The South African Army’s Project Hoefyster, aimed at replacing its current armoured vehicles with advanced infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) known as the Badger, has faced delays and challenges, but new completion dates are now on the horizon.
Denel, the South African defence company responsible for the project, is actively working to complete the development of the Badger IFV under Project Hoefyster. Recent updates provided by Armscor, the South African defence procurement agency, shed light on the progress and expected timelines for the five main variants by the end of 2025.
In a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) in mid-September, Armscor highlighted key developments. A Project Hoefyster Project Control Board (PCB) meeting held in April 2023 recommended the completion of Phase 1 (development) with acceptance of specified deviations from the original specifications. This meeting also recommended the acceptance of four pre-production models of the Badger IFV and the delivery of vehicles to the South African Army. Ultimately, Armscor aims for three battalions’ worth of Badger IFVs.
To accommodate these developments, the Phase 1 contract needs to be amended to reflect new completion dates and possible penalties. Denel has requested a Phase 1 contract variation order (CVO), which includes revised completion dates and accelerated payment milestones. , says defenceWeb.
Under the revised schedule, the product baseline for the Section variant is anticipated to be established by April 2024, followed by the Fire Support variant in July 2024, the Command variant in December 2024, the Missile variant in March 2025, and the Mortar variant in December 2025. Notably, the original schedule had aimed for product baseline establishment by late 2017.
South Africa’s plans to acquire 264 Badger armoured vehicles in various variants, including Command, Missile, Section, Fire Support, and Mortar, have faced uncertainty and delays. The project’s total value, as assessed by Armscor, exceeds R16 billion.
To address these challenges, Denel received significant bailout funds from the National Treasury earlier this year, enabling it to restart production and work towards fulfilling the project’s goals. The recapitalization funds played a crucial role in stabilizing Denel and transitioning it to a new business model.
Despite past setbacks, Denel is confident in its ability to get Badger production back on track for the South African Army. The IFVs are crucial for enhancing military operations. The Hoefyster programme, according to Denel, is a critical component of the broader moves to modernise the SANDF and ensure its operational readiness.
As Armscor processes the Phase 1 CVO, Denel continues to work on production costing (Phase 2), with a definite cost estimate expected by the end of December 2023. Armscor will also proceed with the Phase 2 contract variation order once approval for the partial acquisition of one battalion has been secured from the Armaments Acquisition Council.
While Project Hoefyster has faced its share of challenges and delays over the years, the South African Army remains committed to its goal of acquiring advanced Badger IFVs to bolster its capabilities. The new completion dates set for the project represent a step forward in achieving this objective.
Decades after Project Hoefyster’s initiation, the South African Army eagerly awaits the delivery of the Badger IFVs, which will play a pivotal role in enhancing its operational effectiveness and security capabilities.
In light of the ongoing developments and the pressing need for modernized armoured vehicles, the South African defence company Paramount is proposing its Mbombe 8 infantry combat vehicles as a viable and immediately available alternative to the Badger. The Mbombe 8 closely matches the Badger’s specifications and is considered a matured system, having been launched in mid-2016. As discussions and evaluations continue, the South African Army faces important decisions in its pursuit of advanced armoured vehicles for its operations.