Hoefyster is another Denel casualty


The sorry saga that is the new infantry combat vehicle (ICV) for the SA Army drags on with Armscor indicating “no significant progress” in its 2020/21 annual report.

The State-owned defence and security acquisition agency, operating as a State-owned enterprise (SOE) in Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence and Military Veterans, notes “delays are mainly attributed to technical and financial challenges in Denel. During the reporting period, it has become clearer Denel is experiencing an increasing lack of capacity and capability and this has exacerbated delays on the programme”.

The programme, Project Hoefyster, will see the landward service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) replace its ageing Ratel fleet, in service for over 45 years, with nearly 250 Badger ICVs.

The Armscor report has it Hoefyster originally comprised five combat variants including logistic support and ammunition with four new variants added with the approval of an acquisition plan by the Armaments Acquisition Council (AAC) on 13 February 2013. The quantity of 238 combat vehicles was increased to 244 after approval to increase advance payments. Twenty-one vehicle platforms were delivered by Patria from Finland, while the remaining vehicle platforms are produced locally by Denel Land Systems (DLS) and its sub-contractors. Turrets and weapon systems are locally developed and manufactured by DLS as prime contractor.

The development phase, according to Armscor, was to be completed as far back as May 2012. That has not yet happened and the expected new completion date is December 2023.

The report continues with a sombre overview pointing out, among others on the Ratel replacement, its successor had not reached product baseline establishment by the end of the reporting period, failing two rounds of performance tests.

“Turret, vehicle platform and level system development activities for the fire support, command, mortar and missile variants are late due to Denel prioritising completion of the section variant development. The industrialisation of vehicle assembly at Denel Vehicle Systems (DVS) has not shown any significant progress since the previous reporting period, due mainly to parts shortages as a result of non-payment of suppliers.

“Delivery of the first battalion of 88 vehicles was contractually scheduled to be completed by May 2019. This date was not achieved due to delays in development and the industrialisation process. The latest indicated delivery date for the first battalion is December 2024.”