Businessday.com reports that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has awarded an R30.5 million ($4,130,983) contract to state-owned Denel Land Systems to maintain the force’s existing stock of R4 and R5 service rifles. Although the weapons have been in production since 1972, and Denel manufactures cutting-edge if internationally unloved weapons systems (e.g. the Umkhonto surface-to-air missile and the Mokopa air-to-ground missile), SANDF corporate communication director Brigadier General M.M. Visser said if ain’t broke don’t fix it. Or “[the gun has been] a reliable companion to many soldiers over the years.” Retro? And how. “Asked why the SANDF was not interested in finding modern rifles, Visser said rifle technology was not ‘improving rapidly’ and therefore many Defence Forces around the world were retaining their weapon systems for a very long time. He said the SANDF also trusted that the local industry would be capable of manufacturing new rifle technology should they were required to do so.” While sticking with familiar, relatively uncomplicated and proven weaponry is an excellent military strategy, the RSA’s attitude towards change is yet more proof that nationalization and innovation don’t mix.

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