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Rob King
DCD Group MD Rob King. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

DEFENCE and Military Veterans Secretary Sam Makhudu Gulube was among luminaries at the unveiling on Thursday of DCD Protected Mobility's new R100m armoured vehicle manufacturing facility in Gauteng.

A unit of the wholly South African-owned heavy engineering firm DCD Group, DCD Protected Mobility said the 36,000m² plant in Isando enabled it to service South African National Defence Force (SANDF) demand for military vehicles. It would also allow it to increase its share in global markets, of which the US was the largest.

The company had sold about 2,000 military-use vehicles over the past 18 years, mainly to overseas customers. This had brought in about R10bn in foreign revenue.

The group's armoured vehicles had won both domestic, US and Australian defence force awards.

Mr Gulube said South Africa's defence industry exported about R5bn of equipment every quarter, and was a force for socioeconomic good. It brought jobs, engineering capacity, and research and development skills to South Africa. This included the Department of Defence investing about R500m a year in research and development, along with partners Denel and Armscor, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Mr Gulube also said the department had a budget of between R6bn and R8bn a year for defence force "capitalisation", not including the operations budget.

Deployment and procurement in the SANDF was largely based on United Nations peacekeeping mandates, including land-mine clearing.

DCD Group MD Rob King said the plant could supply the SANDF using South African skills and materials, in line with the state's localisation programme. This would be in addition to DCD Protected Mobility's existing export markets, including the US Army and Marine Corps, and police and military forces in Africa, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Spain and Turkey.

Protected Mobility's factory had the latest laser-cutting technology, a hydraulic roller, metal press, saws and drills, and four state-of-the-art robotic welding machines.

Local content levels for Springbuck and Mountain Lion armoured personnel carriers (APCs), and Husky land-mine vehicles, were between 50% and 70%.

They used US, German and Brazilian engines, with DCD Protected Mobility adding value.

The Husky was the world's leading mine clearance vehicle, and along with the APCs was tested to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation standards. Many had been sold to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DCD Group developed and owned the intellectual property for the vehicle-mounted mine detector system. The group said it had established itself as a fully accredited, socially responsible international systems integration house.

Mr King said DCD Protected Mobility was positioned to become a preferred South African manufacturer for foreign, original equipment manufacturers. The firm could also support Denel, Armscor and the Department of Defence by enabling SANDF contracts to be awarded to domestic manufacturers.

He said the defence focus had been almost exclusively on exports. Since 2009, DCD Protected Mobility had created 1,300 permanent jobs, both direct and indirect. "However, the group's focus is diversifying, given the local demand expected ... from the SANDF's vehicle replacement programmes, which will be some of the biggest in the world in the next decade," Mr King said.

This article was originally posted on http://www.bdlive.co.za and can be read here.

Posted in: DCD Defence
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