South Africa Signs Arms Deals

South Africa announced on September 15 that it had finalized arms deals totaling $3.5 billion for the purchase of three submarines, four navy patrol corvettes, 30 light utility helicopters, nine fighter aircraft and 12 trainer aircraft. Pretoria will also have the option, which is only valid until 2004, to acquire an additional 19 fighters and 12 trainers, which would push the total cost of the arms package up to approximately $5 billion. The trainer aircraft, helicopters and naval equipment, according to the South African Defense Department, will replace weapons that have been in service for more than 30 years.

Due to pressure from within the government, reportedly led by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, the arms buys were scaled back from what had been previously announced last November. (See ACT, November/December 1998.) As part of the deals, the supplying nations—Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom—reportedly pledged to provide an estimated $17 billion in offset arrangements. The offsets include coproduction and countertrade agreements, as well as direct investment in South African companies.