South Africa’s Paramount Group has signed a joint venture with the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) International Golden Group (IGG). The companies, in a joint release at IDEX, the Middle East’s largest defence technology exhibition, now underway, say the move will bolster the SA firm’s presence in the Arabian Gulf region.
The deal was signed in response to increasing interest in Paramount’s IED [improvised explosive device] and mine protected armoured vehicles from the Gulf states, the statement adds. “IGG, with its established international reputation in the introduction of key equipment to the Middle East, will market and distribute Paramount vehicles – including its new revolutionary Paramount Low Profile Vehicle (PLPV) – in the region. The PLPV was launched recently under the name ‘Mbombe’ and IDEX 2011 will be the first time it has been seen outside Africa,” the companies say.
The PLPV, on display at the IGG stand, was designed, developed and built in less than a year at Paramount’s Innovation Centre in Midrand. It made its debut at the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2010 show in Cape Town in September last year. It is currently undergoing its mobility trials. According to Paramount, Mbombe was designed for use across the full military spectrum, ranging from peacekeeping, peace enforcement, counter insurgency operations and conventional manoeuvre warfare. The first version of the Mbombe is in the IFV configuration, and in addition to the commander, gunner and driver, can carry up to eight dismounts. The design is such that it can be adapted for a wide range of battlefield roles and missions with no alteration. Projected variants include a baseline armour personnel carrier, an ambulance and a command post vehicle.
The partnership will focus initially on the market in the UAE. Announcing the joint venture, Ivor Ichikowitz, Paramount’s executive chairman, said: “Our partnership with IGG continues the revolution in armoured vehicle technology and design for which South Africa is world-renowned. By bringing our vehicles to the Middle East, IGG will be presenting one of the world’s most sophisticated defence purchasing markets with the very pinnacle of new technology and design in armoured vehicles.
“Our vehicles are designed, constructed and proven in some of the world’s harshest terrain, very much with the Middle East in mind. Now with IGG we have a superb opportunity to work with the UAE’s acknowledged armoured vehicle experts to build a strong and deep relationship. Bringing Paramount’s systems to the Middle East in partnership with IGG very much reflects the realities of current global politics which are driving armed forces and governments to plan for future conflict by sourcing new generations of vehicles to answer the changing threats they face.”
Paramount already has in place manufacturing partnerships with Ashok Leyland in India and to produce Matador and Marauder MPVs in Azerbaijan in partnership with the country’s Ministry of Defence Industries. In the medium term the UAE joint venture will be founded on shared technology and the strengthening of economic and political ties between South Africa and the UAE, the two companies say. In the longer term it calls for the establishment of manufacturing bases in the UAE to serve the Middle East and Asian markets.
Fadil Saif Al Kaabi, CE of IGG added that the deal “marks another milestone in the growth path of IGG This technology partnership makes perfect sense for us as a key player in the Middle East defence sector. Paramount’s recent technological advancements in mine- and IED-protection for armoured vehicles represent a huge leap forward in the solutions available to tackle the changing threat in the region. We look forward to a successful partnership with Paramount built on the established mutual understanding and appreciation between our two nations.” IGG was founded in 2002 and serves the UAE Armed Forces, the nation’s Ministry of Interior and the Critical National Infrastructure Authority.
The Paramount tie-up is the second involving IGG and a South African company. In 2007, defence companies Denel and IST Dynamics, the latter now part of BAE Systems, teamed up with IGG to develop the unmanned armed long-range reconnaissance turret (ALRRT). The turret featured the Denel Dynamics Ingwe long-range anti-armour missiles with weapon management system supplied by IST Dynamics.