Looking for previously owned arms? Armscor may have a bargain for you! The South African Department of Defence’s (DOD) acquisitions (and disposals) agency is currently assisting the SA National Defence Force in selling excess or redundant stock.
Judging by testimony at a recent Parliamentary hearing on excess stock management within the DOD, this could be the biggest spring cleaning since the end of World War Two.
The SANDF has 171 separate disposal plans for the present 2003/4 financial year, with a total monetary value of R4.312-billion. In a recent briefing to Parliament, DOD planners broke this down as:
n SA Army: 31 plans, R2.445-nillion.
n SA Air Force: 98 plans, R1.695-billion.
n SA Navy: 34 plans, R643.2-million.
n SA Military Health Services: Eight plans, R29.229-million.
Stock worth R5.1-million had been auctioned and stock worth a further R4.9-million had been put out to tender. In addition, 2,839 metric tons of ammunition, with a value of R90.45-million had been donated to Namibia. Armscor had chalked up 102 stock sales transactions with a value of R155-million, and transfers of Category 1 equipment to the value of R325-million.
Assets to be disposed of will be placed in a special Armscor-managed disposal account, created last year. The equipment will also be transferrred from the SANDF to an Armscor managed disposal facility, “which will normally be part of a DOD facility made available to Armscor for the purpose,” a report tabled by the planners said. Sites already identified include part of the Main Ordnance Depot at Walmanstahl where approximately 2,300 vehicles with a total ledger value of more than R317-million is currently in the process of being transferred to Armscor and 10 Air Depot at Thaba Tshwane where various aircraft types of spares with a total ledger value of more than R8-million are about to be transferred. In the past, items on disposal remained on the DOD’s inventory and was physically kept in stock for virtually as long as it took Armscor to market and sell the disposed materiel. “For various reasons the marketing of many of these items took very long or no success was achieved in selling it, with the consequence that the excessive stock levels of the department did not decrease according to expectations,” the briefers told MPs.
The Auditor-General (AG) reported in 1997 that the SANDF had excess stocks and stores worth R70-billion (about US10-billion). In October 1998 Parliament’s financial watcthdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) ordered the AG to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the stockholdings of the SANDF with special reference to the:
n value of stock levels held by stock category;
n average days turnover of stock held by stock category; and
n re-order levels of stock by stock category,
with a view to establishing minimum stock levels for employment by the SANDF.
Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Defence (PCOD) on steps taken to implement the AG’s recommendations, the DOD officials first sought to explain how the booty had built up. Factors cited in a report tabled to MPs included weapon and equipment stockpiling that took place during the arms embargo era when apartheid South Africa had to follow an almost Soviet approach in hoarding even obsolete equipment. Afterwards followed a period of transformation where units were being closed down and amalgamated, bringing about further excess stock levels. Since force design had not been — and
still (!) has not been — finalised, no guide to determine suitable stock level was immediately available.
The DOD officials explained that the Chief Joint Support, Lt Gen TT Matanzima, arranged meetings with all stakeholders to discuss the process for the disposal of equipment. “During the meetings the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce stock by all were discussed,” MPs were told. In terms of this the four Services are responsible to determine their own minimum stock levels according to their respective force designs. Constant management of material by the various Product System Managers ensures that location, stock levels, administration and disposal items are handled on a day-to-day basis. “Although this function is working the optimum effectiveness has still to be obtained,” the DOD briefers said. Within the staff divisions, stakeholders were required to draw up plans as to how stock levels would be reduced. These plans were then forwarded to the Chief Logistics, who is responsible for monitoring compliance. Excess stock is then transferred to Armscor for disposal against a commission.
The briefers told MPs a number of problems had been encountered in the disposal process, most notably what to do with surplus ammunition. “The problem is as follows: Presently there is 141,000 tons of ammunition to be disposed of. The average age of the ammunition is seventeen years and is outside of the manufacturer`s warranty, thereby causing an unsafe situation. Of the above ammunition, 67,000 tons is expired, obsolete, redundant, re-workable, or unserviceable.” On a positive note, they added that the defence-related industry had been requested for proposals for the establishing of a Ammunition Disposal Plant. While conventional disposal would take 34 years, with the disposal plant this period dropped to seven to eight years. In addition, the disposal took place in an environmentally sound manner.
A general obstacle to disposals was also the requirement of buyers to register with the National
Conventional Arms Control Committee, “which lengthens the process.”
Turning to the Services, the briefers told MPs the situation was as follows:
In the report tabled in Parliament, defence planners said “the SA Army’s only approved force structure is that of the transitional force design. Until such time as the affordable structure is approved no responsible
down scaling can be done of any serviceable equipment.” For this reason only obsolete and beyond economical repair equipment to the book value of RB 2.445 has been programmed for disposal, the report said.
Army disposals include:
n Combat Vehicle Systems
- Complete Olifant Mk1A MBT: 12
- Complete Ratel Mk2 infantry combat vehicles: 98
- Complete Rooikat Mk1 armoured cars: 6
- Rooikat PPm`s: 28
- Eland armoured car 90mm gun barrels: 80
- Olifant main battle tank (MBT) 84mm (17 pounder) gun barrels: 98
n Infantry Systems
- R4 Assault Rigle Magazines 12 round: 19,649
- R4 Assault Rifle Magazines 30 round: 85,418
- R4 Assault Rifle Magazines 50 round: 28,980.
- Ram-air parachutes: 2,000.
- Round personnel parachutes: 1,500.
n Artillery Systems
- Complete G1 87mm (25 pounder) gun-howitzers and various spares: no numbers given
- Complete G2 140mm (5.5 inch) field guns: no numbers given
- Complete 84mm (17 pounder) anti-tank guns: no numbers given
- Complete 120mm mortars: no numbers given
- 127mm Visarend multiple rocket launcher systems: no numbers given
n Air Defence Artillery
- Complete guns, 35mm (Mkl, Mk2 and Mk3): 100.
- Power supply units (Mkl, Mk2 and Mk3): 147.
- FSU Radar: 64.
- FCU PSU: 99.
- Suro Simulator.
- Complete 2Omm AA GA2 towed guns: 117.
- SAMIL 20 prime movers: 85.
- Complete 14.5mm GAZPU-2 and spare barrels: 117.
- Radar set EL/M2106: no numbers given.
- Complete 23mm ZU23 guns: no numbers given.
n Clothing and General Commodities
- Various insignia.
- Cadet Corps clothing.
- Finance Corps badges.
- Obsolete Service Dress.
- Obsolete womens uniform
- SAMIL trucks and spares.
Problems experienced: Due to personnel shortages, milestone dates cannot always be adhered to.
Future Intent: As soon as the “Affordable Force Design” has been approved by the Minister of Defence, the SA army will determine surpluses and initiate a second major wave of disposal.
SA Air Force
The planners said the Air Force’s disposal plan was being driven by three imperatives: Firstly, by SCOPA’s requirement to reduce their large inventory of excess and redundant materiel, secondly by National Treasury Regulations, which stipulate that current inventory holdings should be kept at optimum and economic levels and lastly by the possibility of accruing revenue from sales. “The latter aspect is of vital importance in bridging shortages in under-funded areas of the Defence budget, both in acquisition programs and in retaining the system integrity of operational systems currently in service,” their report said.
The current situation was that their disposal plan was being preceded by a “phase-out plan” compiled by the various “system directors”. This plan indicated when equipment currently in service would be destined for withdrawal from service and disposal.
Air Force disposals include:
n Impala Mk I and II aircraft: 38 aircraft, of which 11 were placed on tender in March 2003.
n Mirage F1 aircraft. 21 aircraft including spare parts. Gabon has indicated an interest in acquiring six of these aircraft, but no finality has been reached on the matter as yet.
n Cheetah C and D Aircraft. Three Cheetah dual-seat and seventeen single seat aircraft are on disposal. Brazil has indicated an interest in acquiring fourteen of these aircraft, but their decision is still pending a comprehensive evaluation of the aircraft.
n Alouette Ill Helicopters. Three rotorcraft plus seven stripped-down airframes. The latter seven airframes were placed on tender in March 2003, but have yet to be allocated due to regulatory delays at the National Conventional Arms Control Committee.
n Boeing 707 Aircraft. Two Boeing 707 aircraft in an unserviceable condition with spare parts are planned for disposal, and a Spanish company has registered an interest in acquiring both these aircraft. Preliminary discussions have been held in order to examine ways of returning the aircraft to a flying condition in order for the sale to proceed. Armscor is now reportedly “furthering the matter.”
n C-47TP Dakota aircraft. “Two aircraft and one aircraft fuselage, the former two having been recently sold with the finalisation of the sale administration still pending,” the report said.
n Other. A large variety of spares, engines, armament and tools are contained in 40 disposal plans. The contents of eleven of these plans were placed on tender in March 2003 and were still awaiting finalisation.
In its report, the SA Navy said its disposal plan, which was coupled to milestones indicating start/end dates, values and percentage progress made, was derived from a master phasing-out plan of weapon systems that was. like the SAAF, compiled and managed by the various system and commodity managers. “Apart from the weapon systems (Category 1 items), attention is also given to dispose of commercial off the shelf items (Category 2 items) presently lying in the depots,” Navy planners told
Navy disposals include:
n Clearing the depots:
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Improvised Explosive Device Disposal equipment.
- Mk44 Torpedoes.
- Non-operational small arms.
- R4 assault rifle accessories.
- Bofors 40/60 40mm anti-aircraft gun systems.
- Gun Mountings 40/60 Mk5.
- 2Omm guns and mountings.
n Ton-class Minesweepers.
· The former SAS Kimberley and SAS Windhoek had been scrapped and broken up by SA Metal and Machinery Co (Pty) Ltd.
· The former SAS East London and SAS Walvisbaai have been sold to an international company for a film being produced about Jacques Cousteau’s ship (the Calypso), herself a former Ton-class sweeper.
· The influence sweep Ggar has been handed over the Logistics Support Formation for the necessary disposal process by means of a tender through Armscor.
· The inventory for the minesweepers is still being processed and the
completion date for hand-over to the Log Support formation for disposal
is 26 March 2004, the planners said in their report.
n Warrior Class Strike Craft.
· The following Strike Craft have been handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for the necessary disposal process by means of a tender through Armscor:
· The former SAS Jan Smuts
· The former SAS Shaka
· The former SAS Sekukhuni
· The following Strike Craft will be handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for the necessary disposal process by means of a tender through Armscor on the dates indicated:
· SAS Rene Sethren: September 16, 2009.
· SAS Adam Kok: May 11, 2005
· SAS Isaac Dyobha: July 7,2006
· SAS Galeshewe: June 5, 2009
· SAS Job Masego: June 5, 2009
· SAS Makhanda: June 5, 2009
· The inventory for the Strike Craft will be handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal on December 11, 2009.
n Daphne-class Submarines.
· The former SAS Spear: Sold as scrap to SA Metal and Machinery Co (Pty) Ltd who has since demolished her.
· SAS Umkhonto and SAS Assegaai will be handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal by means of tender through Armscor on May 13, 2004, and May 11, 2004, respectively.
· The inventory and the weapons (torpedoes) for the submarines will be handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal on May 14, 2004.
n Support Ships.
· The Diving Support and Torpedo Recovery Vessel SAS Fleur has been taken out of commission, and will be handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal by meamns of tender through Armscor on March 12, 2004.
· Small Boats. The following vessels have been disposed of or are in the process of being prepared for disposal:
· Harbour Patrol Boats (HPB’s). Two HPB’s have been donated to the Namibian Defence Force and arrangements are being made to hand over the other two HPB’s to the Mozambican Defence Force.
· Deutsche Schlauchbote (DSB’s). These inflatable sea boats will be handed over to the Log Support Formation for disposal on 28 November 2003.
· Ferry “Malgoga”. Was handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal on August 29, 2003.
· Delta boats (Quantity: 6) Handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal on August 29, 2003.
· Vredenburg boats (Quantity: 4) Handed over to the Logistic Support Formation for disposal on September 18, 2003.
SA Military Health Services
In its report, the SAMHS said there seemed as if there was a slump in the progress once disposal schedules were handed to Logistic Support Formation. “Regarding the disposal of pharmaceuticals and Medical B-Class items, Chief Logistics (C LOG) was engaged and he concurred that the disposal of these items should be handled primarily within the SAMHS. C LOG had written a letter to the Secretary of Defence authorising that such a delegation is issued to the Surgeon General. No such delegation has been issued up to now. It must be mentioned that the disposal of specifically pharmaceuticals presents a high risk as mentioned in the Auditor-General’s reports,” their report read. .
SAMHS disposals include:
n Nutria (old-style brown) Material: R985,795.
n Nutria (old-style brown) Uniforms: R6.2-million.
n Vehicles: R729,151.
n Signals Equipment: Value still being ascertained.
n Rinkhals armoured ambulances: R19.8-million.
n Unarmoured ambulances: R1.33-million. Mozambique has asked for some to be donated.
n “B” and “D” vehicles: Value still being ascertained.
n Old-style SAMHS rank insignia: R178,000
Problems being experienced includes a lack of and shortage of knowledgeable personnel to execute disposal plans within the SAMHS, coupled to a lack of and shortage of knowledgeable personnel to identify and value the relevant equipment.