For South Africa’s Denel Land Systems, the Defense Business Is Booming – Factories Pulling Double Shifts

The South African state-owned defense conglomerate Denel Land Systems has recently experienced a large rise in sales which have maxed out its production facilities, African defense website DefenceWeb reports. According to DefenceWeb’s article, most of the increase in recent sales have been from small lot sales to the Middle East.

Denel’s recent uptick in sales is significant, as the South African state megacorporation had been having problems with solvency during first half of the 2010s. In March 2010, Denel posted a loss of more than 20 million USD (284 million South African Rand), mostly due to interest on its debt.

Denel Land Systems is the military ground products division of the wider Denel SOC Ltd., which was formerly a subsidiary of the South African defense company Armscor (not to be confused with the US firearms importer of the same name). In the early 1990s, towards the end of Apartheid-era South Africa, Armscor was absorbed into the South African government as the procurement arm of the then-South African Defence Force, and Denel spun off from the manufacturing divisions of the former Armscor. Today, the broader Denel makes everything from missiles to aircraft to firearms, with the Land Systems division making systems like armored fighting vehicles, artillery, and small arms. Recently, Denel Land Systems introduced the lightweight multicaliber DMG-5 machine gun, replacing its existing SS-77 machine gun.

Thanks to Tom for the tip!





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Patriot Gunner

    Apparently they are the only ones not affected by the “Trump Slump”.

  • John

    No shortage of customers. Probably Saudi Arabia and Qatar right now.

  • john huscio

    They’d boom even more if they imported the R4 to the states.

    Step one: form Denel usa

    Step 2: build and import rifles in “sporting configuration”

    Step 3: convert rifles back to original unneutered state once stateside

    Step 4: sell and profit heartily. Stay in the black forever.

    Political deterioration in this country points the way for Possible future demand for light armored sport vehicles which would be a growth market for a company with lots of expirence in the field like Denel.

    • Holdfast_II

      R5.

      • Anonymoose

        That would be an SBR. They already used to make semi-auto versions of the R4 series for domestic police use, but they stopped making them due to politics.

      • iksnilol

        I’d prefer an R6 to go with my A6.

        • 61mech

          R6 was a bit of a unicorn. Only issued to SF as far as I know.

    • Lou

      Denel is extremely hard to deal with and they lack the business development savvy to make a real hit in the defense world outside of old customers. If they are doing well now, it certainly has little to do with their small arms division which could have made some impacts 15 years ago with their CR-21 bullpup rifle at least in the commercial markets but did nothing. DS Arms tried to do something with them 12 years ago but they were impossible to work with. I also experienced the same before that. Sure, they make quality small arms but the chances of them ever getting their $hit together are slim to none just like Singapore Technologies, another company with great small arms that allows stupid politics and lack of vision get in the way of making a difference in small arms.

      • Jason Culligan

        Lack of vision and initiative. Sounds like any other government run organisation.

  • PK

    I’ll be interested to see how the DMG-5 performs in comparison to the SS-77. The SS-77 is one of the nicest MGs I’ve ever fired.

  • 61mech

    If you’re looking for a PKM competitor in 7.62 NATO, this is it. I was in the SADF when we started switching over from the MAG to the SS-77.(we use it at the squad/section level)

    It was a hell of a lot lighter and easier to handle than the MAG. They had some issues when they first came out, but I heard they sorted it out by dropping the rate of fire.

  • 22winmag

    Firearms not Defense Industry Review

  • Raptor Fred

    Wonder if they still sell this thing?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsBEQ-Pulvc

  • Martingard

    Just WHO in the Middle East are they selling to?

    • Raptor Fred

      Prawns

  • Hossi Blumengaarten

    anyone from SA will tell you why this company will never make it big, it is in one of the most corrupt nations in the world. This company makes amazing weapons even with all the bs of South Africa so one can imagine how big/successful they would have been if they were from Europe/America/China

  • The_Champ

    I’ve heard the SS-77 is a pretty sold GPMG. Anyone here have any experience with one?

  • ReadyOrNot

    South Africa, the definition of a “grey” state.