Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), General Solly Shoke, has said he is deeply concerned about the precarious financial situation at Denel, as this is impacting the delivery of equipment like the Badger infantry combat vehicle.
Speaking to defenceWeb last week, Shoke said that “Denel is a serious concern to the SANDF. Denel is a strategic partner in the defence of the Republic of South Africa. If anything goes wrong with Denel we are in trouble.”
He added that the world has shown interest in acquiring Denel equipment, with a multibillion rand order book, but that it will cost billions to keep Denel running.
“We would appreciate it if government assists Denel…they have the order book. Denel is a good entity.”
According to the Department of Defence, Denel is its biggest supplier at present, with Denel Land Systems providing the bulk of equipment. This includes mortars, auxiliary equipment for portable mine detection equipment, gyroscopic systems for artillery, G6 self-propelled howitzer upgrades and 242 Badger infantry combat vehicles. DLS is also supplying fiveT5 artillery pieces to the South African Army.
According to Shoke, the Badger programme has been delayed by 18 months. Delivery of the first batch of vehicles was previously scheduled for May 2019.
Denel Land Systems told defenceWeb that the Hoefyster project to deliver Badgers to the SA Army has been delayed due to Denel’s liquidity crisis. Denel has been struggling to pay suppliers, and one of its key component suppliers and assemblers, VR Laser, is being liquidated, meaning that production is moving to the Denel stable, with Denel Vehicle Systems to produce the hulls, Denel Land Systems to produce the turret and weapons and do integration and Land Mobility Technologies (LMT) to provide protection elements such as armour.
Denel Land Systems is in the final phase of Badger vehicle development, with the focus on the Section variant, which is furthest along. The Command and Fire Support versions will follow next, along with the Mortar and Anti-tank versions. There will also be five new variants for joint operations (the Joint Task Force), including Ambulance, Signals, Basic Artillery Observation System (BAOS), Command and Logistics. A total of 242 vehicles are to be produced.