It has been through an extensive design and testing process and has passed all of its qualification tests with flying colours.
“It is not possible to develop and build a better vehicle at lower cost in such a short period and therefore claims of cost reduction are regarded as speculative and unsubstantiated,” Burger says.
“As a state-owned enterprise, Denel fully supports government’s job-creation initiatives and people skills development and the reason for our existence is to support the strategic operational needs of the SANDF. The Badger provides numerous advantages to South Africa, including jobs for graduate engineers and designers as well as technical, skilled and semi-skilled workers; it will enhance our high-tech skills and manufacturing capacity and it will ensure sustainability of Denel and the South African defence industry with the opportunity to explore lucrative international markets.”
“This is before we even begin to process the impact of the intense international interest in the Badger and our other spin of products like G5, G6 artillery and other requirements from the SANDF”, he says. “It should also be noted that the cost penalties for a change in the contracting of Badger will outweigh any potential marginal saving – if any.”

BAE Systems last week said its RG41 is more modern and cheaper than the locally-customised version of the Patria AMV currently slated for production as the “Badger”. “Technology has evolved significantly in the years since Project Hoefyster was first launched,” Land Systems South Africa managing director Johan Steyn said. “It makes sense then to look at newer solutions such as [the] RG41 now available, which largely meet the technical requirements and could provide cost savings and broader economic benefits for the country.”

Then-Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin announced in his budget vote in May 2007 that the Army had awarded DLS a R8.4 billion contract to acquire 264 locally-engineered Patria AMV in five variants: section carrier, command, mortar, support and anti-tank. A R1.048 billion order to develop a prototype of each was awarded later that same month. One of each is currently undergoing evaluation. Once accepted by the military, 12 pre-production vehicles will be built. The first 37 production vehicles will be built by Patria in Finland.