Global defence, security and peacekeeping company Paramount Group signed a multipronged partnership agreement with Argentine defence and security company Codesur. This will enable Paramount Group to develop its business in South America.
The strategic partnership between Paramount Group and Codesur was announced on December 6, 2012. It is based on shared technology and a regional programme to introduce Paramount Group's security and land systems, as well as its electronic and aerospace systems onto the South American market, says Paramount Group CEO John Craig.
“We want to build industrial partnerships in countries such as Brazil and Argentina and, in time, manufacture our products and create partnerships to support our products with Codesur,” he says.
Meanwhile, the company launched the latest version of its ballistically protected Marauder Patrol vehicle at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition, in Pretoria, in September last year.
“The new Maurauder Patrol vehicle looks like a smaller version of the original Marauder, but is in a different product category, owing to its smaller size. It combines mobility and high levels of protection into a versatile platform,” says Craig.
He adds that the marketing of Marauder Patrol is aimed at the police and special forces that require an agile and quick response vehicle for tough environments.
“It has a deliberate nonaggressive appearance, making it useful for police, peacekeepers or special forces operating in sensitive environments. The Marauder Patrol complies with standardisation agreement level 1 ballistic protection, meaning it can withstand shell fragments and 7.62 mm and 5.56 mm bullets.
“The vehicle comes in either a five-door version, which can carry nine people, or a four-door double-cab pick-up model, which can carry five people. Both models are available with optional run-flat tyre inserts, communications systems, add-on armour, various weapons stations and automatic transmission.
“Crew comfort and ergonomics were key design elements and the vehicle is fully air-conditioned, with space for tools, medical supplies and communications equipment,” Craig explains.
Paramount Group is also working on its advanced high-performance reconnaissance and lighter track aircraft.
The full-scale flying model will be launched in the first quarter of this year.
“We have flight-tested a quarter-scale model that complies with all flight parameters. The model has completed more than 100 flights and all its flight data is recorded and calibrated and compared with our predictions,” he says.
South Africa’s Role in Defence Industry
Craig states that South Africa is internationally renowned for manufacturing armoured protected and blast-protected vehicles, which the country has developed because of its unique position in history.
“South Africa is the first country to faced a nonconventional insurgency war, during which landmines were used as a weapon of choice by freedom fighters.
“The Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) took the leading role in developing this type of technology by understanding the physics of blasts and developing a V-Shaped hull for vehicles using special materials that could withstand landmine forces,” he says.
Craig adds that, owing to its own urgent operational needs, South Africa was the first country to develop a solution, with technology which has successfully been exported into major programmes such as the US armed forces’ mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles.
He notes, however, that South Africa is not a major player in the global defence market, compared to the US and Russia, which dominate the international defence trade.
“Statistics show that South Africa is one of the major independent nonaligned countries that has an active defence industry, but we are relatively small, compared with the US, Russia and European players.
“However, that does not mean that the defence industry is not relevant to South Africa and its economy. We are pioneers in technological advancement and skills development in the defence industry, which flows to the mainstream nondefence industry,” says Craig.
He explains that the spin-offs from technology and skills in the defence industry make the highly technological sector of the defence and aerospace industries disproportionately important to skills development and the positioning of many South Africans at higher end of the skills spectrum.
“Improving South Africa’s skills development is a challenge and the defence and aerospace sector is one that generates wealth and good jobs."
Craig points out that, over the past ten years, the company has noticed skills shortages in the technical and engineering sectors of the industry.
“We realise that we have to develop this competence and assist the youth with skills development,” he says, adding that the company has an aerospace innovation centre, in Centurion, and a land systems skills development innovation centre, in Midrand.
Paramount Group chairperson Ivor Ichikowitz founded the Ichikowitz Foundation, through which his family has collaborated with the South African National Parks Board (SANParks) to combat rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
“We made a reconnaissance aircraft, named Seeker, available to SANParks in December last year. The antipoaching aircraft is equipped with sophisticated heat sensors to detect animals and humans on the ground; it also has a quiet engine for improved stealth.
“The war on poaching is entering a crucial phase and there are new technologies to assist authorities. Some of SANParks’ successes will be conducted with military precision.
“We are in discussions to identify other operational needs that require assistance,” he concludes.