State-owned defence industrial group Denel has committed itself to assist the country in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in every way it can. In this regard, its top priority is to assist in the local design and development of a medical ventilator.
This programme, designated Project Sabela, involved Denel Dynamics and Denel Aeronautics, two the group’s most high technology businesses. Denel Dynamics specialised in the design, development and manufacture of guided missiles, other precision guided weapons and unmanned aerial vehicles. Denel Aeronautics undertook aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul and was the design authority for the Denel Oryx medium transport helicopter and the original equipment manufacturer for the Denel Rooivalk combat support helicopter.
“We are still in the early stages of the project, but we are optimistic that this local initiative will help alleviate the dire need for medical ventilators that are required in great numbers at both public and private hospitals,” assured Denel Group CE Danie du Toit. Experts from Denel, national defence acquisition, disposals and research and development agency Armscor, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, national electricity utility Eskom and other bodies had formed a task team to look into designs and create a local ventilator prototype.
“We are proud to respond immediately and positively to a request from the Department of Public Enterprises to drive the ventilator project,” he affirmed. “As a State-owned company we are committed to utilising our skills, technology and experience in support of the national objectives to combat the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic at our doorstep.”
“Through Project Sabela, we are now focusing all our efforts on the current medical and humanitarian crisis facing South Africa and the world,” he added. “We are confident that we will soon make huge strides in the development of locally-designed ventilators at a time when global shortages are experienced.”
In addition, the group’s small and medium calibre ammunition manufacturing business Denel PMP was examining alternatives to produce medical and industrial sanitisers (many of the chemicals it used to make explosives could also be used to produce sanitisers). And Denel Land Systems was examining options to convert Casspir mine-protected vehicles into ambulances.