After concluding a significant delivery to the US Army, local engineering giant DCD is now looking at consolidating its position within the massive G7 defence budgets.
DCD’s talk makes for a perfect fit into South Africa’s rekindled ambition to claim a bigger share of the global defence industry budget. Clustered together with Aerospace, the defence industry is identified as key in government’s reindustrialisation plan.
The South Africa bred engineering company DCD group recently concluded delivery to the US Army of its flagship defence product, the Husky Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector.
The company which was bundled out of the once gigantic Dorbyl in the early 2000s said it will now “move on to the sustainment phase extending over the Husky’s 20 year lifespan.”
DCD Protected Mobility GM Andrew Mears said the sustainment phase of the programme offers potential for continually enhancing the Husky. He added that ongoing engagement with US government provides the further benefit of considerable leverage to expand the company’s presence in the G7 markets.
Taking the Husky into the US Army was remarkable mission. While the Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector system had been deployed around the world since the 1980s, it made it into the US Army only in 2011.
DCD managing director, Rob King, explains that the US Army first expressed interest when the Husky was being used in Southern Africa and Bosnia by NATO countries including the UK and France.
“The US Army initiated a Foreign Comparative Testing programme in the mid-1990s, which saw the Husky approved for route clearance activities and subsequent deployment in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said King.
The US Army’s formal verification process was initiated in 2008 and confirmed in September 2011, when DCD started production on the current supply.
The business has huge benefited South Africa, said DCD. The US Army order has brought in R10.3 billion in foreign exchange to the South African economy and created 1 320 new local jobs.
King said the group’s Protected Mobility operation is at the forefront of protective defence vehicle manufacture internationally, and the Husky specifically has the distinction of being the only South African armoured vehicle to achieve full approval for use by the US Army and Marine Corps. “The Husky epitomises DCD’s strategic objectives of global competiveness, leading R&D, local content capability and job creation.”
Mears added that although DCD Protected Mobility has focused almost exclusively on export, this is set to change going forward. He said locally the company is also well positioned to take advantage of demand from the SANDF’s Vehicle Replacement Programmes. “Our new R100 million manufacturing facility, which was commissioned in June 2013, has established DCD’s local supply chain.”
“Boosting the capability of the local manufacturing sector to meet localisation requirements will continue to stimulate the local economy and create jobs,” said King.
This talk resonates with government’s ambition to restart the country’s aerospace and defense industry. It is the minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, who is particular passionate about this theme. His passion comes with the territory as he oversees state owned defence enterprise Denel.