Anticipation for 2016 grows

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Everyone will agree that 2015 was a difficult year for the defence industry in general. With shrinking defence budgets aligned with a depreciating rand, it created a challenging environment in which many fell and few thrived. The value generated by the local defence industry must not be underestimated as a source of training, technology development, support for the South African Defence Forces, socio-economic development, job creation, and as a revenue generator (SARS likes that).

Last year was a busy year for Cybicom Atlas Defence (CAD). The company continued with its maintenance and support for the South African Navy; continued with its contracts with the South African National Space Agency; submitted complex offers for both the Biro and Hotel requests for proposals released by Armscor; signed a new contract with the Institute for Maritime Technology for its maritime domain awareness programme; and sold various simulators and stimulators to various clients, including Airbus Defence and Space Optronics.

During 2015, CAD and the CSIR upgraded CAD’s prototype Helicopter Flight Trainer to ADM/pre-production model status. This was partially funded by the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (an initiative of the DTI). The primary benefit to the South African aerospace industry is the introduction of a new manufacturer (CAD/CSIR) of locally developed simulator products. In addition, CAD has achieved the replacement of an import component with the local manufacture of the visual display cladding and mounting.

The SAN has provided industry access to the SAN Simulation Facility at the Maritime School in Simonstown for the purpose of evaluating local simulation products. CAD currently has the following items under evaluation: Instructor Work Station, Helicopter Flight Deck Trainer, Naval Bridge Simulator, CMS console and the updated Helicopter Flight Trainer.

As a testament to the strength of its technicians and engineers, CAD is now attracting work outside of SA for submarine-related services. It has also exported its first fully qualified (and locally designed and developed) submarine escape hatch signalling system to South Korea.

Turning its attention to 2016, CAD is cautiously optimistic. It will (as will many others) keep an eye on the results of the Hotel and Biro bids. There is an early indication that the export aspect of CAD’s business should grow, with interest emanating from South America and the Middle East in various products developed by CAD over the last few years. It is anticipated that the request for proposal will be issued for the replacement of the current submarine torpedoes during 2016. As the locally appointed custodian of the submarine combat system, CAD is ready to integrate and support the winner of the torpedo shootout.

Whatever the outcome of the various projects/bids, 2016 is going to be a watershed year for many in the local defence industry, and CAD looks forward to it with an abundance of nervous excitement.