Denel Land Systems (DLS) is planning to roll out the first Badger infantry combat vehicle (ICV) intended for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in October 2015.
Around 238 8x8 Badger vehicles were ordered by the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor) from Denel under a multi-billion contract for replacement of SANDF's 30-year old Ratel 6x6 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) fleet, in October 2013.
Denel Land Systems CEO Stephan Burger said the company has already started industrialisation at its facilities in Lyttelton, with plans to commence production in early 2015.
''The system will be produced locally and represents the apex of the South African defence industry,'' Burger said.
''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.''
Approximately 70% of the vehicle is scheduled to be manufactured in South Africa, contributing towards the long-term sustainability of the entire local defence industry by creating and retaining at least 2,000 jobs among local sub-contractors, as well as 200 direct jobs at DLS.
The Badger is originally Patria-built platform modified to address South African Army's needs with regards to landmine protection, manoeuvrability and firepower, and also features a modular turret, developed by DLS in section, command, mortar, missile and fire support variants.
The vehicles are scheduled to be equipped with either a 30mm externally-driven cam-operated cannon, a locally manufactured 60mm breech-loading long-range mortar, a 12.7mm machine gun or the Ingwe anti-tank missile system.
Commenting on the vehicle, Burger said: ''The SANDF will have an adaptable and flexible vehicle that can be used with equal confidence in both high-intensity warfare and peace supporting operations.''
Delivery of full fleet is scheduled to take place by the end of 2022.
Image: Ratel 6x6 infantry fighting vehicles of the South African National Defence Force. Photo: courtesy of Alain Servaes.