South African arms sales rocket up 54% in past year

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee has reported R7.1b in arms sales in 2023, with R1.6b in armoured vehicles to Africa, and R3.8b in munitions, mostly to Europe





Jul 6, 2024

South African arms sales rocket up 54% in past year

The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has reported a significant increase in South African defence exports, reaching R7.1 billion in 2023, up from R4.6 billion the previous year.

A notable R1.6 billion worth of armoured combat vehicles were exported to over a dozen countries. These included Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Togo, the United Arab Emirates, and Zambia.

Light weapons exports totalled R153 million, with major orders from Bangladesh, Brazil, Indonesia, and the UAE. Bombs and rockets worth R175 million were shipped to Bangladesh, Germany, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

Ammunition, including artillery rounds, remained the largest category, with exports surpassing R3.8 billion. The primary exporters were Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM). Germany and Hungary were the biggest buyers, with significant orders also from Bangladesh, Estonia, Gabon, the Philippines, Spain, and Switzerland.

Electronic systems, including countermeasures, observation equipment, and electronic warfare systems, contributed nearly R890 million to the total exports. Key markets included Bangladesh, India, Australia, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and China.

Additional notable exports included bombs and rockets to the UAE and UAVs, believed to be Al Tariq and Sejeel guided bombs.

The NCACC report also highlighted dual-use items worth R421 million exported to nearly 40 countries. Significant exports included armour to the DRC, communications equipment to Australia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and the US, and UAV and aerospace systems to Malaysia and Zimbabwe.

Overall, the NCACC's 2023 report reflects a substantial rise in South African defence exports, largely driven by the global increase in military expenditure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that global military spending reached a record $2.24 trillion last year.

more articles by this author