South African arms manufacturer Denel is hoping to use a trilateral industrial initiative involving Brazil and India to secure a series of collaborative ventures in Latin America’s leading defense market.
The three governments have been working on the scheme — known as the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) initiative — for months. The aim is cooperation in research and production across a broad spectrum of industries, with defense as one of the target areas.
The principles of defense cooperation are already in place between Brazil and South Africa, said Denel Chief Executive Victor Moche. Collaboration could be on a bilateral or trilateral basis, whatever is appropriate, he said.
Indian companies had a heavy presence at the Latin America Aero & Defence 05 international exhibition and conference here April 26-29, including Bharat Earth Movers, which already partners with Denel on heavy artillery projects.
One Indian executive said the IBSA initiative was one reason companies attended in numbers.
Although initiatives of this nature often promise more than they deliver, Moche said he is confident the two sides soon will strike the first of several deals.
“I can say with a large measure of certainty we will formalize a range of programs,” he said. “There are no political hurdles to overcome, and I am confident we can move ahead with a decision in a matter of months. Confidence has grown as a result of a number of intimate discussions having already taken place between our armed forces and defense industries.”
Those discussions continued last week with the presence in Brazil of Lt. Gen. Carlo Gagiano, South Africa’s Air Force chief, Navy chief Adm. Johannes Refilwe Mudimu and the country’s senior procurement official, Maj. Gen. Otto Schur.
A Denel spokesman said the company is focusing on missile work, turrets for combat vehicles and a wide spectrum of ammunition for possible collaboration with Brazilian companies.
Denel already partners with European armored vehicle builder Patria in the run up to a possible competition for a next-generation infantry fighting vehicle in Brazil. The South African company designed the turret.
Brazilian missile company Mectron has been invited to participate in the continuing development of Denel’s A-Darter short-range air-to-air missile.
The South African company also supports Mectron and the Brazilian Air Force’s aerospace technical center, CTA, on the final evaluation of Brazil’s Piranha air-to-air missile.
In a statement released April 26, Denel said it envisages “closer collaboration with companies such as Emgepron [Empresa Gerencial de Projetos Navais], notably in co-production of ammunition and pyrotechnic products, and Imbel [Indústria de Material Bélico do Brasil] on future vehicle programs.”
Alec Erwin, South African public enterprise minister, said in parliament April 15 that one of the factors in the recent government decision to retain Denel as a state-owned company, rather then sell it off, was the “possibility of important strategic production alliances with companies in India and Brazil.”