It’s back to the dry dock for SA’s next big, multibillion-rand arms deal as the department of defence and SA navy reconsider behind closed doors how to include as much SA-manufactured content as possible in an already stretched budget. The necessity for additional ships — three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) — was made painfully obvious when the navy had to use its antiquated Warrior-class “strike-craft” IPVs in an OPV role for the Southern African Development Community’s antipiracy Operation Copper in the Mozambique Channel. The initiation of Project Biro, the OPV and IPV project, was already delayed by a decade because of the fallout from the controversy-dogged R30bn arms deal in 1999. The storm of allegations of corruption around that deal turned public opinion against further naval acquisitions. This is despite the fact that, as long-range warcraft, the frigates are unsuited for regular maritime safety and counterpoaching patrols of coasta...

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