S.African arms major underlines defence ties with India

Wednesday, 18 February 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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PRETORIA: A delegation from major South African arms manufacturer Denel has returned here after what it described as a highly successful exhibition at a defence expo in India.

With its world leading artillery capabilities, the Denel Group attracted high ranking officials from India and elsewhere to its display at the DEFEXPO 2004 exhibition in New Delhi Feb 4-7, Denel spokesman Sam Basch told IANS here.

"It is clear that Denel is leading in the areas of collaboration between South Africa and India," said Sandile Zungu, chairman of the Denel board of directors.

"Denel is working closely with India's defence industry to develop products and systems that would satisfy the military requirements of both nations but which would also contribute to the growing trend for South-South industrial collaboration and trade."

Zungu led the Denel delegation at the exhibition hosted by India's Department of Defence and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"Given the strong links between the people of South Africa and India, and in particular India's unstinting support for our shared democratic values, it is only natural that we would foster closer economic ties."

Denel is collaborating with India's heavy engineering company, BEML, to develop a highly capable truck-mounted artillery system, using Denel's T5 turret mounted on a BEML truck platform.

Already at the first DEFEXPO in 1999, the joint India-South Africa 155 mm BHIM-T6 self-propelled artillery system was shown on India's Defence Research and Development Organisation pavilion.

India currently manufactures a range of 155 mm ammunition under licence from Denel. This partly stems from South African Minister of Public Enterprises Jeff Radebe's announcement two years ago that the two countries were working towards a Strategic Artillery Partnership comprising joint development and manufacture, sharing of technologies and marketing of artillery systems.

As a developer of innovative and sophisticated niche systems, Denel also showed its Mokopa long-range anti-armour missile -- the Rooivalk attack helicopter's main armament -- and the Umkhonto vertically-launched naval surface-to-air missile. The Umkhonto missile system, now being integrated on the South African Navy's Meko class corvettes, was also selected by Finland's navy.

Using some of the most advanced, proven electronic technology yet developed in South Africa, Denel's Integrated Mortar System also attracted serious attention. The system combines Denel's LH40 eye-safe laser rangefinder or the newly announced Eagle Eye target location binocular with GPS and hand-held data/radio communication for much improved operational efficiency using Denel's long-range mortar systems.

"Denel is committed to the Indian market and views this commitment as pivotal to the development of sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships between South Africa and India," Zungu said.

"With such international technology partnerships, we can jointly play an even more significant role in the global defence market place."

Source: IANS
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