South African National Defence Force

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comprises the armed forces of South Africa. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. They are in turn accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Defence Department.

South African National Defence Force
10 other official names:
  • Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag (Afrikaans)
  • IButho leSewula Afrika lezokuVikela leliZweloke (Southern Ndebele)
  • UMkhosi woKhuselo weSizwe waseMzantsi Afrika (Xhosa)
  • UMbutho Wezokuvikela WaseNingizimu Afrika (Zulu)
  • Umbutfo Wetekuvikela Wavelonkhe waseNingizimu Afrika (Swazi)
  • Sešole sa Tšhireletšo sa Bosetšhaba sa Afrika Borwa (Northern Sotho)
  • Lebotho la Naha la Tshireletso la Aforika Borwa (Sotho)
  • Sesole sa Tshireletso ya Naga ya Aforika Borwa (Tswana)
  • Vutho ra Rixaka ra Vusirheleli ra Afrika-Dzonga (Tsonga)
  • Tshiimiswa tsha Mmbi ya Vhupileli ya Afurika Tshipembe (Venda)
Emblem of the SANDF
Flag of the SANDF
MottoFor the brave, for the proud
Founded1 July 1912
(111 years, 9 months)
(as Union Defence Force)
Current form1994
Service branches South African Army
 South African Navy
 South African Air Force
South African Military Health Service
HeadquartersPretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Commander-in-chiefPresident Cyril Ramaphosa
Minister of Defence and Military VeteransThandi Modise
Chief of the SANDFGeneral Rudzani Maphwanya
Military age18–49
ConscriptionNo (abolished in 1994) [1]
Available for
military service
10,354,769 males, age 18–49 (2005),
10,626,550 females, age 18–49 (2005)
Fit for
military service
4,927,757 males, age 18–49 (2005),
4,609,071 females, age 18–49 (2005)
Reaching military
age annually
512,407 males (2005),
506,078 females (2005)
Active personnel71 235 (2021/22)[2][3]: 108 
Reserve personnel29 350 (2020/2021)[4]
BudgetUS$2.8 billion[5]
Percent of GDP0.7% (2023)
Domestic suppliers
Foreign suppliers
Related articles
RanksSouth African military ranks

The military as it exists today was created in 1994,[6][7] following South Africa's first nonracial election in April of that year and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force and also integrated uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) guerilla forces.

History edit

Integration process edit

In 1994, the SANDF took over the personnel and equipment from the SADF and integrated forces from the former Bantustan homelands forces,[8]: 5  as well as personnel from the former guerrilla forces of some of the political parties involved in South Africa, such as the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Pan Africanist Congress's Azanian People's Liberation Army and the Self-Protection Units of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). The Azanian People's Organisation's AZANLA was invited but refused to be integrated and to this day remains the only guerrilla force not integrated into the current force.[6]

As of 2004, the integration process was considered complete, with retaining personnel, structure, and equipment from the SADF. However, due to integration problems, financial constraints, and other issues, the SANDF faced capability constraints.[citation needed]

The South African Commando System was a civil militia active until 2008, based upon local units from the size of company to battalion.[9] In its final years its role was to support the South African Police Service during internal operations. During such deployments the units came under SAPS control.

1999 re-armament edit

In 1999, a R30 billion (US$4.8 billion) purchase of weaponry by the South African Government was finalised, which has been subject to allegations of corruption.[10][11] The South African Department of Defence's Strategic Defence Acquisition purchased frigates, submarines, light utility helicopters, lead-in fighter trainer and multirole combat aircraft.[12]

Decline edit

Systemic public-sector corruption, State capture, (2011/12 to 2017) had a debilitating effect on Denel and consequently the country's defence capability.[13][14][15] In 2014 some 62% of the SANDF's facilities and housing were deemed to be in unacceptable condition, of which 4% were hazardous, another 2% fit to be demolished, and some occupied by squatters. This contributed to low soldier morale and poor discipline.[16] Equipment became largely obsolete due to inadequate maintenance, while renewal stalled with devastating effect on the defence industry. According to the Department of Defence's 2014 Defence Review, the SANDF was "in a critical state of decline".[17] A series of cuts to its capital and operating budgets compromised a number of capabilities.[18]

In 2017 and 2021 respectively, 83[19] and some 200 to 500 out-of-service military vehicles were destroyed in fires at the Wallmansthal vehicle depot,[20] and a spokesperson was not available to liaise with the press.[21] Notwithstanding, it was reported to parliament in 2022, that technical skills gained from personnel of the Cuban RAF facilitated the preservation and maintenance of over 600,000 infantry weapons.[22] Their mechanical and vehicular skills allowed for the inspection, repair, refurbishment and/or de-activation of vehicles in the special forces and the four arms of service fleets, besides the implementation of stock control and technical support measures, and the rehabilitation of army workshops and work stations.

After submissions to parliament by Armscor, earlier in 2022, a spokesman for the official opposition, the DA, stated that the country's defence capability had been weakened to the extent that it was unprepared for a serious security challenge.[13] The Navy and Air Force were highlighted as easy targets, as only one of the four frigates were serviceable, and none of the submarines, while only 46 of 217 fixed-wing aircraft were serviceable (with all VIP aircraft grounded[23]), and only 27 of 87 helicopters. Budget and hardware constraints also compromised flight training and exercises, besides the retention of experienced pilots and personnel.[14] The defence minister's appointment of an Air Force chief, Wiseman Mbambo, who cannot fly a plane and doesn't have a pilot's licence was also criticized.[24] The SANDF had only 14 infantry battalions consisting of 12,000 soldiers in aggregate, of which five were deployed in peacekeeping and border patrol, leaving only nine to serve as home or rapid response units.[25]

In February 2022 the power supply to its Navy headquarters in Pretoria was disconnected when its municipal taxes were in arrears to the amount of R3.2 million.[26] During the same month Sandu threatened legal action if the dilapidated Air Force headquarters building in Pretoria were not repaired to facilitate acceptable working conditions.[27] In March 2022 the SANDF and Navy were locked out of several office buildings in Pretoria due to rent defaults by the Department of Public Works.[28] 63% of the 2022/23 defence budget was allocated to employee compensation.[25]

In 2022 the SANDF was involved in multiple corruption scandals totaling R2 billion; one of which involved 56 SANDF personnel two of whom were generals all of whom were suspended.[29] An additional 13 SANDF personal from the Logistics, Joint Operations and Special Forces divisions were convicted for corruption in another incident.[29]

Domestic operations edit

A SANDF helicopter being refuelled during the annual game census

As of 2012, the SANDF was involved in several internal operations, including:[30]

  • Safeguarding the border (Operation CORONA)
  • Disaster relief and assistance (Operation CHARIOT)
  • Safety and security (Operation PROSPER)
  • Ridding the country of illegal weapons, drug dens, prostitution rings and other illegal activities (Operation FIELA)

In 2021, SANDF forces were deployed in response to the civil unrest following the jailing on corruption charges of former president Jacob Zuma. By 14 July, over 25,000 troops had been deployed.[31] The largest single deployment of the South African National Defence Force since 1994.[32]

International operations edit

SANDF paratroops

The SANDF partakes in UN peacekeeping missions, mostly on the African continent. As part of the SADC standby force it partakes in peace missions in the DRC and northern Mozambique.[25] It also provides foreign election security when needed.

Organisation and structure edit

Overall command is vested in an officer-designated Chief of the SANDF (CSANDF). Appointed from any of the Arms of Service, they are the only person in the SANDF at the rank of General or Admiral, and is accountable to the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, who heads the Department of Defence.

The structure of the SANDF is depicted below:[33]

SANDF Organisation Chart 2019

In 2010, a Defence Amendment Bill created a permanent National Defence Force Service Commission (NDFSC), a body that will advise the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans on the improvement of conditions of service of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).[34]

Members of the Commission include the Chiefs of the service arms, as well as the Chief of Defence Intelligence and the Chief of Joint Operations.

Four armed services make up the forces of the SANDF:[35]

The Joint Operations Division is responsible for co-ordinating all Joint Operations involving any or all of the four services. The South African Special Forces Brigade is the only organic unit under the direct command of the Joint Operations division. Unlike most other special forces it is not part of the Army or any other branch of the SANDF.[36]

Publications and access to records edit

The SANDF publishes (or provides links) to documents describing its strategy, plans, performance, white papers and related government acts. Under the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2000 (PAIA), the SANDF also provides access to current and historical information the SANDF holds and provides a manual[37] with procedures for obtaining access. Some categories of records are "automatically available" that are "available without a person having to request access in terms of the PAIA. These records can be accessed at the Department of Defence Archives and include operational records of the 1st World War, 2nd World War, Korean War, and establishment of the Union Defence Force 1912.

Military equipment and industry edit

Military equipment edit

The SANDF possesses various foreign and domestically produced weapons. Most of its equipment comes from its own domestic military industry and some gear comes from foreign countries.

Defence industry edit

South Africa's arms industry dates back to 1968 and was established primarily as a response to the international sanctions by the United Nations against South Africa due to apartheid, which began in 1963 and prevented the country from acquiring foreign combat systems until 1990.[38] South Africa's arms industry is the only arms industry in Africa capable of producing home-grown sophisticated military equipment, as of today it is considered one of the most advanced in the non-Western world rivalling great nations such as the USA, Russia, China and the European Union. The wide-ranging locally-made South African weapons and combat systems include Transport and Attack helicopters, Armoured personnel carriers, Main battle tanks, Missiles, Cruise missiles, Unmanned aerial vehicle, Military aircraft, infantry equipment and ships.[39] Although the South African defence budget has been shrinking over the years and is now less than 1% of GDP against the international average of 2%, the military industry is largely exporting to survive and continues to develop world class military hardware.[40] In 2021 The South African military industry exported R3.3 billion worth of weapons, ammunition and military equipment to 67 countries around the world.[41]

Future edit

Project Hoefyster edit

The Badger IFV will provide the South African Army with unrivalled firepower, mobility and maximum armoured protection[42]

Project Hoefyster was launched in 2013 to partially replace the South African Army's ageing Ratel fleet with around 240 new generation Badger infantry fighting vehicles in a number of different variants over the next decade. A contract was placed with Denel Land Systems in 2013 for service entry by 2022.[43]

The Badger is being produced in nine different variants including a mortar variant, missile variant, section variant, signal variant, ambulance variant, command variant, fire support variant, and artillery variant. The section and fire support variants will be equipped with the 30 mm (30×173 mm) GI-30 cannon locally developed by Denel Land Systems.[44]

Deliveries were scheduled between 2019 and 2022 but problems at Denel have caused delay's with no vehicles delivered to the South African Army, Armscor has recommended cancelling the contract and the funds to be spent on Ratel upgrades instead.[45] Paramount Group believes a better alternative is to supply its Mbombe 8 infantry fighting vehicles to the South African Army which is a similar vehicle to the Badger as an immediately available and alternative to the long-delayed Badger vehicle.[46] In Armed Forces Day 2023 South Africa an unknown number of Badger IFVs was seen in service with the South African Army.[47]

Projects Sepula and Vistula edit

The South African Army has deferred the acquisition of trucks and armoured vehicles to replace its Samil and Casspir fleets under Projects Sepula and Vistula as it explores domestic refurbishment and production. Project Vistula aimed to replace the Samil 50/100 4×4/6×6 truck fleet and Project Sepula aimed to replace the Casspir and Mamba armoured personnel carrier fleets of the South African Army.[48]  

Projects Biro and Hotel edit

Warrior-class multi-mission inshore patrol vessel

Project Biro will supply three new Warrior-class Multirole Inshore Patrols Vessels (MMIPVS) to the South African Navy to take over and replace the maritime coastal patrol function currently executed by the obsolete Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) SAS Isaac Dyobha and SAS Makhanda.[49]

The second future acquisition project for the SA Navy falls under Project Hotel, Project Hotel was initiated to replace the ageing SAS Protea, the SA Navy's current hydrographic vessel which is more than 50 years old. The delivery of the South African Navy's new Hydrographic Survey Vessel under Project Hotel has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2021 South African unrest, the vessel is expected to be delivered sometime between the end of 2023 or early 2024. The vessel will be equipped with the latest survey equipment which includes multi- and single beam echo-sounders as well as side-scan sonar and a seabed sampler to recover material from the seafloor and underlying sub-strata for detailed analytical and testing purposes.[50]

Transport fleet upgrade edit

The South African Air Force's top priority is to acquire new strategic airlift aircraft to replace its ageing C-130BZ Hercules.

In 2005 South Africa became a partner in the A400M airlifter programme when it purchased eight (with an option for a further eight) of the transport aircraft. The first aircraft was due for delivery to the SAAF in 2010 but this was delayed with the aircraft scheduled to be delivered from 2013 or early 2014 onwards. The contract was terminated in 5 November 2009 due to extensive cost escalation and delays in the contractual delivery time.[51]

As of 2023 The SAAF is deciding whether to upgrade its C-130BZ Hercules fleet or accept retired C-130Hs from the United States which would also need to be upgraded.[52] The United Kingdom had offered to sell South Africa surplus C-130J Super Hercules while the US was offering excess C-130Hs.[53]

Rooivalk Mk II edit

The Rooivalk attack helicopter

The South African Air Force plans to upgrade its current Rooivalk Mk I fleet to Mk II status. Around 2015, Denel has been promoting the Mk II upgrade of the Rooivalk for the South African Air Force. Support came from the South African government as the South African Air Force recognised a need for an upgrade as a result of known obsolescence. Future Rooivalk upgrades would introduce new modern avionics, update the weapon system and increase reproducibility. The next generation Rooivalk would feature better sights, improved firepower, greater payload and better survivability and other improvements.[54] A minimum of 75 Rooivalk Mk II are planned to be produced.[55]

Project Outcome edit

The Umkhonto Missile System

The Umkhonto GBADS is a South African vertical launching system that is being developed for the South African Army's ground-based air defence system (GBADS) requirement under Project Outcome.[56]

The missile system is intended to provide all-round protection for the armed forces against airborne threats, including attack aircraft, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Denel Dynamics conducted the first test launch of the Umkhonto GBL system for the South African Army in October 2013. The system successfully fired three Umkhonto missiles during the test. In September 2016.

The naval variant of the Umkhonto missile system is in service with the navies of South Africa, Finland and Algeria.[57]

Project Assegaai edit

The South African Air Force is getting the Denel Dynamics A-Darter fifth generation air-to-air missile under Project Assegaai, which will replace the interim Diehl Defence IRIS-T short range missile. An order for the 20 kilometre range A-Darter was placed in March 2015, with deliveries of operational missiles scheduled for 2017. Both South African Gripens and Hawk Mk 120s are being fitted with the missile while Brazil, which is a partner in development, may also acquire the weapon for its Gripen E/Fs.[58]

UAV acquisitions edit

At the end of November 2022 the South African Air Force ordered Milkor 380 UCAVs. The Milkor 380 (MALE) UAV is the largest UAV to be manufactured in South Africa and on the African continent. It has an endurance of up to 35 hours of flight time and a payload capacity of 210 kg.[59]

The South African Army is also seeking to acquire unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance and target acquisition.[60]

Project Syne edit

The Navy's four Valour-class frigates will receive a mid-life upgrade under Project Syne from 2017-18. Work will take place over a decade to extend the vessels' service lives beyond 2035. It is expected that the guns, combat management suite and radar system will be upgraded, amongst other items.[61][62]

Project Radiate edit

All four branches of the South African National Defence Force are receiving new digital tactical communications equipment for complete interoperability between services under Project Radiate. Initial production orders for the complete system were placed with Reutech in the 2014/15 financial year and the first production equipment was due for delivery in the first quarter of 2016. Various components include HF, V/UHF, short range and intra platform communication systems.[63]

Foreign military relations edit

Brazil edit

Brazil-South Africa military relations have traditionally been close, in 2022 the Brazilian Armed Forces provided military assistance to the SANDF in the form of warfare training and logistics.[64] Brazil and South Africa also collaborated on the A-Darter air-to-air missile project which will be used on both their JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets. Both countries are looking to further cooperate in missile development, notably on the 100 km range Marlin radar-guided air-to-air weapon which will feature a radar seeker head and will be developed into an all-weather surface-to-air missile (SAM) that can be used by South African and Brazilian Navies, In addition South Africa is also looking at collaborating with Brazil on a high speed target drone and a vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle (VTOL UAV).[65] Both countries are part of the IBSA Dialogue Forum.

India edit

India and South Africa have also developed military cooperation, trading arms and joint exercises like IBSAMAR, which started in 2008 between India, Brazil, and South Africa and programs to train forces. During the 1990s South Africa developed the Bhim self-propelled howitzer to meet the Indian Army's requirements for self-propelled artillery units.[66] South Africa is looking at collaboration with Indian defence companies after a trade visit identified areas of cooperation that include ammunition, landward weapons, particularly artillery, cybersecurity, electronic warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics and artificial intelligence.[67] Both countries are part of the IBSA Dialogue Forum.

Personnel edit

  Black (75%)
  White (11.4%)
  Indian (1.3%)
  Coloureds (12.3%)

31 March 2019, the demographics of service personnel[68]: 165 

On 31 March 2019, the demographics of service personnel were as follows:[68]: 165 

  Males (69.4%)
  Females (30.6%)

31 March 2019, gender split in the SANDF[68]: 402 

The gender split in the SANDF as of 31 March 2019 is as follows:[68]

  • 51,684 men (69.4%)
  • 22,824 women (30.6%)

The target for female recruits increased to 40% in 2010.[69]

Gallery edit

2012 Defence Review edit

The South African Defence Review 2012 is a policy review process carried out by a panel of experts, chaired by retired politician and former Minister of Defence, Roelf Meyer.

The review was commissioned by Lindiwe Sisulu the then Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, in July 2011. The review was motivated by the need to correct the errors and shortcomings of the previous review. According to defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu, the old report was no longer relevant to South Africa's current situation.[70]

See also edit

References edit

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Further reading edit

External links edit