Boost for Defence Industry
South Africa's defence-related industry has received a major boost with the announcement of a multi-million-rand deal involving the sale of nearly 400 armoured vehicles to Europe.
South Africa's armoured and peacekeeping vehicle manufacturer, Alvis OMC, which is based in Gauteng, is to export its latest prototypes, the RG-32M Mine-Hardened Specialist Patrol vehicle and the RG-12 Public Order vehicle, to Sweden and Italy.
The deal is part of an off-set from South Africa's multi-billion rand arms procurement package which involves the purchase of the Swedish Gripen Fighter Jet and British Hawk Trainer jet, four German corvettes and three German submarines.
To date, three of the four corvettes have been delivered to South Africa.
Monday's announcement came less than a month after Alvis OMC and the Swedish Defence Force procurement agency signed a contract for two RG-32M vehicles, with an option to purchase up to 200 vehicles at any time.
Alvis entered into a contract with Italy's Carabinieri and State Police, in partnership with Italy's Iveco Defence Vehicles Division (DVD), two weeks after the deal with Sweden to supply the specialised RG-12 public order vehicle.
Alvis OMC and Iveco DVD are to supply the first batch of six RG-12 vehicles for delivery in September and December, with another 150 vehicles for the Carabinieri and 50 vehicles for the Italian police in 2005.
Alvis OMC engineering manager Gert Pretorius said the company's success in the European market with the RG-32M and the RG-12 reflected the quality design of South African products, which were now of international standard.
Speaking on behalf of Alvis OMC, Verity Lloyd said the orders were to be carried out over a three to four-year period.
She said an extensive "winterisation" programme was applied to the RG-32M to bring it in line with Swedish climate conditions and included modifying the heating and insulation systems for both engine and crew.
Lloyd said Iveco would provide a variety of engine components and support to the vehicles once they were being used.
Len le Roux, of the Institute for Security Studies Defence Sector Programme, said these types of deals were extremely encouraging as they were evidence that the defence-related industry, which was in a serious crisis before the signing of the procurement package, was having new life breathed into it.
"It also shows that the spin-offs from the procurement package are beginning to materialise which is a positive sign for the whole industry," he said.
With acknowledgements to Graeme Hoskin and the Pretoria News.