South African defence IP on offer at AAD 2022 exhibition – defenceWeb

The Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition is always chock full of physical exhibits, but not as clearly evident is the vast amount of intellectual property (IP) that is also available to countries around the world.
The South African defence industry’s IP is one of its greatest assets, but is something that is not being leveraged as much as it could be. Local defence companies often do not have the funding or the partnerships to complete the development of new equipment, leaving it dormant. Examples include Denel Land Systems’ G7 105 mm howitzer or Saab Grintek Defence’s LEDS 150 active protection system.
Armscor, the Department of Defence (DoD), the Aerospace & Defence Masterplan, National Defence Industry Council (NDIC) and other stakeholders have repeatedly singled out the leveraging of intellectual property as a way of generating revenue for South Africa and injecting much-needed cash into the industry. At its last session, the NDIC tasked Armscor to develop a comprehensive strategy that would detail the process for exploiting the IP assets of the Department of Defence. Once designed, discussed with key stakeholders and approved by the DoD, the process will be published for cognisance and action by the defence industry, which will be able to submit expressions of interest by the end of this financial year.
The industry has over the years generated a huge amount of intellectual property through Armscor on behalf of the Department of Defence and the industry could benefit immensely from exploiting that. AAD 2022 is an ideal opportunity for foreign countries and companies to view this IP first hand and explore options of taking it forward.
There is huge potential in South Africa’s defence IP: a study done by Armscor in 2016 claimed that the then portfolio of IP was worth more than R400 billion if industrialised. This could create at least 10 000 direct jobs and 40 000 indirect jobs. This value will have increased as more IP has been added to Armscor’s portfolio over the last six years.
The Aerospace and Defence Masterplan has called for an immediate review of the South African intellectual property portfolio, and a reconsideration of some elements of the Intellectual Property Act to promote commercialisation and industrialisation. It notes that there is significant defence intellectual property that is unused and there is very real and valuable international demand for the technologies linked to this intellectual property.
These technologies include air-to-air missile technology, unmanned aerial vehicles, and anti-material weapons but there are other, equally valuable technologies which, if the State partners effectively with the private sector, can be swiftly deployed to unlock value for South Africa.
Much of South Africa’s untapped defence IP lies with Denel, which although in August the company settled outstanding staff wages, it remains in a precarious situation. Amongst the products Denel owns the IP of include the Umkhonto surface-to-air missile, A-Darter short range air-to-air missile, Mokopa anti-tank missile, Ingwe anti-tank missile, and Marlin prototype air-to-air and surface-to-air missile.
Denel has developed several unmanned aerial vehicles (Seeker 200, Seeker 400, and Bateleur) as well as the Badger infantry combat vehicle, G6 self-propelled artillery system, and RG series of armoured vehicles. Various small arms and mortars have been produced, including the R4/5 assault rifle, SS-77 series of machineguns, NTW-20 anti-materiel rifle, and Inkunzi/Inkunzi Strike anti-material grenade launcher. Denel is also the OEM of the Oryx and Rooivalk helicopters.
Aside from Denel, Armscor holds significant amounts of intellectual property and has developed an IP Strategy that seeks to ensure that DoD IP is identified, protected and exploited to the benefit of the DoD and the country at large.
Denel is producing little at present, and is spending almost nothing on research and development – much of its value lies dormant in its IP, but companies need to act fast before its IP ages too much. Companies like Al Tariq, Edge and SAMI in the Middle East have already made extensive use of Denel and South African IP to design guided munitions and unmanned aerial vehicles, amongst others, while South African expertise has been used by IMUT in Egypt to manufacture armoured vehicles, and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) has set up munitions factories in countries around the world. South African companies like EWI2 have assisted entities like China’s Norinco develop armoured vehicles.
The Africa Aerospace and Defence 2022 exhibition, which runs from 21 to 25 September at Air Force Base Waterkloof, is a chance for the industry to come together and show off its wares – both tangible and intangible.
defenceWeb has been appointed to produce the Show Daily Magazine for AAD 2022. The magazines will be in digital format and will be shared with every exhibitor, visitor and delegate. To contribute editorial content, contact [email protected] or to advertise contact [email protected]

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