Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-07-23 Reporter: Sapa

Denel to Go Great Guns in US With Apartheid Ban Lifted



Business Day

Date 2004-07-23



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On Wednesday, the US lifted trade restrictions on South African defence companies.

This brought finality to a protracted dispute stemming from illegal apartheid era weapons trade.

Denel has teamed with US company General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) to develop a long-range, lightweight 105mm gun for the huge US market.

"It should be recalled that the debarment was suspended in 1998, following an extensive US state department audit of Denel's compliance programme," a spokesman for Denel said yesterday.

"Since then, the US has approved commercial transactions on a case-by-case basis."

The company said the US announcement "recognises Denel's status as a responsible player in the global defence market with a world-class compliance programme".

Denel said it had enjoyed constructive and "forwardlooking interaction" with the US state department.

Denel, the defence department's Armscor acquisitions agency, and private fuse maker Fuchs paid a $625m fine in 2000 in admission of illegal sanctions-busting in the '80s.

Denel and GDLS have combined the 105mm gun howitzer in its self-propelled (SP) form with a Denel turret and a light armoured vehicle hull.

They hope to supply the system to the US Army for use with its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

Stryker Brigade Combat Teams is a 3500 personnel formation that puts infantry, armour and artillery in versions of the same 8x8 light armoured vehicle.

The US currently plans six of these brigades, each of which will have one artillery battalion with about 18 guns.

A towed version could be offered to the US marine corps' and army's light divisions which could require hundreds.

The SP system underwent firing tests in the US in April where it outranged and outperformed all current American 155mm 39-calibre systems.

The combination, which weighs 17,8 metric tons, fits inside a C130 transport and needs no adaptation before entering the aircraft.

The turret and gun is entirely proprietary to Denel, using only South African technology.

At sea level, it can fire projectiles as far as 36km.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Business Day.