Military Wiki
Armaments Corporation of South Africa
Industry Arms procurement agency
Founded 1968
Headquarters South Africa
Area served
  • South Africa

Armscor (or ARMSCOR), the Armaments Corporation of South Africa (in Afrikaans: Krygstuig Korporasie van Suid-Afrika, or Krygkor) is a South African government-supported weapon-producing conglomerate that was officially established in 1968,[1] primarily as a response to the international sanctions by the United Nations against South Africa that began in 1963 and were formalised in 1967.[2]


Armscor oversaw a vast military, industrial and technological empire that consumed tens of billions of dollars.[1] During the 1960s and 1970s, Armscor produced a great deal of South Africa's armament as the state faced a tightening UN arms embargo. It was during this time that Armscor contracted with Gerald Bull's Space Research Corporation for advanced 155 mm howitzer designs.

Atlas Aircraft Corporation

Once established, Armscor absorbed the Atlas Aircraft Corporation.[3] The Atlas Aircraft Corporation of South Africa (also known as Atlas Aviation) was established in 1965[4] to manufacture sophisticated military aircraft and avionics equipment for the South African Air Force, as well as for export. It was also established primarily to circumvent an international arms embargo implemented in 1963.[5]

Denel and Armscor

With the establishment of Denel, the new South African government dominated military-industrial and technological conglomerate, in 1992,[6] many parts of Armscor's missions and functions were changed and redirected. With the establishment of Denel the manufacturing subsidiaries of Armscor were split from Armscor in order for Armscor to be solely the procurement arm of the South African Defence Force (SADF), now known as the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the manufacturing divisions were grouped together under Denel (Pty) Ltd as divisions.

Growth of South Africa's armaments industry in the twentieth century

The development of a domestic arms industry was one of the most significant aspects of the militarisation of the apartheid economy. South Africa's arms industry was established with British aid just prior to the Second World War, when training aircraft were assembled locally and the Pretoria branch of the Royal Mint manufactured small arms ammunition (Cawthra, 1986:89). During the war, the arms industry manufactured a substantial amount of basic weaponry for the Union Defence Force and the Allied forces, including armoured cars, bombs and ammunition. After the war, most of the wartime arms factories converted to their pre-war civilian activities.[7]

During the 1950s and early 1960s, South Africa relied heavily on arms imports (mainly from Britain). However, South Africa’s withdrawal from the Commonwealth in 1961, and the imposition of a voluntary United Nations arms embargo in 1963, provided the impetus for a shift towards the establishment of a domestic arms industry. The Armaments Production Board was established in 1964 to control the manufacture, procurement and supply of all armaments for the South African Defence Force (Simpson, 1989:222). The board also took over the Department of Defence's workshops and the ammunition section of the South African Mint, and was authorised to co-ordinate arms production in the private sector. By the mid-1960s, nearly a thousand private sector firms were involved in various aspects of domestic arms production.[7]

In 1967, the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on all states to stop supplying arms to South Africa. In 1968, the Armaments Production Board's name was changed to the Armaments Board. It was tasked with the procurement of armaments for the SADF and ensuring the optimal utilisation of the private sector for arms production (Simpson, 1989:222). In the same year, the government established the Armaments Development and Production Corporation (Armscor). The Defence Ordnance Workshop and the Ammunition Section of the South African Mint became its first full subsidiaries. Over the next few years, Armscor took over various private sector companies, such as Atlas Aircraft Corporation, and established a number of new production and R&D facilities (Cawthra, 1986:98).[7]

In 1973, the government established the Defence Advisory Council (DAC) to co-ordinate the private sector's involvement in domestic arms production (Philip, 1989:205).[7]

Outside of South Africa

Its United States presence is based in Maryland, although known by the slightly altered name of Armscorp.[citation needed] The "p" at the end of the name was added, within the USA at least, when it was determined that Armscor of the Philippines predated them, both in the USA and worldwide.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "South Africa's arms industry". Peter Batchelor (International Development Research Center). 26 November 2006. 
  2. "Arms Embargo against Apartheid South Africa". Richard Knight. 26 November 2006. 
  3. "South Africa's arms industry". Peter Batchelor (International Development Research Centre). 26 November 2006. 
  4. "South African Air Force Equipment". 26 November 2006. 
  5. "Arms Embargo against Apartheid South Africa". Richard Knight. 26 November 2006. 
  6. "Denel – Our Profile". 3 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-17. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "South Africa's arms industry: Prospects for Conversion". Peter Batchelor (International Development Research Centre). 26 November 2006. 

External links

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