South African armoured and mine-protected vehi- cle manufacturer BAE Systems Land Systems OMC is the main contractor to the Irish Department of Defence for the supply of RG32M light tactical armoured vehicles (LTAVs).
In December 2008, BAE secured an order to supply 27 vehicles of four variants of the LTAV. The variants include the standard variant, the surveillance variant, the reconnaissance variant and the communications variant. BAE will supply product systems complete with combat kits.
It has been reported that the contract is worth about R258-million, and includes options for a further 27 vehicles to be manufactured and delivered. Deliveries will start this year and take place over a three-year period.
The Irish army is using the LTAVs for peacekeeping operations abroad, for the United Nations and the European Union (EU). Currently, Ireland has an infantry battalion serving with the EU force in Chad, northern Africa.
The RG32M LTAV will be used in a number of roles. These include surveillance, communications, target acquisition and transporting US-made Javelin antitank missiles.
The RG32M is reported to have improved mine protection in comparison with previous models, providing greater blast survivability and crew protection.
The company also secured an order with the Spanish army for 100 RG31 MK5E mine-protected vehicles in October 2008.
Of the 100 ordered vehicles, 85 are troop carriers. There are also ten ambulances and five command and control post vehicles.
Combat kits for the vehicles will be fitted by Spanish defence company General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas.
Economic Leaps Amid Doubt
Although the global economy is in recession, Land Systems South Africa MD Johan Steyn strongly believes that the company will not be affected by it, at least not for the next two years. “We have a long-term strategy in place, should the economic crisis affect our business operations,” asserts Steyn.
This long-term strategy has translated into BAE Systems expanding its premises in Benoni, Alrode and Pretoria.
Land Systems South Africa as a business component of BAE Systems is rapidly expanding through growth and acquisitions. In August 2008, the company acquired defence products manufacturer IST Dynamics, now called Land Systems Dynamics.
“Owing to a number of large contracts for the Land Systems OMC and Land Systems Gear Ratio businesses, our majority shareholder, BAE Systems, has invested a significant amount of capital into facility upgrades,” says Steyn.
Further, he reports that the company has created over 300 jobs in the past year. “Another significant aspect is that our development is about 2% of turnover,” he adds.
The South African Market
The defence industry in South Africa is primarily export orientated and
Steyn confirms that the Land Systems South Africa business is export focused.
“However, Land Systems South Africa still regards the South African National Defence Force, through defence company Armscor and the South African Police Service, as its most important customer. “In fact, the increase in export revenue has enabled us to improve capabilities and facilities to better serve local clients,” says Steyn.