Operational testing and evaluation of Denel’s Badger infantry combat vehicle are continuing apace with serial local manufacturing expected to start within the next 24 months.
“The evaluation of the prototype vehicles is in process and we have received very positive feedback from the joint teams responsible for the testing,” says Stephan Burger, the CEO of Denel Land Systems.
Preparation for manufacturing has been ramped up after the Armscor and the SANDF placed an order for 238 8X8 armoured wheeled vehicles in November 2013. The full-fleet will be delivered over a ten year period and will rejuvenate the country’s landward defence capabilities.
Burger says the locally-designed and produced Badger is the culmination of decades of research, testing and development that produced a mature vehicle which will provide South African soldiers with unrivalled firepower and mobility and maximum armoured protection.
The various prototypes are being put through their paces at various testing grounds in the Northern Cape such as Armscor’s Alkantpan facility and the SA Army’s combat training centre at Lohatla. The SA Army – as the end-user – and Armscor are involved with the process every step of the way to ensure the final design meet their requirements
The first fully-completed local Badger is expected to roll off Denel’s production facilities in Lyttelton in late 2016. The entire fleet will be delivered over a ten year period and will rejuvenate the country’s landward defence capabilities.
The vehicle’s platform is based on a design from the Finnish company, Patria, which was modified by DLS to meet local user requirements including landmine protection, manoeuvrability and firepower.
A South African team will soon spend a few months in Finland to participate in the manufacturing of the initial vehicles after which the entire production will be migrated to South Africa. During this second stage 70% of the vehicle will be produced in South Africa using local skills, manufacturing capacity, defence technology and subcontractors.
Burger says the contract will create and retain at least 2 000 jobs in the downstream South African defence industry among local subcontractors as well as 200 direct jobs at Denel Land Systems. These jobs cover a wide spectrum from graduate engineers, system designers and artisans to skilled and semi-skilled workers.
“The programme makes a decisive contribution to meet the country industrial objectives with regards to skills development, advanced manufacturing and job creation,” says Burger.
The Programme Manager, Avishkar Govender says the modular infantry system has been developed by Denel Land System in five variants, namely Command, Section, Mortar, Missile and Fire Support derivatives. The common turret structure, fitted with different weapon modules as well as a common platform, with variant specific fits will simplify the logistic support and reduce the cost of through-life support.
The Badger variants are equipped with various weapon systems. The main weapon system, used on the Section and Fire Support Variants, is the 30mm externally-driven cam-operated cannon. This was developed by DLS, along with the 30mm ammunition produced by PMP, another Denel division. This complements PMP’s existing range of world-class small-and medium calibre ammunition.
For the Mortar Variant, a 60mm breech-loading long-range mortar was developed by DLS, along with 60mm long-range NATO ammunition while the Ingwe anti-tank missile system, developed by Denel Dynamics, is used on the Missile Variant.
Burger says the Badger confirms Denel’s position as South Africa’s premier producer of world-class defence products and systems and a strategic partner of the SANDF. It is a “best-of-breed” infantry combat vehicle able to compete with any other vehicle in its class.