Solutions for homeland security

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As main sponsor for the well-attended one-day Homeland Security Africa conference recently, Hensoldt Optronics leveraged the event to strengthen its new identity.

As its managing director Jan Wessels explained, the optronics business in South Africa traces its roots to 1978 when the business was established by Armscor to develop missile, inertial navigation and optronic technology for the country. Today Hensoldt Optronics as a substantial local subsidiary of the Germany-based company aims to be a solutions provider. It operates with 600 employees and has joint ventures with the state-owned Denel Group, as well as with GEW – itself a supplier of integrated solutions, and with Kunene Finance Company.

“Hensoldt has ambitious goals, we want to double our revenues in the next five years and drive the consolidation of the defence and security industry from a position of strength,” Wessels stated. “The business here in South Africa will contribute to these goals and leverage its unique skills.”

He believed it could be accomplished by growing its current industrial base and the related business in South Africa through mergers and acquisitions, as well as strategic partnerships.

“We want to leverage South Africa as a major industrial base to supply the African and BRICS markets, as well as an additional gateway to the Middle East,” he said.

Wessels noted that the South African defence industry in general managed over the years to function profitably despite a very small “home market” order book. With its markets mainly in the developing world, with their own peculiarities, three key prerequisites exist to grow sustainably:

These are better training of employees, more support from the South African customer, for example to drive export campaigns, and more foreign investment funding by international partners, along with better cooperation with them.

According to Wessels, the homeland security market is an important element of Hensoldt’s overall growth strategy and of the South African business in particular. The creation of a dedicated Security Solutions product line will offer transversal solutions across the entire Hensoldt portfolio. Some of the examples he highlighted included solutions for border protection, law enforcement, special forces and critically, also against cyber threats.

“We are entering into uncharted waters as regards both hardware and software, and we are working on a solution to make our own products and the systems of our customers ‘unhackable'”, he affirmed.

The 400 delegates from armed forces, procurement authorities, government entities and industry had an opportunity to view the Hensoldt products and solutions on an exhibition stand. Company representatives were on hand to give more insight into our product offering.