South Africa


Rheinmetall Defence group has an impressive list of divisions and subsidiaries across international borders dealing in weapons and ammunition, vehicle systems, and electronic solutions. Even though the subsidiaries are responsible for their own respective market segments, Rheinmetall Defence has managed to strategically increase its overall global reach through these subsidiaries.

As a subsidiary of Rheinmetall Defence, Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd (RDM) is jointly owned by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH of Germany (holding 51% of shares with 3 board members) and Denel (Pty) Ltd. of South Africa (holding 49% of shares with 2 board members). RDM was established in September 2008 when Denel divisions Somchem (Somerset West and Wellington sites), Swartklip, Boksburg, and Naschem were integrated into RDM. Surprisingly, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) accounts for only 6% of RDM’s business and they acquire the majority of their munitions from the company. RDM’s big business lies in exports.

With 1 416 employees, RDM specializes in ammunition and develops, designs, and manufactures large and medium calibre munitions excelling in the field of artillery, mortar, infantry systems, and plant engineering for various filling and lapping facilities. Currently, RDM’s order book accounts for one and a quarter years of production. RDM has been growing at 20% per year and continues to invest in upgrading its facilities with the next three years seeing another R550 million investment (it has invested R1.1 billion to date). RDM is also conscious of the environment and is involved in protecting wildlife and sustaining biodiversity at three of its four production sites.


Around 70% of RDM’s current production comprises artillery rounds and mortars. In addition to producing a wide variety of ammunition such as the 105 and 155 mm artillery shells; 60, 81, and 120 mm mortars; 40 x 51 mm grenades; and 76/62 mm shells, RDM also manufactures bombs, rocket, and missile subsystems.

  • Artillery ammunition (105mm and 155mm)
  • Mortar ammunition (60, 81, and 120mm)
  • Missile subsystems (propulsion units, warheads, etc.)
  • Minefield breaching systems
  • Ammunition for naval applications
  • 40mm infantry ammunition and pyrotechnics
  • Propellants and raw materials
  • Ammunition and metal components


RDM’s largest export markets are the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. RDM has been a supplier to Denel Dynamics for all rocket motor propellants (such as the A-Darter and Ingwe). RDM also provides Tawazun Dynamics (a joint venture between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tawazun Holdings and Denel) Al Tariq bomb kit with insensitive explosive filling for the Mk 81 and Mk 82 bombs. RDM is also the sole supplier of propellants for Forges de Zeebrugge FZ 70 rockets.

In North Africa following four years of construction, RDM is in the final stages of commissioning a universal filling facility able to fill a variety of munitions including medium and large calibre ammunition and aircraft bombs. In the Middle East, RDM in conjunction with Saudi Military Industries Corporation successfully built an ammunitions factory. Denel’s 2015 annual financial report showed a strong increase in booked orders with a current value of more than R3.1 billion (major booked multi-year projects from Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and UAE).

Potential future business includes a €28 million contract for Plofadder mine clearing systems and a €65 million contract for ammunition from an international customer. RDM CEO, Norbet Schulze, told DefenceWeb that RDM expects to win a R500 million contract from the Middle East for 40 mm grenades by the fourth quarter of 2017.

RDM is looking to expand into a R4.5 billion company and judging by its financials, it continues full steam ahead. There is no doubt of the positive impact Rheinmetall Defence had in its involvement with Denel as prior to RDM’s formation, Denel’s munition divisions were making a loss of R159 million. RDM’s launch in 2008 impressively resulted in a R89 million profit in 2009.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


With armoured vehicle exports rated as South Africa’s largest exports for 2016, it is no surprise that Denel Vehicle Systems is leading the pack with regards to orders.

On 28 April 2015, Denel bought from BAE its 75% stake in Land Systems South Africa (LSSA) for R641 million ($53 million) and the remaining 25% stake from BAE Systems’ partner DGD Technologies, costing Denel R855 million in total. BAE Land Systems South Africa was rebranded as Denel Vehicle Systems.

Denel Vehicle Systems is comprised of three business units namely OMC, Gear Ratio, and Mechatronics, offering services to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), the South African Police Service (SAPS), and foreign customers.

Denel Vehicle Systems is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of:

• Main battle tank such as the Olifant
• Heavy wheeled armoured combat vehicles such as the Rooikat and the weapon platform for the G-6 SP Howitzer
• Ratel infantry fighting vehicle
• Casspir and Mamba armoured personnel carriers
• Police and security vehicles such as the RG12 Nyala
• SAMIL trucks


OMC manufactures armoured vehicles and provides maintenance, upgrades, and retrofits, offering in-service support for more than 7000 armoured vehicles and military trucks in service with the South African Army and the SAPS and more than
3 500 armoured vehicles in service with armed forces across the globe.

OMC manufactures the following vehicles:

• RG32M armoured patrol vehicle
• RG32 LTV light tactical vehicle
• RG12 armoured public order police vehicle
• RG31 mine protected personnel carrier
• RG21 mine protected personnel carrier
• RG41 8×8 wheeled armoured combat vehicle

Gear Ratio

Gear Ratio offers custom designed and manufactured components for transmissions and drivelines developed in partnership with selected partners.

Gear Ratio includes:

• Power shift transmissions
• Axles
• Transaxles
• Torque converters
• Transfer gearboxes
• Wheel stations
• Railway traction gears
• Dana Service Centre for Southern Africa


Mechatronics designs and manufactures Fire Directing Systems (FDS), Remotely Controlled Turrets, Weapon Stations, Fire Control Sub-systems (FCS), and various shooting training systems.

Mechatronics products include:

• Tactical Remote Turret (TRT)
• Self-Defence Remotely Operated Weapon (S-DROW)
• Overhead Manned Turret (OMT)
• Remote Cocking Mechanism (BCM)
• Missile Stabilised Turret (MST)
• Mobile-Fully Interactive Rifle Shooting Training (M-First)
• Turrets for attack helicopters
• Fire Control Systems (FCS) Building Blocks
• Aerial Target drone

The popular Casspir, of which production began in 2010, has targeted the African market with more than 200 vehicle-variants sold to African clients and the United Nations. Customers include the African Union, Benin, Burundi, Djibouti, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Denel Vehicle Systems has seen much success with over a billion rand in contracts including a R900 million contract with Emirati NIMR Automotive to manufacture and supply N35 vehicles.

Orders and deliveries according to SIPRI Arms Transfers Database:

India: Ordered 250 Casspir-6 (MPV-I version including production of components and final assembly in India) with delivery from 2018.

Namibia: Ordered 8 RG32 Scout in 2016 with delivery set for 2017.

United Arab Emirates: Ordered 50 N35 in 2015 with ten delivered in 2016. The design of the RG35 was sold to NIMR Automotive, which began manufacturing the vehicle as the N35 in the UAE with 4×4 and 6×6 versions. In November 2015, a R900 million contract was signed with NIMR over the development and supply of the N35 (re-designated as the JAIS), with initial production planned in South African followed by subsequent production in the UAE at Tawazun Industrial Park (60% of NIMR was acquired by Tawazun Holdings in 2010). NIMR range of armoured vehicles will be marketed, distributed, produced, and supported by VOP CZ in the Visegrad countries under a strategic collaboration agreement. The agreement covers the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. On the last day of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, NIMR announced that it would manufacture 1 500 JAIS four-wheel drive and six-wheel drive versions.

Ordered 24 RG31 Nyala (Mortar carrier version with 120mm mortar from Singapore; UAE designation Agrab-2) in 2015 with delivery in 2016 to Abu Dhabi’s International Golden Group (IGG), a defence and security firm.

Angola: Ordered 45 Casspir (Casspir-2000B version; including ARV, command post, ALV, and ambulance versions) in 2013, which were delivered between 2015 and 2016.

Unknown Recipient: Ordered 24 RG31 Nyala (Mortar carrier version) in 2015, which were delivered in 2016.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


The Rooivalk combat support helicopter has proved its performance and operational success in the African theatre. The question now is what the future holds for the current fleet, which is in need of a serious upgrade. With futuristic looks that were ahead of its time, the Rooivalk was based on the South African Oryx helicopter, which in turn was modelled on the French Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma. The Rooivalk is the only vertical take-off and landing combat helicopter in South Africa able to operate from diverse terrain, tight spaces, and in a range of weather conditions. Denel Aviation oversees the design and is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the Rooivalk. There are 11 Rooivalk currently in the MK1 Block 1F standard, with the 12th having sustained a hard landing.

The helicopter has seen much successful flying time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the United Nations as a peacekeeping capability against rebels. In 2016, the Rooivalk fired 1 200 70mm rockets and 11 000 rounds of 20mm ammunition, an increase from the 55 70mm rockets fired in 2013 when the aircraft was first deployed to the DRC. The Rooivalk is designed to carry a variety of missiles depending on operator requirements. It can be armed with a F2 20mm cannon, 38 or 76 FZ70 70mm or FZ90 90mm unguided rockets, four MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles, and eight or 16 Denel precision-guided anti-tank Mokopa or Ingwe laser guided, beam-riding missiles.

Regarding upgrades to the helicopter, the South African Department of Defence is in the process of determining future requirements with Denel having identified upgrades needed for future operational needs (avionics and weapons). Denel may eventually integrate the A-Darter air-to-air missile onto the helicopter. In September 2016 at the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD), Denel and Airbus Helicopters signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance the Rooivalk in phases. The Rooivalk uses Airbus Helicopters technologies for engine and gearbox components. Hensoldt Optronics Argos II airborne observation system (designed and produced in South Africa) will be fitted onto the Rooivalk. In February 2016, Denel divulged that it is considering developing a next generation Rooivalk MK2 at a demonstration at the Denel Overberg Test Range (DOTR) where a Rooivalk fired two Mokopa missiles as part of on-going qualification testing.

The future may indeed be full of promise for the Rooivalk. Successful operations in the DRC are proof that the helicopter is not as obsolete as opinions suggest and despite its dated avionics, is effective in combat operations in Africa. The helicopter market is growing in the developing world and Denel is focusing its attention on smaller players looking for a regional capability. Denel should also be open to partnerships especially from its African allies as a solution to funding issues, marketing the Rooivalk as an African protector.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



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