Given the overall lack of budget, there is little money available for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for capital acquisition. However, there are some big and small projects currently underway, to acquire things from infantry fighting vehicles to field kitchens.
The South African Army’s Air Defence Artillery Formation is overhauling its air defences through the Ground Base Air Defence System (GBADS), which has been divided into three components. Phase one (Project Guardian) saw the Army receive the Starstreak short range air defence missile system in 2014 to complement its 23 and 35 mm guns, and received upgraded ESR 220 Thutlwa mobile battery fire control posts, which provide 120 km range radar coverage.
The next phase (Protector) is seeing the upgrade of the Oerlikon 35 mm cannons to Mk VII standard with the Skyshield fire control system in collaboration with Rheinmetall Air Defence. Currently work is focused on integrating new radios (Project Radiate) and communications systems and other improvements. The next phase (Outcome) is underway to integrate the Umkhonto missile system into GBADS. Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime is working with Denel Dynamics and other partners on this.
All four branches of the South African National Defence Force are receiving new digital tactical communications equipment for complete interoperability between services under Project Radiate. Initial production orders for the complete system were placed with Reutech in the 2014/15 financial year and the first production equipment was due for delivery in the first quarter of 2016. Various components include HF, V/UHF, short range and intra platform communication systems.
To partially replace the Ratel fleet, Project Hoefyster will see the South African army take delivery of 242 Badger infantry fighting vehicles in a number of different variants over the next decade. A contract was placed with Denel Land Systems in 2013 for service entry by 2022. The Badger is a modified version of the Patria 8x8 vehicle fitted with a flat bottom mine resistant floor and other changes. 21 vehicles will be sourced from Patria while the remaining 221 are to be completely manufactured in South Africa. Industrialisation should be completed by early 2017.
The Badger is being produced in nine different variants including a mortar version with a 60 mm breech-loading mortar, an Ingwe missile variant, section variant, signal variant, ambulance variant, command variant, fire support variant, and artillery variant. The section and fire support variants will be equipped with the 30 mm (30x173 mm) GI-30 cannon locally developed by Denel Land Systems.
The South African Army aimed to replace some of its 10 000 soft skinned vehicles, particularly the Samil logistics vehicles, under Project Vistula, but it appears this has been indefinitely postponed.
Partial replacement of the Casspir and Mamba armoured vehicle fleets was planned under Project Sapula but it appears this too has been indefinitely postponed. Instead the SANDF is refurbishing its existing fleets.
The South African Army is replacing some of its ageing engineer earthmoving and construction equipment under this project. New vehicles are due for delivery in 2016.
This project is for new fire trucks for the South African Air Force. Phase one saw existing vehicles upgraded and new vehicles acquired under phase two.
This is for the acquisition of a new generation hand-held mine detector. Some contracts have been awarded to Med-Eng and other companies.
Project Teamster is to replace the mobile field kitchen capability of the SANDF, with field kitchens to enter service by 2017/18. Gas-fired stoves are being replaced by diesel fired units. OTT Solutions and Desert Wolf were awarded the first phase of Teamster, for 15 person field cooking units, in early 2016.
This is for new water purification systems, which should be commissioned in 2019. Blesbok and Teamster are believed to be part of Project Swatch, the development and acquisition of mobile camping systems.
The South African Air Force was seeking maritime patrol/surveillance aircraft under Project Metsi and light transport aircraft under Project Kiepie to replace its C-47TPs and C212s respectively (these projects evolved from Project Saucepan) but the 2016/17 defence budget vote made no mention of new aircraft and the SAAF budget is almost unchanged for the next several years.
The South African Air Force is getting the Denel Dynamics A-Darter fifth generation air-to-air missile under Project Assegaai, which will replace the interim Diehl Defence IRIS-T short range missile. An order for the 20 kilometre range A-Darter was placed in March 2015, with deliveries of operational missiles scheduled for 2017. Both South African Gripens and Hawk Mk 120s are being fitted with the missile while Brazil, which is a partner in development, may also acquire the weapon for its Gripen E/Fs.
This project aims to replace some mobile and fixed air defence radars operated by the South Africa Air Force. Additional funding has been allocated for this in the 2018/19 financial year.
The fleet of 39 surviving Denel Aviation Oryx transport helicopters this year concluded a mid-life upgrade initiated in 2006 under Project Drummer to keep them flying until the 2020s. This involved upgrading things like avionics and communications, amongst others.
The Navy’s four Meko A200 Valour class frigates will receive a mid-life upgrade under Project Syne from 2017-18. Work will take place over a decade to extend the vessels’ service lives beyond 2035.
The hydrographic survey vessel SAS Protea will be replaced by 2019/20 under Project Hotel. Tender submissions closed in June 2015 and are being evaluated by Armscor. In addition to the hydrographic vessel, the successful bidder will also supply two inshore survey motorboats and a sea boat.
Three inshore and three offshore patrol vessels will be acquired by 2024/25 under Project Biro for an estimated cost of around R6 billion. The new naval platforms will be built in a South African shipyard with 60% local content required. Armscor is currently evaluating tenders for Biro (which closed in September 2015).
Two existing tugs (De Nuys, built in 1969 and De Mist, built in 1978) were replaced with two new ATD 2909 tugs built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town under Project Canter. They were formally accepted into service in April 2016.
A variety of small boats are being acquired for the South African Navy under this project, including boarding boats, diving boats, riverine patrol boats, ship sea boats, ferries, sailing dinghies, an ocean racing yacht and associated trailers. Five boarding craft were recently delivered, in December 2015, by Nautic Africa.
The Department of Defence expects to replace the Navy’s heavyweight torpedo capability by 2022/23. It is believed the new torpedoes will be the Atlas DM2A4 Seehecht, which will replace the existing AEG SUT 264s, which were only intended as an interim weapon.
Project Itambo was under consideration by the South African Air Force to acquire a medium altitude, long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Defence Intelligence is the launch customer for the Seeker 400 UAV from Denel Dynamics, having taken delivery of their systems in 2015. It appears the South African Air Force is now attempting to acquire its own Seeker 400s and is re-establishing 10 Squadron, which used to fly UAVs.
The SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) received 20 ambulances in the 2014/15 financial year primarily for border safeguarding operations. Another 36 were due for delivery in the 2015/16 financial year.
Armscor is attempting to acquire additional VIP transport aircraft for the Presidency. In April this year it issued a tender with a closing date of 4 May for the lease of an intercontinental aircraft. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has confirming the Department is going ahead with VIP acquisition but to date it seems no contracts have been signed and the South African Air Force is leasing VIP jets as an interim solution.
Some projects that have been completed over the last decade or so include: African Warrior (upgrading R4 assault rifles); Acrobat (long range 60 mm mortars); Ambition (Gecko vehicles); Arum Lily (Rooikat upgrade); Bioskoop (radar/battery command post upgrade); Cytoon (battlefield surveillance equipment); Jury (Mamba upgrade); Kingfisher (Milan missiles); Klooster (artillery target engagement system); Pigeon (SS-77 upgrade); Ebb (C-130 upgrade); Koiler (intelligence/reconnaissance system for Cessna Caravans); and Ambition (Hornet rapid deployment vehicles for the Special Forces).