South African private-sector defence company Rheinmetall Defence Munition (RDM) is enjoying strong growth in its business, which is dominated by exports. “Things are going exceptionally good for RDM,” company CEO Norbert Schulze told Engineering News Online. “Since 2016, we have been growing at 20% a year. Under our plans, this will continue until 2020. Most of this is export business.”
Only about 18% of the company’s business is local, with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) accounting for 6% of total business, Denel for 9% and the other 3% being attributed to civilian markets. “But the SANDF business is important because it gives us the reputational base that allows us to win exports,” he explained.
At the moment, exports account for 82% of RDM’s business. Currently, the main market area is the Middle East, with the Asia Pacific in second place and Europe third.
“Our best selling product lines at the moment are mortar bombs and artillery shells,” he reported. “Between them, these product ranges represent 70% of our business.” The split between the mortar bombs and artillery shells is roughly equal.
“We see a renaissance in the mortar, worldwide,” he highlighted. “We are expecting this segment to grow, substantially. By the end of this year, we will have a complete set of suites of mortar bombs, from 60 mm to 120 mm, qualified on the majority of mortar designs available on the market today.”
The company’s new range of medium velocity grenades (fired from grenade launchers), unveiled two years ago, is attracting great international interest. The original low velocity version had a maximum range of 400 m, but this has now been increased to 800 m. A new, air burst, version is under development at the request of potential customers.
“We are in negotiations at the moment for contracts for our medium velocity grenades and we expect to win contracts by the end of this year,” stated Schulze. “This is a brand new concept, a brand new product, developed in-house, in RDM, in South Africa and a world first.”