Denel & Patria Building South Africa’s Next IFV
DID has covered a number of contracts for wheeled armored personnel carriers; in Europe, the 3 perennial combatants are GD-MOWAG’s Piranha/LAV, GD-Steyr’s Pandur II, and Patria’s Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV). Now Denel Land Systems has announced a contract from the South African government’s Armscor procurement agency to develop the South African Army’s new generation infantry combat vehicle. The “Hoefyster” program aims to produce an 8×8 wheeled APC in the 25 ton class, designed as a family of vehicles that can be equipped with various turrets and on-board options.
The Rand 8.3 billion program for 264 vehicles involves the largest single contract Denel has landed in its 16-year history, and South African companies will deliver more than 70% of the total value of the contract. The other 30% will be delivered by Finland’s Patria Oyj, whose amphibious AMV will be Project Hoefyster’s base vehicle…
Hoefyster and the South African Army
Project Hoefyster (Afrikaans, “horseshoe”) is producing a wheeled “Badger” Infantry Fighting Vehicle for the South African National Defence Force.
The new generation infantry combat vehicle is meant to slot into the SA Army’s Vision 2020, announced earlier in 2007 by Chief of the SA Army, Lt-Gen. Solly Shoke. Within the SANDF a mechanised division, a motorized division, and a Special Operations Brigade are planned as key customers for the new infantry fighting vehicle. The new motorised division is slated for peacekeeping abroad and local security operations at home within South Africa, while the mechanized division will include a mix of South Africa’s Olifant tanks, IFVs, et. al. as the SANDF’s strike force.
South African land forces have historically used far more wheeled vehicles than tracked armor, in large part because of the suitability of their regional terrain. This focus, coupled with a security environment of guerrilla warfare with heavy use of land mines, led South African firms to develop mine-resistant wheeled vehicles over 30 years ago. South African designers pioneering the “armored wheeled v-hull” concept that has suddenly received serious attention and procurement dollars from the US military. Even today, South Africa’s mobile howitzers (the world-class G6 Rhino), armored fighting vehicle/ tank destroyer (the 28-ton, 8×8 Rooikat) and the armored personnel carrier that the new Hoefyster will partly replace (Ratel – available as the upgraded iKlwa), are all wheeled.
The name Ratel, as well as the follow-on Badger IFV, reference Africa’s Honey Badger, a smallish creature whose legend of insane toughness and ferocity is entirely deserved. Adder venom, lions, even spears – mellivora capensis doesn’t care.
The Hoefyster Program
When it announced its Slovenian APC competition win in December 2006, Patria’s release touted its AMV platform as “…first of its kind in the world with the unique level of mine protection certified by South African authorities.” The certification effort appears to be paying off.
The total contract to the consortium is R 8.3 billion. An initial R 1.048 billion order was placed in 2007 to develop a prototype of each variant, followed by 12 pre-production vehicles. During the manufacturing phase, the first 37 production vehicles will be built by Patria in Finland, then the other 227 will be produced in South Africa.
Vehicles will be built under a Patria license, and the program currently envisions 264 vehicles in 5 variants:
- Infantry Carrier, MCT 12.7mm turret
- Fire Support, MCT 30mm turret
- Command, MCT 12.7mm turret
- Mortar, MCT 60 Mortar turret
- Missile, MCT Missile turret uses the laser beam-riding, dual-warhead Ingwe anti-armor missile [PDF].
Armscor plans to place phased orders over a 10-year period as key milestones are achieved, with follow-on support work after delivery.
The Industrial Angle
As noted above, the first vehicles will be manufactured in Finland, after which the production will gradually be transferred to South Africa. Denel will be the design agency for Project Hoefyster, with responsibility for the turrets & weapons, C4ISR, and weapons system integration. Denel will also be the prime contractor, and is required to manage a supply chain with scores of local subcontractors; this will include targets for small-medium enterprises and black-owned businesses.
Patria and Denel have extensive co-operation agreements with South African and other companies, including:
- BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa – License manufacturing; Life cycle support.
- Curtiss Wright – AMCIT turret drive system, and Actuation systems for the mortar and missile launcher.
- EADS – Command and control; Self-protection system.
- Land Mobility Technologies – Adapt the vehicle to South African conditions.
- Saab Aerotech – Fire control computers.
Denel CEO Shaun Liebenberg, who had been overseeing the firm’s attempted turnaround, said:
“This Armscor contract puts Denel Land Systems on the road to sustainability. Project ‘Hoefyster’ signifies a significant acquisition programme that essentially underwrites all the pillars of Denel’s macro strategy. Not only does this large defence contract support and give a much-needed injection to local industry, but it also sustains the commercial viability of the businesses, notably Denel Land Systems. Importantly, it will drive the capability of the Denel and other local companies to operate at world-class standards and international best practice.”
As with the A-Darter missile program, Denel is looking to use Project Hoefyster as a catalyst for hiring young engineers and building up their skills base. This concept is very much part of the Deputy President’s Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) program, but unless managed carefully and/or supplemented with outside assistance, too much focus in this area can lead to project time and cost overruns.
The selection of a proven base platform (Patria’s AMV) is a good start, but SANDF’s budget is not unlimited. The implicit tug-of war between the project requirements and the political requirements requires finesse and good management on Denel’s part in order to succeed.
Contracts and Key Events
2010 – 2013
Delays, but finally a main contract; Spinoff – Malaysia buys Denel’s 30mm turret.
Nov 14/13: Sub-contract. Patria announces its sub-contract from Denel:
“Denel Land Systems and Patria have signed an agreement regarding Patria AMV 8×8 armoured wheeled vehicle serial production and delivery to South Africa. The agreement includes 238 vehicles, out of which 5 pre-series vehicles have already been delivered during the development phase. The first 16 serial vehicles will be assembled by Patria in Finland, Hameenlinna. Thereafter the assembly will be migrated to South Africa to Denel Land Systems.”
Sept 30/13: Production. Denel receives a 10-year, $900 million production contract for the 5 variants of the Hoefyster New Generation Infantry Combat System. Their release adds that:
“The recent involvement of South African troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has again emphasised the need for protective mobility on the battlefield which the Badger now provides…. The production of the Badger is expected to create about 2 000 jobs during its production period.”
The first vehicles won’t be delivered for 18-24 months. Sources: Denel release, Sept 30/13 | defenceWeb, “Badger IFV industrialisation starts in earnest with first production model expected in 2015″ | UPI, “Denel to build armored vehicles”.
May 26/13: Investigation? South Africa’s Times Live, “Military deal probe ‘waste of time’”:
“The public protector is believed to be investigating the 16-year delay in the project. Hoefyster was launched in 1997 locally and opened to international tenders in 2003. The vehicles are to arrive from next year, the last in 2023.”
In fairness, the contract was only issued in 2007. Defence Secretary Sam Gulube responds that he’s worried about the budget being insufficient, and says that:
“It is a waste of the public protector’s time and money…. I will write to her telling her the delays are because of technology research. These things do not happen overnight. It is intricate . extremely technical . she must understand…. These delays are perfectly normal . there is nothing devious…”
July 10/12: Turret export. Denel had been named as DRB-HICOM’s weapons partner when Malaysia signed its contract for 257 of BAE/NSS’ Pars 8×8 wheeled APCs in February 2011, but a formal contract took a while. Now, a R 3.5 billion/ EUR 340 million contract will provide Malaysia with 177 turrets, offering a range of weapons from 12.7mm machine guns, to 30mm cannon, to cannon and Ingwe laser beam-riding missiles.
It’s fair to say that the firm’s role in Project Hoefyster was an important precursor to this contract. Sources: DID, “PARSing Statements: Malaysia’s New Wheeled APCs” | defenseWeb, “Denel inks R3.5 billion deal with Malaysia”.
March 4/11: BAE pushes RG41 switch. A report from defenceWeb quotes BAE LSSA (OMC) Managing Director Johan Steyn pushing the firm’s locally-developed RG41 design as a drop-in substitute for Project Hoefyster. The 8×8 vehicle has its hull made up of five modular units, which can be removed and replaced individually if they’re damaged. The prefabricated replacement sections can be installed by “second line” maintenance in theater, rather than having to return to the manufacturer:
“Technology has evolved significantly in the years since Project Hoefyster was first launched. It makes sense then to look at newer solutions such as [the] RG41 now available, which largely meet the technical requirements and could provide cost savings and broader economic benefits for the country.”
The firm has spent R 25-30 million prototyping and qualifying the RG41, and unveiled both the vehicle and its lighter TRT turret in June 2010. Steyn also quotes figures of 70% in-country content and 2,000 jobs, which would match the proposed Badger IFV.
State-owned Denel responds with a reply whose defense of their performance to date amounts to: “it’s complicated.” They also point out that contract penalties are likely to wipe out any potential savings from a switch, and could leave South Africa spending more. Sources: defenceWeb, “BAE Systems punts for Hoefyster” | “BAE Systems SA unveils smart turret” | “Badger is best: Denel Land Systems“.
June 26/09: Sub-contractors. Denel Land Systems contracts Saab Aerotech in South Africa to develop and supply the Badger’s fire control computers. The initial phase of the contract covers the development and production of engineering development units, with a separate contract required for the production phase. Sources: defenceWeb, “Denel orders Saab computers for Hoefyster”.
2007 – 2008
June 16/08: Sub-contractors. Curtiss-Wright Corporation announces a $39 million phased contract from Denel Land Systems to supply drive and actuation systems for use in Hoefyster ICVs. Development of the systems is scheduled to start in 2008, with production scheduled to run from 2011 to 2018.
Curtiss-Wright’s Motion Control segment will supply the ICV’s turret drive system, as well as the actuation systems for the mortar and missile launcher. Curtiss-Wright will develop and manufacture the initial drive and actuation systems for all variants of the ICV at the company’s facility in Neuhausen, Switzerland. Manufacturing will be localized during the series production phase in support of the industrial participation programs of Armscor and the Department of Trade and Industry.
July 25/07: Denel Report. Denel’s 2007 Annual Report [PDF] adds key details regarding the “Hoefyster” development program: R8 billion (then $1.175 billion) to develop South African AMV variants, which will eventually be followed by production of 264 vehicles. Denel adds:
“[Denel Land Systems] has been developing the modular combat turret for the new combat vehicle. DLS will integrate five variants of the state-of-the-art turret on the Finnish Patria 8×8 platform. These turrets sport the DLS designed 30mm CamGun and 60mm long-range mortar system, as well as the Denel Dynamics Ingwe anti-tank missiles. As with its other developments for Project ‘Hoefyster’, DLS has also begun development of a fire control computer (FCS) to control all functions and to monitor all subsystems in the turret. All these systems have good marketing potential and offer DLS an opportunity to upgrade older turrets…. Denel and the European aeronautics and defence group (EADS) have entered into a strategic alliance on the command and control and the self-protection system for the Hoefyster programme.”
The total contract to the consortium is confirmed elsewhere at R 8.3 billion, with an initial R 1.048 billion order to develop a prototype of each variant, followed by 12 pre-production vehicles. Once a manufacturing order is placed, the first 37 production vehicles will be built by Patria in Finland, and the other 227 will be produced in South Africa.
May 28/07: Patria announces that it has signed the contract with Denel Land Systems.
May 17/07: The Hoefyster program is announced, as a partnership between Denel and Patria AMV. Denel signs the contract with South Africa’s Armscor.
Sources: Denel, “Denel Lands Biggest Contract In Its History.” Patria’s release is no longer available.
February 2005: Just 1 bid. Just 1 bid is received for the Project Hoefyster RFP #MFT/2003/564, from a consortium involving Patria of Finland. Giat (Nexter’s VBCI) and GD Mowag (Piranha V) don’t respond. GD Steyr (Pandur) and designs based on Russia’s BTR-80 aren’t solicited.
Within the bidding consortium, Patria’s AMV is the base vehicle. State-owned Denel would be the South African project lead, and provide the turrets and weapons. Land Mobility Technologies (LMT) would help with the redesign for African conditions, and BAE OMC would build the vehicle hulls. Sources: defenceWeb, “BAE Systems punts for Hoefyster”.
- Patria Oyj – AMV: Armored Modular Vehicle. Patria Oyj is 75% owned by the Finnish government, and 25% owned by EADS.
- Army Technology – Patria AMV (Armoured Modular Vehicle) 8×8 Wheeled Vehicle, Finland
- Debel Land Systems – AMCIT. Their Advanced Modular Infantry Combat Turret comes in 12.7mm, 30mm, 60mm mortar, and Anti-Tank Guided Missile variants.
- Denel Land Systems – GI 30. 30mm linkless cannon.
- GlobalSecurity.org – Ratel. Will be replaced by AMVs.
- BAE Land Systems OMC – iKlwa. Upgraded Ratel. iKlwa was the name of the Zulus’ famous short, stabbing spear, which was used in conjunction with heavy shields in a manner that resembled Greek hoplite tactics but added innovations like “horns of the bull” maneuvers.
- Patria Oyj, via WayBack (May 21/07) – Patria AMV platforms selected in South Africa
Thanks to DID’s South African readers, who pointed out that the new Hoefyster will partly replace Ratel vehicles rather than 28-ton, 8×8 Rooikats. They add that Rooikats are likely to remain in service for some time, as there are no defined plans to replace them. Our readers believe they may eventually be upgraded with a Compact Vehicle Electric Drive (CVED) hybrid electric drive system that Armscor has been working on for some years. Others see eventual replacement by an up-gunned AMV variant with the CVED installed. Time will tell.
- Military.com SoldierTech, via WayBack – ROLLING THUNDER: The Rooikat
- Army Technology – Rooikat 105 Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicles, South Africa