South Africa’s Defense Export Push
By Andy Nativi Genoa and Bill Sweetman Washington, Bill Sweetman
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
South Africa is one of the few countries able to offer an armed UAV for export—the Denel Dynamics Snyper, a version of the Seeker 400 armed with the new, locally developed Mokopa light missile. But the case epitomizes the South African problem: Even if the South African forces have a stated requirement for a new UAV, the Seeker 400 being the leading candidate, they have no money to buy it, nor can they provide the money needed to exploit its technological potential.
Indeed, South Africa boasts a small, fully professional military, which is nominally 78,000 strong (out of a population of 49 million), including civil servants, but which is severely understrength. South Africa, even more than Nigeria, is a true African regional power, but lacks the resources to play such a role. It has been forced to reduce the number of troops deployed abroad from 2,280 to 1,985, and deploying even a single frigate in anti-piracy mission in the Mozambique Channel proved to be very costly. The Sandf has also been tasked with the very demanding and costly border control mission, putting stress on the budget for operations and equipment maintenance.
South Africa has no resource or border disputes with its neighbors and has no problem securing its vital sea lanes of communications. It is therefore not surprising if the navy's main priorities are the acquisition of two types of offshore patrol vessels and a number of support and logistic ships. The army is expected to be rebuilt around a single mechanized division, a motorized division (to be used mainly for peacekeeping duties) and a special forces brigade. The army should still receive the logistic vehicles planned under the Vistula program, and most of the armored fighting vehicles envisaged under the Hoefyster program. The air force's main need is for tactical transport and maritime patrol aircraft and to complete the equipment of the Gripen and Hawk forces.