Last month, South Africa unveiled the first-ever military plane to be designed and produced by an African country. In an email interview, John Dunne a specialist in defense economics at the Bristol Business School, discussed South Africa’s arms industry.
WPR: What is the recent trajectory and current state of South Africa's domestic arms industry?
John Dunne: South Africa’s arms industry has been through considerable change since the end of apartheid rule. After serving as a comprehensive system supporting the apartheid state, it was allowed to decline under the post-apartheid government, with the state procurement and production entity Armscor being split into a procurement arm of the same name, and a production arm, Denel. Until recently, Denel has been losing money. In a major 1999 arms deal, the South African government chose to procure advanced weapon systems from foreign rather than domestic sources. Though it has been mired in corruption allegations, the deal made it clear that local industry was no longer seen as having a future as a comprehensive defense-industrial base, and foreign involvement in local firms was encouraged.