New VIP jet and SAAF airlift not on our agenda – Armscor

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Acting Armscor chief executive Sipho Mkwanazi has told MPs that plans to acquire a VIP jet have not been handed to the State’s defence and security acquisition agency.

He was speaking during the tabling of the Armscor annual report for 2014/15 and was responding to questions from opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party shadow defence and military veterans minister, David Maynier.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula last month reminded South Africans she had received approval from the National Treasury in the previous financial year to acquire a new Presidential aircraft. She was speaking on the side of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York to which the South African delegation travelled aboard a chartered Boeing 737 due to the unavailability of Inkwazi, the Presidential 737 operated by 21 Squadron.

According to the SA Press Association, Maynier wanted to know from the man who has been acting Armscor chief executive for the past five years what the status of the VIP aircraft acquisition was because there was no mention of it in the latest Armscor annual report, tabled yesterday.

Maynier said this project, as well as the acquisition of new transport aircraft for the SA Air Force (SAAF) and the purchase of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were all “high level” ones not mentioned in the report.

Mkwanazi told Parliament’s Defence Portfolio Committee none of these projects had yet been handed to the acquisition agency. According to him Armscor was currently only busy with the Department of Defence’s requirement for offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the SA Navy.
“What has been mentioned,” Mkwanazi said in response to Maynier’s question, “are not projects already with Armscor, with the exception of the offshore and inshore patrol vessels in terms of project requirements”.
“The others mentioned, for instance the VIP jet, is not yet with us. And the UAV project, I’m not sure whether it’s with Armscor or not. The transport aircraft – it’s also not with us,” he is quoted as saying.

Projects come to Armscor once the Department of Defence has finalised its requirements.
“Then Armscor starts working on that project based on finalised requirements. The one that has been finalised by the Department of Defence is the offshore and inshore patrol boats.”

He could not give an indication of the budget because this would be determined by industry response to the request for offer (RfO).

Earlier this week defenceWeb reported on a bid conference held in Simon’s Town as part of the overall acquisition process for a new hydrographic vessel for the SA Navy. The conference, attended by representatives from 12 shipyards, heard the successful bidder will also supply ancillary equipment in the form of motor boats, a sea boat and an upgrade to shore-based hydrographic equipment and offices at Silvermine.

Armscor is also currently overseeing manufacture of the SA Army’s new Badger infantry fighting vehicles, where Denel Land Systems is the main contractor.