Analyst: Mark interns: Anya and Rami

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TASK: South Africa Military Assessment


INTERNS: Anya and Rami


  • SANDF has had to deal with radical downsizing and restructuring like the militaries of many other nations. It also had to adapt to a domestic revolution that brought an end to apartheid.

  • The demands placed on the armed forces ranged from integrating tens of thousands of members of regular and guerrilla formations under democratic control to participating in peace operations.

  • The former military was closely identified with the policy of apartheid

  • The old military followed the British model: a regimen enforced without qualification and symbols of discipline such as drill and ceremony, dress regulations, and good timekeeping.

  • South Africa’s arms industry became one of the largest in the developing countries.

The South African Defense Force before 1994

  • Before 1963, South Africa depended heavily on arms imports. By the 1970’s South Africa military had become a modern force with advanced weaponry

  • The SADF consisted of the army, the air force, the navy and the military health service. The SADF was organized along the lines of a conventional force and a territorial or counter-insurgency force.

  • The SADF was a significant military power in Southern Africa and could field three army divisions supported by strong and sophisticated air and naval power.

  • These forces relied heavily on part-time soldiers and conscripts (white male national service conscripts that served for an initial period of two years and then joined the part-time force for another ten years).

  • The two-year obligation totaled, at its peak, 100,000 conscripts. This system allowed for the rapid expansion of the SADF if and when required.


  • The strategic posture of the SADF was based on a pre-emptive, operationally offensive approach, and the force was also designed around this approach.

  • The fundamental principle was that all threats had to be met outside South African territory by highly mobile forces with high firepower and strategic reach.


  • South Africa maintains an all volunteer set of armed forces, which represents the best-equipped and most advanced military on the African continent. South Africa has the largest defense budget in Southern Africa.

  • Based on the White Paper policy direction, the Defiance Review (1998) describes the national strategy for the defense and protection of the state and its people through the hierarchy of:

  1. Political, economic and military co-operation with other states

  2. The prevention, management and resolution of conflict through nonviolent means

  3. The use or threat of force as a measure of last resort.

  • The overemphasis on the primary function of the SANDF as the defense of South Africa against external military aggression

  • The hierarchy for the defense of South Africa:

  1. Prevention of conflict and war
  2. Containment of conflict and war

  3. Employment of military force as the last option


  • The SANDF is today extensively deployed in peace support operations in Africa and is coping well with this new challenge. This is an important development because these deployments will greatly enhance the skills basis of the new defense establishment through the exigencies of such operations.

  • These operations will serve as a testing ground, but also as a learning experience for the new SANDF in the fields of operational planning, intelligence, logistic support and management of deployed personnel.

  • In support of South African, AU and international efforts at conflict prevention and management, the SANDF has become increasingly engaged in peace support operations on the continent.

  • The SANDF is, however, not well equipped for these types of operations as its force design is predicated on short logistic lines for highly mechanized mobile forces prepared to fight in defense of the territorial integrity of the country and not for out of-area force projection and support in distant places.

The SANDF Procurement Package

  • The defense procurement packages of recent years have reversed the decline of the South African defense industry seen in the 1990s, but years of low investment have left the sector troubled for the foreseeable future.

  • The massive arms deal signed in 1999 should ensure a steady flow of high-technology weapons platforms arriving in South Africa over the coming years.

  • In 1998, the government initiated a strategic rearmament program. This was motivated by growing regional instability and the strategic importance of the defense industry.

  • The bulk of the acquisition budget has been firmly focused on the major procurement deal struck in 1999 for

      1. Four MEKO-class A-200 patrol corvettes

      2. Three Class 209 Type-1400 submarines

      3. 30 Agusta A-109M light utility helicopters

      4. 28 Gripen fighters

      5. 24 Hawk training aircraft

  • In December 1999, South Africa announced signing of the contracts, with a payment schedule spread over an 8-14 year period for affordability.

  • This represents the continued modernization program being undertaken, and many argue that this money will be better spent than the funds for ‘big ticket’ procurement, given the desire to operate a rapid reaction-style armed force.

  • In the view of industry, this large acquisition program will also revitalize the defense industrial base, which had been strongly affected by the continuing decrease in South Africa’s defense budget since 1989.

List of Items by Country


  • Three Class 209 Type-1400 diesel-electric submarines from German Submarine Consortium

  • Four MEKO-class A-200 patrol corvettes from German Frigate Consortium


  • Thirty Italian 30 Agusta A-109M light utility helicopters


  • Nine advanced light fighter aircraft (Gripen), with the option to acquire another nineteen more in 2004 – total 28


  • British Aerospace (BAE) Hawk fighter trainer aircraft, with an option to purchase a further twelve over a period of six years from 2003-2008 – total 24


  • Delivery of the weapon systems acquired through the strategic armaments procurement program is on track.

  • Four frigates were commissioned into the SA Navy by the end of 2007. They will be fully operational once the maritime helicopters have been delivered and integrated.

In service

  • The first of three submarine

  • 12 of 30 light utility helicopters

  • 11 of 24 trainer aircraft

  • 12 light utility helicopters and eight trainer aircraft will follow during 2008/09.


  • In 1999, the program amounted to R29.8 billion.

  • In 2001, as a result of currency fluctuations, the cost escalated to R66.7 billion.

  • By 2010, rand liability could reach R158 billion.
  • By 2019, when final payments are due, amount is projected to rise to R370 billion

Toll on Budget

  • To pay for this package, military spending was slated to increase from R10.72 billion in fiscal year 1999/2000 to R13.76 billion in 2000/01 and then up to R15.27 billion the following year.

  • The R3 billion increase in the defense budget between the 1999/2000 and the 2000/01 budget was due to this procurement.

  • Military spending was scheduled to rise to R16.8 billion in 2002/03 with a further increase to R17.8 billion in 2003/04 and by FY.2006/07 defense spending rose to R23.9 billion


  • These acquisitions are aligned with the force design of the Defense Review, but it can be argued that they did not take cognizance of real priorities and trends in the defense budget and expenditure.

  • They favor the air force and navy above the army, while it is the army that is at the forefront of deployments into Africa.

  • They also tie the defense budget down to a high expenditure on capital equipment, while the operating budget for force development, force preparation and force employment is shrinking.

  • This has led to many problems vis-à-vis maintaining standards and a general deterioration in the preparedness of the SANDF.

Current Overview of SANDF
ACTIVE: 62,082

  • Army: 37,141
  • Navy: 6,244

  • Air: 10,653

  • South African Military Health Service: 8,044

CIVILIAN: 12,382

  • Army 6,452

  • Navy 2,000

  • Air 2,144

  • South African Military Health Service: 1,786

RESERVE: 15,071

  • Army 12,264

  • Navy 861

  • Air 831

  • South African Military Health Service Reserve 1,115


  • Formations under direct command and control of SANDF Chief of Joint Operations: 9 Joint Operational Tactical HQs, tps are provided when necessary by permanent and reserve force units from all services and SF Bde.

  • A new army structure is planned with 2 divisions (1 mechanized, 1 motorized) with 10 bdes (1 armd, 1 mech, 7 motorized and 1 rapid reaction). General Staff branches (GS1-7 ) being reintroduced (Mar 2009); Training, Support and Land Commands with the 10 Bdes established (Mar 2010); re-establish Divisional HQ (Mar 2011).

  • HQ: 2 bde

  • Tk: 1 bn

  • Armd recce: 1 bn

  • Mech inf: 2 bn
  • SF: 1 bde (2 SF bn under strength)

  • Mot inf: 10 bn (1 bn roles as AB, 1 as Amph)

  • Arty: 1 bn

  • ADA: 1 bn

  • Engr: 1 regt


  • AORH 1 Drakensberg with 1 spt hel (capacity 4 LCU; 100 troops)

  • AGOS 1 (use for Antarctic survey, operated by private co. for Dept of Environment)

  • AGHS 1 (UK Hecla)

  • YTM 3


  • Bases Located at Durban Salisbury Island (Naval Station), Pretoria, Simon’s Town


MBT 167: 34 Olifant 1A; 133 Olifant; 1B in store

RECCE 176: 82 Rooikat-76; 94 in store

AIFV 1,200: 534 Ratel-20 Mk III-20/ Ratel-60 Mk III-60/Ratel-90 Mk III-90 FSV 90; 666 in store

APC (W) 810: 370 Casspir; 440 Mamba

ARTY 1,467

SP 155mm 43: 2 G-6; 41 in store

TOWED 147: 140mm 75 G2 in store; 155mm 72: 6 G-5; 66 in store

MRL 127mm 51: 26 Valkiri Mk I in store (24 tube); 21 Valkiri, Mk II MARS Bataleur (40 tube); 4 in store (40 tube)

MOR 1,226: 81mm 1,190 (incl some SP); 120mm 36

AT MSL MANPATS 52: 16 ZT-3 Swift; 36 in store; 17

Milan ADT/ER

RCL 106mm 100 M-40A1 (some SP)

RL 92mm FT-5


SP 23mm 36 Zumlac

TOWED 35mm 40 GDF-002

UAV TACTICAL up to 4 Vulture

RADAR LAND ESR 220 Kameelperd; 2 Thales Page
Reserve Organizations

  • Regular Reserve 12,264 reservists (under strength)

  • Tk: 3 bn

  • Armd Recce: 2 bn

  • Recce: 1 bn

  • Mech Inf: 6 bn

  • Mot Inf: 16 bn (incl 2 dual roles: 1 AB, 1 Amph

  • Lt Inf: 3 converting to mot inf

  • AB: 1 bn

  • Arty: 7 regt

  • Engr: 2 regt

  • AD: 4 regt


  • Navy Fleet HQ and Naval base located at Simon’s Town;

  • Naval Office located at Pretoria; Naval stations

  • Durban and Port Elizabeth


SUBMARINES TACTICAL SSK 3 Type 209 with 8 533mm TT


FSG 4 Valour (MEKO A200) with 2 quad (8 eff.) with MM-40 Exocet ASSM tactical; 2 octuple VLS with Umkhonto-IR naval SAM, (capacity 1 Lynx Srs 300 Super Lynx ASW/ ASUW hel)

PFM 2 Warrior
(Il Reshef) each with 6 Skerpioen tactical SSM (Il Gabriel); (additional vessel in reserve)

PCI 24: 21 Namacurra; 3 craft less than 100 tonnes

MHC 2 River (Ge Navors) (Limited operational roles;

training and dive support); (additional vessel in reserve)

Ground Defense


  • Air some SAAF regt (total: 12 (security) Air sqn)


  • 2 Radar (static) located at Ellisras and Mariepskop; 2 (mobile long-range); 4 (tactical mobile)


  • Radar air

  • control sectors

  • Located at Pretoria, Hoedspruit

Air Force

  • Air Force office, Pretoria, and 4 op gps

  • Command & Control: 2 Airspace Control Sectors,

  • 1 Mobile Deployment Wg

  • 1 Air Force Command Post


  • Multi-role 1 sqn with JAS-39C/D Gripen forming at Makhado

  • Tkr/EW/tpt 1 sqn with B-707-320

  • Tpt: 1 (VIP) sqn with B-737 BBJ; CE-550 Citation II; Falcon 50; Falcon 900; 1 sqn with C-47TP (Basler Turbo-67) (6 maritime, 4 tpt, 1 PR/EW trg); 2 sqns with C-130B;C-130BZ Hercules; CN-235; CASA 212; Cessna 185; 1 tpt and trg school with Beech 200 Super King Air; Beech 300 Super King Air; Cessna 208 Caravan I; PC-12 Aviocar; 9 AF Reserve sqns with ε130 private light tpt ac

  • Tpt hel: 4 mixed sqn with Oryx (AS-332B) Super Puma; BK-11; A109UH; 1 hel trg school with Oryx and A109

  • Hel 1 (cbt spt) sqn with CSH-1 Rooivalk

  • ASuW/SAR 4: Super Lynx 300 deployed on Navy Valour class frigates

  • Trg 1 (Lead-in Ftr Trg) sqn with Hawk Mk120; 1 basic flying trg school with PC-7 MkII Astra; 1air nav school


AIRCRAFT 12 combat capable

Multi-role: 4 JAS-39D Gripen (further 22 Gripen 17 JAS-39C, 5 -39D – to be delivered by 2012)

LIFT 20 Hawk Mk120 (24 total on order)

TPT 51: 3 B-707-320 (only 1/2 op); 1 B-737 BBJ; 3 Beech 200 Super King Air; 1 Beech 300 Super King Air; 2 C-130B Hercules; 7 C-130BZ Hercules; 11 C-47TP (Basler Turbo-67); 4 CASA 212 Aviocar; 2 CE-550 Citation II; 1 CN-235; 13 Cessna 185; 2 Falcon 50; 1 Falcon 900

UTL 12: 11 Cessna 208 Caravan I; 1 PC-12

TRG 53 PC-7 Mk II Astra

ASLT 11 CSH-1 Rooivalk* (plus 1 that crashed and may be beyond repair)

ASuW/SAR 4 Super Lynx 300

SPT 39 Oryx (AS-332B) Super Puma

UTL 29: 8 BK-117; 21A109UH (total 30 on order)

UAV Seeker II

AD SAM capability closed down

MSL AAM V3C Darter; V4 R-Darter; A-Darter being

  • procured for Gripen



  • AU • AUSTF • Operation Curiculum 1,024


  • Operation Vimbazela (bilateral support) 56

Democratic Republic of Congo

  • UN • MONUC • Operation Mistral 1,158; 15 obs; 1 inf bn; 3 Engr coy; 1 CSS coy; 1 avn unit, (air med evacuation team, air base control det)

  • Operation Teutonic 29


  • UN • UNMIN 1 obs


  • UN • UNAMID 587; 13 obs; 1 inf bn


  • AU • Operation Bongane 2 obs


  • 2009 Military Balance, South Africa
  • South Africa Defense & Security Report Q4 2009

  • Department of Defense FY 2006- 2007 Annual Report

  • Westhuizen, 2005

  • Chapter Nine: The post-apartheid South African military: Transforming with the nation, Evolutions & Revolutions

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