DoD outlines equipment acquisition plans
The South African Department of Defence (DoD) aims to acquire medium and light transport aircraft, infantry combat vehicles, mobile water provisioning systems, logistics vehicles, air-to-air missiles and inshore and offshore patrol vessels over the coming years. This is according to its 2017 Annual Performance Plan, which states that “efforts to maintain and modernise defence capabilities are set to increase spending on departmental agencies and accounts by 12.8 per cent, or R2.7 billion, over the medium term.” Over the medium term, the DoD plans to replace its infantry combat vehicles, under Project Hoefyster for new Badger vehicles; develop a modern command-and-control capability; mobile water-provisioning system, and new “geographic systems”. This is reflected in the projected increase in expenditure of 9.5 per cent, or R1.9 billion in the Infantry Capability sub-programme and 15.1 per cent, or R248 million in the Artillery Capability sub-programme over the medium term, both in the Landward Defence programme. The Landward Defence budget will rise from R16.550 billion in 2017/18 to R17.134 billion in 2018/19 and R18.160 billion in 2019/20. This compares to R15.557 billion in 2016/17. To replace much of the Samil fleet, the DoD aims to acquire the locally built multipurpose support vehicle Africa Truck, developed by Denel Vehicle Systems. Noting that it is a registered project, the Annual Performance Plan stated the DoD will see a prototype being produced in the 2017/18 financial year and the project being funded for production in the 2018/19 financial year.
Spending in the Air Defence programme in the 2019/20 financial year will go up by 20 per cent, or R1.4 billion, and will cover the acquisition of medium and light transport aircraft in the Transport and Maritime Capability sub-programme, and precision-guided air force ammunition (the Denel Dynamics A-Darter air-to-air missile) and new-generation mobile communication capability in the Command and Control Capability sub-programme. According to the Annual Performance Plan, Air Defence spending will increase from R6.628 billion in 2017/18 to R7.145 billion in 2018/19 and R8.572 billion in 2019/20. The Department of Defence has “reprioritised the planned acquisition of a hydrographic vessel to the FY2017/18 and the acquisition of offshore patrol vessels to the FY2018/19. This is expected to increase spending in the Maritime Combat Capability sub-programme in the Maritime Defence programme in those years.” Maritime Defence spending will increase from R4.790 billion in 2017/18 to R4.893 billion in 2018/19 but then drop to R4.482 billion in 2019/20, almost the same as 2016/17. The Military Health Support section of the SANDF will also get a slight budget boost, going from R4.586 billion in 2017/18 to R4.905 billion in 2018/19 and R5.371 billion in 2019/20. The Department of Defence stated that, over the medium term, it plans to maintain a health support capability of five medical battalion groups, including one specialist group for deployed and contingency forces; and a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary military health service to a projected patient population of 302 000 people per year. “The department has reprioritised R951.6 million from spending on goods and services to provide for comprehensive health care to members of the SANDF, their dependants and retired military personnel. These funds are expected to cover the increasing costs of essential medicine and medical supplies in the Military Health Support programme over the medium term.” Although not mentioned in the Annual Performance Plan, the SANDF is also replacing its heavyweight torpedo capability, and Armscor has issued a tender in this regard.