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Airbus is continuing its ongoing-process of divestment in companies it considers no longer core to its aerospace and defence work. After divesting in 2016 the remainder of its holding in French commercial and military aerospace firm Dassault Aviation and selling the same year its defence electronics business to KKR, Airbus Defence and Space has last week entered into an agreement to sell its 49 percent share in Atlas Elektronik Group to thyssenkrupp AG.

With this acquisition, Thyssenkrupp, which to date has held a 51 percent share in the company, will become the sole owner of Atlas Elektronik. This will lead to strengthen Germany’s offer on the export market for submarines. Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), a Thyssenkrupp subsidiary, is indeed involved in the military shipbuilding. Atlas Elektronik equips German and foreign vessels with sonar systems, torpedoes, etc.

Both parties have agreed to be silent about the purchase price. But the operation should be between €100 to €200 million. Indeed, we should note that in 2006 the consortium Airbus-TKMS bought Atlas Elektronik from BAE Systems for €145 million in cash plus the pension fund of the company which all in all brought the deal to €217,4 million at the time.

The SSK Submarine market

Currently, TKMS is facing strong competition from French naval contractor DCNS, which has recently succeeded in the A$50 billion ($36.3 billion) Australian competition for building a fleet of 12 submarines.

In April 2016, both companies have been shortlisted by Norwegian Ministry of Defence. Germany expects a lot from the sale of 4 to 6 submarines to Norway where DCNS has recently become the favourite. This tender will offer many opportunities to Atlas Elektronik.

In the next 10 years, opened tenders for diesel-electric attack submarines are expected in the following countries:


Nigeria is reviving its air force with a number of aircraft acquisitions from abroad and refurbishment of grounded aircraft to intensify its operations against Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and reposition itself to better protect its national security. Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that: “The Nigerian Air Force has adopted and is currently executing operational strategies to boost the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Air Force while also improving the welfare of its airmen and some of the communities within its area of operation.”

On October 21, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra signed a contract for ten Super Mushshak trainer aircraft. Currently on loan are eight aircraft until the new aircraft are delivered. PAC’s Kamra Chairman, AM Arshad Malik, said that the contract includes operational training and technical support by the Pakistan Air Force.

At a ceremony held at Nigerian Air Force Base Kaduna on December 5, Air Marshal Abubakar accepted the first four Super Mushshaks with an additional four to be delivered in 2017. According to Abubakar, the air force currently has 70 pilots on training placements locally and abroad. The Super Mushshak  (The Agile) is an upgraded version of the Mushshak fitted with a more powerful engine, cockpit air-conditioning system (Enviro R-134), electrical instruments, and electric trim (elevator and rudder electrical cum manual trim).

Apart from basic flight training, the Super Mushshak can be utilized for:

  • Instrument flying
  • Aerobatics, stalls, and deliberate spins
  • Night flying
  • Navigation flying
  • Formation flying

The Super Mushshak can also be deployed for a wide range of army co-operation missions such as:

  • Forward air control
  • Forward area support with droppable supply containers
  • Reconnaissance
  • Artillery fire observation
  • Camouflage inspection
  • Border patrol
  • Liaison
  • Target flying and target towing for training of ground units

In addition to the Super Mushshak acquisition, Nigeria is set to receive the following aircraft:

  • 4 Mi-35N attack helicopters (Russia)
  • 3 Ex-Brazilian Air Force Super Tucanos (light attack and surveillance operations)
  • 3 JF-17 Thunder fighter jets (Pakistan)

Despite political sensitivities between Nigeria and the U.S., in May 2016 the U.S. was seeking to approve the sale of up to 12 Super Tucanos to Nigeria for operations against Boko Haram. The U.S. has provided millions of dollars towards regional efforts in combatting Boko Haram, and will more than likely continue to do so as long as Nigeria shows progress in ending human rights violations and corruption in its armed forces.


Working with what they already have in their inventory, Nigeria is resurrecting grounded aircraft into service and recently refurbished:

  • 3 Mi-24V and Mi-35P attack helicopters
  • 2 EC-135s
  • 2 AugustaWestland A109s
  • 1 Super Puma
  • 1 Beechcraft light aircraft
  • 1 Falcon jet
  • 1 Diamond DA-42
  • 2 Dornier DO-228 (surveillance and patrol)

The revival of the Nigerian Air Force can only have a positive effect on pilots and will undoubtedly boost morale and professionalism. Air Marshal Abubakar stated that: “By the end of the first quarter of 2017, the NAF would have 21 additional new platforms in its inventory. We are highly excited of this development because the last time the NAF was given such number of platforms at a time was in the early 80s.” The Air Marshal added that the main objective of the air force’s strategy is to enable land and surface forces to operate with little or no limitations: “You cannot eliminate all threats to surface forces, what you can do is to soften the ground sufficiently so that the Army or Navy can move in to conduct their operations.”


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


South Africa has attracted a number of international companies dealing in defence technologies, some of which have the largest operation outside of their homeland in the country. Swedish company Saab is one of these companies with over 700 employees in South Africa alone and a strong presence in the African market with offices in South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya. Among its many business areas, Saab is widely known for its aeronautics and avionics systems for military and civilian aircraft. South Africa has become a strategic base for Saab to market its portfolio throughout Africa.

Saab owns Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) in South Africa with African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) completing a R125 million deal to acquire a 25% plus one share stake. SGD’s expanding staff complement in South Africa continues with orders well into 2020. Trevor Raman, President and CEO of SGD, stated that: “We have built a remarkable organisation by partnering with South African companies and investing in skills and enterprise development, to ensure that our hi-tech business has local access to the specialised skills and services we need to meet our global customers’ needs.”

SGD designs and produces electronic warfare and avionics technology for defence forces across the globe (including Germany, Brazil, and the Middle East), stimulating South African exporting revenues (the South African Department of Trade and Industry named SGD Exporter of the Year in 2013 and 2014). India’s Make in India programme benefited from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between SGD and Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (Tata Power SED) in July 2016 to convey locally produced South African technology and products to foreign markets. “We are excited about the signing of this MoU as it is our strategy to take South Africa’s indigenous technology and products beyond local markets with well-established expert partners that add value to our supply chain and open new markets. The transfer of technology for production of initial orders for Saab’s global customers has already commenced at Tata Power SED’s facility in Bangalore,” said Trevor Raman

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was present during the signing to promote defence manufacturing in India and create export opportunities for South Africa. Earlier in 2016, SGD and Tata Power SED announced the manufacturing of the Land Electronic Defence System (LEDS) 50 for the Indian market and for export. The system was previously made in South Africa only. The system detects a laser threat in the field and notifies operators when the vehicle has been painted with a laser by opposing forces.


SGD is heavily involved in command, control and communications systems, and sensor technology. Regarding communication, SGD’s TactiCall solution, currently used by the South African Navy and the South African Police Service, ensures seamless communication between different emergency management services, regardless of the radio band, frequency, or hardware used. The system resolves any breakdown in communication when using a variety of devices.


SGD has positioned itself as a major player in South Africa essentially expanding from South Africa’s acquisition of the Gripen fighter in the 1990s. SGD’s Centurion campus is located close to Waterkloof Air Force Base with a variety of its products available for demonstration year-round. The company emphasizes its ability to work closely with clients appealing to rapid defence requirements by innovating new technology according to its client’s needs.

Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



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