Denel Land Systems (DLS) is on track to deliver the first 88 Badger Infantry Combat Vehicles to the South African Army by May 2019 and is gearing up for full rate production.
Stephan Burger, CEO of DLS, said long lead items are being acquired ahead of full-rate production and to date, 15 vehicles have been produced and transfer of technology from Finland has concluded. The first eight badger turrets are in the process of being assembled with the first four reaching an advanced stage of assembly by DLS. In the 2017/18 financial year the plan is to produce 59 turrets and deliver twenty completed systems. Deliveries of all 242 Badgers is set to conclude in 2022.
There are five main Badger variants for the South African Army: the Section variant with 30 mm CamGun; the Mortar variant with a 60 mm, 6 kilometre range breech-loading mortar developed locally by DLS; the Fire Support variant with 30 mm CamGun, the Anti-tank variant with Ingwe missiles, and the Command Variant which enables Command and Control from company level.
There will also be five new variants for joint operations (the Joint Task Force), including Ambulance, Signals, Basic Artillery Observation System (BAOS), Command and Logistics.
Burger told defenceWeb that development of the Section variant has concluded and is at Product Baseline 1 (PBL 1). The Command variant is about to be finalised while the Fire Support variant is in the process of being finalised after the client requested some changes. The Anti-tank variant will undergo firings in June-July to establish a production baseline by the end of the year. Firing of the Mortar variant is expected in July-August for production baseline at year-end.
Meanwhile, South African company Thoroughtec is busy delivering Badger simulators, which are arriving at Denel Land Systems’ premises ahead of schedule. Several simulators have been acquired, including those for the driver, commander and gunner.
On the ammunition side, Burger told defenceWeb that all the 30×173 mm ammunition and all the 60 mm mortar bombs have been delivered and accepted into the South African Army’s stores. The 60 mm mortars were supplied by Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) while Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP) supplied most of the 30 mm ammunition, except for some specialised rounds such as sabot rounds, which were acquired overseas. RDM delivered the final batch of ammunition in March 2017.
Burger said Denel has built around 16 of the 30 mm GI-30 cam-operated cannons for the Badger, and around 108 for Malaysia for a total of over 120 weapons. He said more and more potential customers are expressing interest in the weapon, but DLS hopes to sell complete turrets and not just guns.
Burger noted Badger development had experienced some delays, as the company had to develop a lot from scratch, including the 30 mm CamGun and breech-loading, water-cooled mortar system, but development is essentially complete. He said Denel had been “sweating blood” on the Badger programme but it is a success and one of the reasons for that is because Armscor, Denel and the South African Army created an integrated design team. Eight personnel from the end user are on Denel’s premises to assist with the project.
The Badger is a modified version of the Patria 8×8 vehicle, which was selected as an existing design since the South African Army’s order did not justify designing a completely new vehicle. The flat bottom mine resistant floor was developed locally by Land Mobility Technologies. Other changes include local add-on armour, a new door, revised interior and fresh water tank, amongst others.
Badger is DLS’s flagship programme but at the moment the company is not actively marketing the vehicle, turrets and weapons as it is focussing on delivering systems to the South African Army. However, Burger said the company has been approached by potential customers and once the vehicle is in service with the South African Army Denel will start active marketing.
Nevertheless, the Badger programme resulted in Denel in 2011 receiving a R4.6 billion contract to develop, manufacture, supply, deliver and commission turrets for Malaysia’s fleet of DefTech AV8 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles. The contract requires industrial participation in Malaysia and as a result, production and assembly are taking place in that country.
The Malaysian contract, the largest export contract in Denel’s history, is seeing Denel Land Systems supply 69 LCT-30 turrets (with 30 mm CamGun) for the infantry fighting vehicle variants; 54 ATGW (Anti Tank Guided Weapon) turrets (30 mm CamGun) for the armoured personnel carriers and 54 Rogue turrets for the armoured personnel carrier variant. Denel Dynamics is supplying 216 Ingwe missiles for the ATGW turrets.
Burger said DLS is in full production for Malaysia and has delivered 51 completed turrets in addition to most of the knockdown kits that get assembled in Malaysia.
Due to technical challenges and economic factors in Malaysia, that contract has been extended by two years to nine years. This has had some cash flow implications for Denel.
Nevertheless, Burger said the last financial year was an exciting and busy one for Denel Land Systems, with revenue of R2.6 billion in 2015/16. This compares to revenue of R1.6 billion in 2014/15 and profit of R139 million in 2015/16, according to the latest Denel annual report. Burger said there had been a substantial growth in sales, with a third of that being local.