State defence material agency Armscor has reported significant progress made on the upgrade of the SA Army’s G5 and G6 155 mm howitzers under Projects Muhali and Topstar, and emphasised that without these upgrades, the SA Army will not have any functional artillery.
Project Muhali addresses obsolescence of the Army’s G6 self-propelled howitzers and covers the replacement of obsolete items while Project Topstar covers a gun laying and navigation system upgrades for the South African Army’s G5 and G6 artillery systems and 127 mm multiple rocket launchers (MRLs).
In a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) late last year, Armscor noted that Muhali was contracted in May 2019 and was originally due to be completed in June 2021 at a cost of R178 million (R144 million plus VAT, escalation and ROE). Due to delays caused by challenges at Denel (tasked with the upgrade), the new delivery date is 15 March 2024.
Armscor revealed that to date, R81 million has been spent on Muhali, including R27 million to Denel Land Systems subcontractor Leonardo. Fifteen vehicles are being upgraded.
Although the project is moving forward, Armscor said the financial difficulties of Denel remain a risk as they have a direct impact on the project’s progress, but the situation has slightly improved since the placement of orders. Project funds were ring fenced by Denel Land Systems to keep the project funds within the project, and orders were amended to pay suppliers directly.
“There is a significant progress on the project,” Armscor concluded, with three units 100% complete and the remaining 12 90% complete.
Denel was in June 2019 contracted to carry out the Project Topstar upgrade, worth R239 million, with contract completion scheduled for the end of March 2021. However, the new delivery date is 15 March 2024. Project funds have been ring fenced by Denel Land Systems to keep the project on track, and suppliers are being paid directly.
Armscor stated that R54 million has been spent to date, and four MRLs have been completed, with the balance to be completed by October 2023. Three G5s were completed for training in September and the remaining guns are on track as required for crew training in 2024.
“There is significant progress on the project,” Armscor concluded, stating that locally procured hardware is 100% complete, and Denel is just awaiting inertial navigation units (INUs) from Scotland. Production of Leonardo FIN 3120 INUs is behind schedule.