DENEL AVIATION (Division of Denel (Pty) Ltd)
Predecessor Atlas Aircraft Corporation founded 1964 by Bonuskor as private company; delivered first Impala Mk 1 (Aermacchi MB-326) jet trainers to SAAF 1966; manufacturing, design and development facilities for airframes, engines, missiles and avionics; developed Cheetah from Mirage III, Rooivalk from Puma, Oryx (Super Puma) from Puma, V3B and V3C dogfight missiles, and many weapons installations. Incorporated into Armscor Group 1969; restructuring of Armscor on 1 April 1992 created Denel as self-sufficient commercial industrial group, in which Atlas Aviation became military aircraft manufacturing branch of Simera in Denel Aerospace Group.
Denel Group's Simera/Atlas aerospace division renamed Denel Aviation in April 1996 and is now responsible for all Group's military and commercial aviation business. Denel Aviation consists of four business units: Tactical Aircraft Support (for military aircraft); Transport Aircraft Support; Aircraft Manufacturing; and Airmotive (aero-engine and transmission manufacturing).
MoU in late 1998 provided for co-productionof, and export licence for, Agusta A119 Koala helicopter; July 2000 agreement with Agusta, covering airframe manufacture and systems installation for 25 of 30 A109s ordered by South African Air Force, was extended in 2001 to include airframes of 20 A109Ms for Sweden. This followed in December 2001 by agreement with AgustaWestland to produce and market A109LUH, A109 Power and A119 Koala for customers in specified countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, South America, Africa and elsewhere. Final assembly of first (of 25) A109LUH for South African Air Force began in early 2003 (I-PLUH/4001). Beginning May 2001, Denel manufacturing, under a US$3.6 million contract, main landing gear portion of lower centre-fuselage for Swedish Air Force Lot 3 Gripen combat aircraft, plus additional sections for the 28 Gripens ordered by South African Air Force. Initial SwAF order is for 40 units, with options for a further 60.
The South African government search for a strategic equity for a partial privatisation of Denel Aviation ended on 12 October 2000 with the announcement that BAE Systems had been selected. South African government approval for BAE Systems to acquire a 30 per cent holding in Denel Aviation for R375 million (US$36.8 million) was announced in May 2002, but not taken up. Alternative equity partner being sought in 2003.