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Defence & Aerospace

Rolls-Royce on course, but warns of greater near-term market uncertainty

By: Rebecca Campbell     26th January 2021 UK-based global industrial technology group Rolls-Royce issued a trading update on Tuesday. It covered the group’s 2020 unaudited results and its preliminary expectations for this year. (Full year results for 2020 will be released on March 11.) “Trading in December was broadly in line with... 

Thales' challenge to racketeering charge it faces with Zuma dismissed - paving way for trial to start  

By: News24Wire      22nd January 2021 The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has dismissed with costs French arms company Thales' bid to challenge the racketeering charge it faces along with former president Jacob Zuma. The case brought by Thales, which is being represented by Oscar Pistorius' former defence advocate Barry... 

UK launches study into using nuclear power for space exploration

By: Rebecca Campbell     22nd January 2021 The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has signed a contract with global major industrial technology group Rolls-Royce to study future nuclear power options for space missions. This is the first such contract awarded by the UK and is also the first-ever contract between the UKSA and Rolls-Royce. The intent... 

While air cargo demand continues recovery, air passenger demand stalls

By: Rebecca Campbell     22nd January 2021 The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has reported that air cargo volumes increased in November last year, compared with October. However, they were still down on the figures for November 2019. The continued parking of many passenger aircraft meant that global air cargo capacity... 

South African air and defence show scheduled for March has been cancelled

By: Rebecca Campbell     21st January 2021 The Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ADTS) 2021, scheduled for late March at Lanseria International Airport, has been cancelled. This is consequence of the great uncertainties presented by the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, with South Africa now experiencing its second wave of the disease. “The... 

UK to engage with aerospace sector over tariff issues after Brexit

By: Reuters     20th January 2021 Britain's Northern Ireland minister said he would engage with the aerospace sector over tariff issues on raw materials. Asked by a lawmaker about concerns from aerospace companies about an additional tariff which is being placed on goods considered to be 'at risk' for the sector which when... 

Virgin Orbit successfully puts CubeSats into space on its second launch mission

By: Rebecca Campbell     18th January 2021 US space company Virgin Orbit, part of the UK-based Virgin group (and a sister company to space tourism enterprise Virgin Galactic) successfully launched ten nanosatellites into orbit on Sunday. This was the company’s first successful space launch, achieved on its second launch demonstration... 


Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl takes off from Mojave with a LauncherOne rocket under its wing
Photo by Virgin Orbit
Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl takes off from Mojave with a LauncherOne rocket under its wing

Commercial business delivers 777 freighters after securing separate order for 737 MAXs

By: Rebecca Campbell     15th January 2021 US-based global major aerospace group Boeing marked the advent of the new year with the delivery of three 777 Freighter (777F) aircraft to Qatar Airways Cargo. One of the aircraft concerned was the 200th 777F to be delivered. With this delivery, Qatar’s 777F fleet now numbers 24 aircraft. The... 

UK defence scientists develop robot to autonomously detect and map toxic chemicals

By: Rebecca Campbell     14th January 2021 The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has developed a prototype of a robot that can autonomously detect, report and map dangerous chemicals spread over large areas. Designated the Merlin, the robot was developed in partnership with independent UK... 

Boeing awarded contract to increase space station power supply with new solar arrays

By: Rebecca Campbell     14th January 2021 US aerospace giant Boeing has been contracted by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) to construct six new and additional solar arrays for the International Space Station (ISS). These will increase the ISS’ power supply by 20% to 30% and so allow it to undertake greater... 

The International Space Station
Photo by Nasa
The International Space Station

Airbus reports sharply reduced deliveries but a net gain in airliner orders last year 

By: Rebecca Campbell     11th January 2021 Europe-based global major aerospace group Airbus has reported that its total commercial aircraft deliveries last year were 34% lower than in 2019. However, this significantly reduced number was in line with the manufacturer's adaptation plan, announced in April, to cope with the effects of the... 

European missile group wins major order from UK

By: Rebecca Campbell     7th January 2021 Pan-European missile group MBDA has been awarded a £550-million contract to produce a new missile system for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). The missile, called Spear by MBDA and Spear3 by the UK MoD, is the first of its type to have been developed: a network-enabled miniature cruise missile.... 

An artist’s impression of an F-35B launching a swarm of Spear3 missiles
Photo by MBDA
An artist’s impression of an F-35B launching a swarm of Spear3 missiles

Airbus set to conclude major defence contract with India

By: Rebecca Campbell     6th January 2021 One of India’s leading newspapers, the Hindustan Times, has reported that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is to acquire 56 Airbus C295 medium tactical transport aircraft in a deal worth $2.5-billion. The transaction is likely to be signed in the near future. The deal is with Airbus Defence and Space,... 

A radar-equipped C295 of the Portuguese Air Force on a test flight over Spain.
Photo by Airbus Defence and Space
A radar-equipped C295 of the Portuguese Air Force on a test flight over Spain.

Cele confirms SANDF will help police patrol Garden Route beaches 

By: News24Wire      6th January 2021 Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that South African National Defence Force members have been roped in to assist the police to keep bathers away from beaches along the Garden Route in the Western Cape. Cele was visiting the Garden Route on Wednesday morning. He said people are still... 

Police Minister Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele

Bad weather nano-UAV successfully developed in UK for army use

By: Rebecca Campbell     4th January 2021 UK-based global major aerospace and defence group BAE Systems and British specialist uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) small and medium enterprise (SME) UAVTEK have partnered to develop a nano-UAV for military use that can operate in severe wind conditions. Known as the Bug, the nano-UAV successfully... 

A Bug nano-UAV before being hand-launched
Photo by BAE Systems
A Bug nano-UAV before being hand-launched

Military Ombud assessing whether to investigate SANDF's R200m Covid-19 drug deal 

By: News24Wire      14th December 2020 A panel is set to determine whether the Military Ombud should investigate the defence department's R200-million deal to import an unregistered Covid-19 drug, Heberon Interferon-Alpha-2B, from Cuba. News24 has seen a letter confirming the Ombud's consideration to investigate the case after it... 

Technology group Rolls-Royce on track with plans to reposition itself and cut costs

By: Rebecca Campbell     11th December 2020 UK-based global major industrial technology group Rolls-Royce reported on Friday that it still expected to turn cash-flow-positive during the second half of next year and was still targeting at least £750-million in free cash flow (not counting disposals) as soon as 2022. It was also expecting to... 

A mock-up of Rolls-Royce’s next-generation UltraFan very large civil aerospace engine
Photo by Rolls-Royce
A mock-up of Rolls-Royce’s next-generation UltraFan very large civil aerospace engine

Arms deal corruption case against Zuma postponed 

By: Reuters     8th December 2020 The corruption case against South Africa's former president, Jacob Zuma, and French arms dealer Thales related to a $2-billion arms deal has been provisionally postponed to February 23 next year, the Pietermaritzburg High Court said on Friday. It is the latest delay of trial proceedings for Zuma,... 

Drone Council seeks to help the industry by influencing govt

By: Rebecca Campbell     4th December 2020 Although South Africa was, only a few years ago, the leader in Africa in the development, deployment and operation of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as remotely piloted aircraft systems or RPAS, or more simply called drones), a number of African countries had since overtaken it in... 

Solidarity court case against Denel postponed

By: Rebecca Campbell     3rd December 2020 Trade union Solidarity on Thursday expressed regret that the contempt of court case it had brought against State-owned defence industrial group Denel had been postponed until January 27. The court ruled that the Denel board had to be given time to respond to the affidavit presented by the union.... 

Solidarity union members to protest at Denel on Wednesday

By: Rebecca Campbell     1st December 2020 The Solidarity trade union has announced that its members who are employees of State-owned defence industrial group Denel will stage a protest march at the group’s head office in Irene, Centurion, south of Pretoria, on Wednesday at noon. The protest is to express their dissatisfaction over lack... 

Airbus Helicopters naval UAV programme achieves major milestone

By: Rebecca Campbell     1st December 2020 Europe-based aerospace and defence group Airbus has reported that its VSR700 optionally-piloted vehicle (OPV) helicopter has successfully made fully autonomous approaches and landings and subsequent take-offs from a platform that simulated the movement of ships at sea. The platform is mounted on... 

The VSR700 OPV just before landing on the moving platform; note that the pilot does not have his hands on the controls.
Photo by Airbus
The VSR700 OPV just before landing on the moving platform; note that the pilot does not have his hands on the controls.

Brazilian aerospace group delivers first modernised radar plane to Brazilian Air Force

By: Rebecca Campbell     30th November 2020 Brazil-based major aerospace and defence group Embraer announced on Friday that it had delivered the first modernised E-99M airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force (abbreviated to FAB in Portuguese). The E-99M (M stands for modernised) is known to Embraer as... 

The first upgraded E-99M for the Brazilian Air Force
Photo by Embraer
The first upgraded E-99M for the Brazilian Air Force

South African UAV industry body seeks to be able to influence government

By: Rebecca Campbell     24th November 2020 Although South Africa was, only a few years ago, the leader in Africa in the development, deployment and operation of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs, also known as remotely-piloted aircraft systems or RPAS, or more simply called drones), a number of African countries had since overtaken it in... 

New South African aviation and defence show announced for next March

By: Rebecca Campbell     20th November 2020 South African aerospace and defence show organiser AAD Expo has announced that it has organised a new event, Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ADTS) 2021, which will be held at Lanseria International Airport from March 24 to March 26 next year. AAD Expo is normally responsible for the biennial... 

SANDF wants power to manage its own facilities

By: News24Wire      19th November 2020 The South African National Defence (SANDF) is edging closer to managing its own military facilities which could also see an end to high lease costs estimated to rise to around R1-billion “in less than ten years”. On Wednesday, DWF commander Major General Joseph Ledwaba briefed Parliament’s... 

International Space Station marks 20 years of operations

By: Rebecca Campbell     13th November 2020 November 2 marked the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first crew on board the International Space Station (ISS). More than 15 countries have worked together to build it, and, since the first three-man crew (Russians Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, and American William Shepherd) boarded... 

UK industry/academia consortium to develop advanced and novel sensing technologies

By: Rebecca Campbell     6th November 2020 UK-based global major aerospace and defence group BAE Systems and the University of Birmingham in England have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create an Advanced Sensing Technologies Consortium (ASTC). This consortium is part of the UK’s State-funded National Quantum Technologies... 

South Africa eases defence firm Denel's bailout terms 

By: Reuters     6th November 2020 South Africa's government has eased the terms of a R576-million bailout given to state defence company Denel for the financial year that ends in March 2021, officials told Reuters. Denel, which makes military equipment for South Africa's armed forces and export, has faced a liquidity crisis and... 

South Africa eases defence firm Denel's bailout terms

Youth robotics training programme successfully completed during Covid-19 lockdown

By: Donna Slater     5th November 2020 Paramount Labs – the research and innovation division of aerospace and technology company Paramount Group – in partnership with the South African Air Force (SAAF), has successfully completed its newly-launched robotics training programme with the first group of young students who enrolled as part... 

Youth robotics training programme successfully completed during Covid-19 lockdown

Rolls-Royce spearheading project to transform aeroengine inspections and maintenance

By: Rebecca Campbell     3rd November 2020 UK-based global industrial technology group Rolls-Royce has announced the launch of a project to revolutionise the inspection, maintenance and repair of aeroengines. The project is named Reinstate and is supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), a UK public-private partnership aimed... 

Opinion: Defence industry nowhere to be seen in science, technology and innovation policy

30th October 2020 In this opinion article, Dr Mthobisi Zondi argues that the South African government cannot implement critical science, technology and innovation (STI) policy while excluding the defence industry, which he describes as a capable sector with immense potential. The importance of science, technology... 

Dr Mthobisi Zondi
Dr Mthobisi Zondi

Top UK companies highlight advanced technologies they are developing for future fighter

By: Rebecca Campbell     30th October 2020 Major British aerospace, defence and industrial technology companies BAE Systems (BAES), Leonardo UK (part of Italy-based global aerospace and defence group Leonardo SpA), MBDA UK (part of the pan-European MBDA missile group) and Rolls-Royce reported recently on some of the advanced technologies... 

Mboweni agrees to SAA's R10.5bn bailout; no funds for SABC, Post Office and Denel 

By: News24Wire      28th October 2020 South African Airways will get the R10.5-billion it has requested from government to fund its business rescue process. The monies will be made available from reductions from national departments and their entities as well as reductions from local and provincial conditional grants, according to... 

Mboweni agrees to SAA's R10.5bn bailout; no funds for SABC, Post Office and Denel

South African defence companies need partnerships with overseas OEMs to survive

By: Rebecca Campbell     26th October 2020 The low level of the South African defence budget means that local defence companies cannot survive on domestic orders alone. Not only that, but local defence research and development (R&D) spending has also gone down over the years.  “The decline in local defence spending in difficult defence... 

A Swedish Air Force NH90 helicopter dispenses infrared countermeasure flares from a Saab Grintek Defence Integrated Defence Aids Suite
Photo by Saab Grintek Defence
A Swedish Air Force NH90 helicopter dispenses infrared countermeasure flares from a Saab Grintek Defence Integrated Defence Aids Suite

Regional airline body calls for travel restrictions to be clear and consistent

By: Rebecca Campbell     23rd October 2020 The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) has warned the governments of the region that the continuation of “inconsistent and arbitrary” air travel restrictions (to counter the Covid-19 pandemic) were endangering economic recovery and future growth. As a result, almost five-million jobs... 

UK provides funding for ‘self-eating’ space rocket concept

By: Rebecca Campbell     23rd October 2020 The UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), an agency of the country’s Ministry of Defence, has committed £90 000 (about R1.92-million) to support the development of a potentially revolutionary ‘autophage’ rocket engine. Autophage literally means self-eating, and the rocket is being... 

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