19 November 2013 by Guy Martin – defenceWeb
The first of 238 Badger infantry combat vehicle will roll off Denel’s production facilities in October 2015, rejuvenating the South African Army’s landward defence capabilities.
Denel received the production contract nearly two months ago from Armscor. Due to delays in ordering the vehicles, the number to be acquired has been reduced from 264 vehicles to 238 as delays pushed up the price tag. The timetable has also slipped slightly, with the first example expected off the production line three months later than was announced last month.
Stephan Burger, the CEO of Denel Land Systems (DLS), said the industrialisation at its facilities in Lyttelton has already started and the manufacturing will commence in early 2015. The full fleet, which will replace the Ratels that are currently used by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), will be delivered by the end of 2022.
“The new Badger ICV is a combination of a locally-designed turret and a Finnish designed vehicle, customised for the unique South African conditions. The system will be produced locally and represents the apex of the South African defence industry,” stated Burger.
“It will provide South Africa’s soldiers with unrivalled firepower, mobility and maximum armoured protection. The SANDF will have an adaptable and flexible vehicle that can be used with equal confidence in both high-intensity warfare and peace support operations.”
Following an open tender process, Denel Land Systems was awarded the contract for the development of a new generation infantry combat vehicle by Armscor in 2007 to replace the 30 year old Ratel fleet.
The first prototype vehicle was delivered to Armscor and the SANDF in 2010. This vehicle is currently being subjected to extensive testing and modifications to meet the changing requirements of the SANDF, Denel said. The R8 billion+ Badger programme will create 2 000 jobs in South Africa, including 200 at Denel Land Systems.
With a budget of R1.3 billion, Denel Land Systems and its sub-contractors have, within five-and-a-half years developed and tested five variants of the Badger, improved its armour capability, developed new weapons for the vehicle, developed crew simulators and logistics support systems.
Burger told defenceWeb that 16 of the 238 Badger chasses will be built in Finland (as the Badger is based on the Finnish Patria vehicle) and the remainder will be made in South Africa, with the transfer of skills and intellectual property (up to 70% of the vehicle will be produced locally).
A notable feature of the Badger is its modular turret system, developed in five variants, namely Section, Command, Mortar, Missile and Fire Support models. A single turret structure, fitted with different weapon modules, will simplify the logistic support and reduce the cost of through-life support, Denel said.
The Badger variants are equipped with either a 30mm externally-driven cam-operated cannon, a locally developed 60 mm breech-loading long-range mortar both developed by DLS, a 12.7mm machine gun or the Ingwe anti-tank missile system developed by Denel Dynamics. These weapon systems are integrated into the DLS turrets. The breech loading mortar is water cooled, allowing a high rate of fire. Burger said it was one of a few such designs in the world but the only type of its size.
“Although the development phase is still in process, we are confident that the Badger will generate considerable international interest in the vehicle and open a number of prospects for future exports that could result in the injection of foreign direct investment into South Africa,” said Burger.
The Badger project has already resulted in Malaysia ordering R3.5 billion worth of turrets and weapons from Denel, developed for the Badger. Burger told defenceWeb that he expects the total Badger system to be exported. He said the vehicle’s uniqueness is a world requirement. Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America are target areas.