BAE's Land Systems armaments business - which includes Midland-based Alvis - has topped a series of contract wins with a significant new order from South Africa.

The follow-on contract, worth around £15 million, has been awarded by Armscor, the acquisition agency for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Land Systems will be upgrading an additional batch of Olifant MK1B Main Battle Tanks ( MBTs) to Mk2 standard.

This is the single largest order awarded by Armscor to Land Systems in over 12 years and follows an initial £11 million order received in September 2003 for the first batch.

"This upgrade contract will ensure that the MBTs continue to provide a high level of operational performance required by the SA Army for mobility, firepower, allweather day/night capability and protection," said Thami Mbele, director, South African programmes at Land Systems OMC. The new programme will assist in the retention of essential skills and key jobs at OMC's Benoni facility in South Africa.

Under the terms of the contract the main battle tanks will receive an upgraded engine, increasing power to 1040 horsepower.

New gun control equipment and target detection and engagement system with allweather day/night fighting capability, allowing the tank to engage a moving target whilst it is on the move, will also be fitted to the Olifant.

A number of other operational modifications required by the SA Army are also included in the programme.

Delivery of the upgraded MBTs is scheduled for 2006/2007.