With the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed at long last on documentation for the SA Army’s new infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), Denel Land Systems (DLS) will now start work in earnest on industrialisation of the Badger, with the first unit expected off the production line by August 2015.
Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube said this week’s announcement of a production order for the Badger (Project Hoefyster) was “a significant chapter in the history of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in that it provides for a much-needed capability for troops involved in critical peacekeeping operations in African countries”.
DLS chief executive Stephan Burger said the way was now clear to go ahead with full industrialisation of the IFV that will replace the long-serving Ratel.
“We are busy developing processes and testing to the client’s requirements on all five variants of the Badger,” he told defenceWeb.
“All told it will be an 18 month to two year process and only then will the first unit come off our production line.”
Burger said there would be ongoing interaction between the SA Army and DLS during the production phase to ensure all requirements were met.
“Development strategies can and probably will be reviewed and these will see improvements, all to the client’s benefit.”
The production order is for 264 vehicles to be produced over a 10 year period with a value of R8 billion to DLS and its parent, the Denel Group.
Initial development of the vehicle platform was done by Finnish contractor, Patria, following a 2007 Armscor/Denel contract for the development of an IFV to replace the ageing Ratel.
Manufacturing of actual production units will be done in South Africa, enhancing DLS’ vehicle design, manufacture and support capability.
All told the Badger will have a local content factor in excess of 70% designed and customised to meet the demanding requirements of African deployments.
Armscor acting chief executive Sipho Mkwanazi said Badger production will have “significant benefits” for both the South African military and the local defence industry.
“This will include further development of the platform and with the stringent conditions set for local content and supplier development we see further development of the local manufacturing sector.”
Badger production is expected to create an extra 2 000 jobs during its 10 year production cycle.