South African Navy Modernizes
In mid-November the South Africans announced a long awaited program to modernize their armed forces with four German MEKO frigates, three German-built submarines, four helicopters, and 28 Swedish-built Gripen fighters. A proposal to buy 105 tanks was rejected. The government is interested in being able to project power, which is why it chose large frigates with substantial endurance, seakeeping capability, and helicopter facilities. In the South African view, moreover, the submarines also are part of a power-projection capability, in that they are likely to deter others from intervening in the South Atlantic. To some extent the new government's interest in submarines is a vestige of its old connections with the Soviets; the African National Congress was closely associated with the old South African Communist Party. The Soviets taught that submarines were a valuable asset.