SANDF strengthening BRICS’ military side


The Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Solly Shoke is in Russia as head of a delegation of both military and defence industry representatives ahead of the month-end BRICS Summit in Durban.

Shoke arrived in Moscow today and follows on the heels of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who visited the country last month. She met with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister and the Deputy Defence Minister as a precursor to the Durban BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) gathering. Indications are she will also visit India before the Summit starts.

Shoke’s visit will explore military to military technical co-operation, including the exchange of students and instructors, as well as military courses and information. This follows an undertaking by the Minister that defence training between the two countries would enjoy a higher level of priority in future.

While Shoke and uniformed members of the South African delegation met with their Russian counterparts, the defence industry delegation was looking at more collaboration with the Russian defence manufacturing sector.

State-owned defence industry conglomerate Denel is the first South African company to become actively involved with the Russian defence sector. At last year’s Aerospace Africa and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof it announced maintenance, repair and overhaul agreements with Russian Helicopters and aircraft manufacturer Antonov.

SANDF communications head Siphiwe Dlamini said the Russian visit and its “important talks” are expected to be followed by a defence seminar on the side of the March 26 and 27 BRICS Summit in Durban. Indications are a number of local defence companies will exhibit products and services at the Durban International Convention Centre as part of the defence seminar.

Earlier this month another South African delegation, this one led by SA Air Force Chief Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang, was in Brazil strengthening the BRICS agenda as well as increasing co-operation between the two countries’ militaries. Local defence industry representatives on that delegation also met with their Brazilian counterparts to find potential areas of co-operation.

Brazil and South Africa are jointly developing the A-Darter fifth generation short-range infrared guided air-to-air missile. This will enter production next year and be integrated onto Brazilian and South African aircraft, including the Hawk, Gripen and F-5.