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Pakistan and South Africa sign memorandum-of-understanding for defence cooperation

Pakistan and South Africa signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) on Monday, March 27 entailing an increase in bilateral defence cooperation, especially in terms of defence industry collaboration, training and armament procurement.

The MoU – “Defence and Defence Industrial Cooperation” – was signed during an official four-day visit to Pakistan by South Africa’s Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The visit will conclude on Wednesday, March 29.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula met Pakistan’s Minister of Defence (MoD) Khawaja Asif, Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Rana Tanveer Hussain, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, and other high-level Pakistani defence officials. The South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Chief of Staff General Solly Zacharia Shoke was also the chief guest at the annual Pakistan Day Parade on March 23.

As per the press statement released by the Government of Pakistan, the MoU encompasses many areas, among them a call to explore opportunities for collaboration between Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) with Denel Land Systems and Denel Aviation, respectively. Contact between South Africa and Pakistan’s respective state-owned vendors have already been established.

Citing the South African Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, Gulf News reports that the MoU also involves the “acquisition of defence equipment as well as cooperation in Research and Development (R&D), Transfer of Technology, Co-production/Joint Ventures in public as well as private sector.”

In September 2016, South Africa and Pakistan officially committed to enhancing bilateral defence ties. At the time, South Africa’s defence minister, Ms. Mapisa-Nqakula, stated that South Africa will establish a Defence Attaché office in Islamabad by the end of 2016.

Notes & Comments:

This could be a significant agreement considering it has been signed at the intergovernmental level, which should green-light commercial exchanges and technical collaboration between both countries moving forward. South Africa has a strong product portfolio comprising of surface-to-air missiles, air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground munitions, artillery, armoured vehicles and competency in critical technology, such as dual-pulse rocket motors.

The combination of modern technology and accessible pricing (especially in ZAR) should position South Africa’s defence goods favourably against competing Western solutions, especially in a cost-sensitive market such as Pakistan.

While the MoU is a first, Pakistan had procured South African defence equipment in the past, especially in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The most noteworthy of these were the sale – with local licensed production – of Raptor-I and Raptor-II stand-off range glide bombs. Deployed from the Mirage III/5, these formed the nucleus of the PAF’s long-range strike capabilities, which now include other stand-off range munitions, including the Ra’ad air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), which analysts believe benefited greatly from South African expertise.

The Denel Land Systems T5-52 self-propelled wheeled howitzer and Denel Dynamics A-Darter air-to-air missile are (or at least were) of interest to the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force (PAF), respectively. The Denel Dynamics Umkhonto EIR could also interest the Pakistan Navy for upgrading the Zulfiqar-class (F-22P) frigates and/or for new surface warships. The Pakistan Army’s recurring need for light armoured vehicles, such as mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, may also be of interest to Denel Group and Paramount Group.

Besides procurement, Pakistan might also be interested in sourcing Denel Group SOC’s competencies in aerostructures, munitions development, artillery and tank guns, and maintenance, repair and overhaul. Pakistan could also build upon earlier work in stand-off range munitions, drawing upon Denel Dynamics’ expertise to produce improved versions of existing weapons and emulate emerging Western designs.

Pakistan and South Africa’s respective private sector entities could also collaborate. Pakistan’s Global Industrial and Defence Solutions (GIDS) is interested in developing a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). GIDS and one of South Africa’s defence vendors (e.g. Denel Aviation or Paramount Group) could potentially collaborate on this front.

In any case, the formal MoU should provide a strong official basis to enable procurement, which would be a long-term boon for South Africa in terms of big-ticket commercial opportunities.

This MoU appears to be part of a wider South African government policy to open markets for the country’s defence industry. Prior to Pakistan, South Africa signed a similar MoU with Iran, which now reportedly has an Umkhonto missile deal worth U.S. $117 million on the table. The Arab Gulf, Iran and Pakistan could be a belt of potentially lucrative markets, which Denel Group, Paramount Group and others will work to secure by using competitive cost, transfer-of-technology and industry collaboration as incentives.

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  • by Irfan Ullah
    Posted March 28, 2017 1:18 am 0Likes

    A good step which should be taken a lot earlier ,we should further explore the areas as per our requirements with friendly countries

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted March 28, 2017 4:58 am 0Likes

    I hope that this leads to further interaction between South Africa and Pakistan.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted March 28, 2017 5:14 am 0Likes

    If anything it at least implies government approval. Now, it is up to the buyer and seller, e.g. if the PAF is still interested in the A-Darter, it should be able to work out a deal with Denel Dynamics now.

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted March 28, 2017 5:49 am 0Likes

    The A-Darter would give the JF-17 an interesting selling tool especially to developing nations.

  • by Sami Shahid
    Posted March 28, 2017 6:51 am 0Likes

    T5-52 Howitzer is a good one but G 6 Howitzer is also good and both Howitzers are a product of Denel. Pakistan should develop one of these with the help of Denel ( South Africa ). More importantly, if Pakistan ever decides to develop its own attack helicopter then South Africa can definitely help a lot.

  • by Sami Shahid
    Posted March 28, 2017 8:50 am 0Likes

    South Africa can help Pakistan a lot. check this out

  • by sucker punch
    Posted March 28, 2017 11:49 am 0Likes

    Pakistan should undertake some projects like artillery, helicopter and missile development with South African companies, rather than only purchasing them off the shelf.

  • by jamshed_kharian_pak
    Posted March 28, 2017 4:25 pm 0Likes

    Very good choice, South Africa has everything to fill our need for Western origin and R&D it is still better

  • by AshBrad
    Posted March 29, 2017 5:13 am 0Likes

    Well well, great news. Iran and Mkhonto (thought they just got the S300) what about the Rooivalk mK II, can I read between the lines and say BVRAAM Marlin development. A by product of Mkhonto ER (100km) SAM . GReat Opportunity. Possible Roundabout colloboration with Ukraine and Brazil

  • by Shakeel
    Posted March 30, 2017 3:12 pm 0Likes

    Greeting to all my respective brother & sisters

    May our relation relationship blossom with SA in the near future. This is a win, win combination for both countries.Please remain a vociferous advocate of Pak-SA relationstionship Matthys.

    The Umkhonto ER-IR & A Darter are a MUST have item for Pakistan.

    Being a biggest critic of the Pak govt, I would like to commend them on this positive intiative. A joint initiative such as the Marlin SAM programme would be a major booster for both countries.

    See Quwa wonderful article below:-

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