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Fact file: Denel FV2 Bateleur Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS)

The FV2 Bateleur is the standard multiple launch rocket system (MLRS)of the South African Artillery. Development and production started after the end of the 1966-1989 Namibian “Border War” and the system has not yet been used in anger, unlike its smaller predecessor, the FV1 Visarend.












Type:

Multiple rocket launcher system (MLRS)

Number in service:

Two in service, 16

Associated project names:

 

Manufacturer:

Denel (rocket launcher), Truckmakers (chassis).

Dimensions

  • Length:

  • Width:

  • Height:

  • Wheel base:

  • Ground clearance:

 

8.53m

2.425m

3.125m

5.25m + 1.38m.

0.35m

Mass

  • Tare:

  • Payload:\

  • GVM:

 

9.5mt.

12mt.

21.5mt.

Seating:

5

Fuel:

400 litres.

Water for crew:

200 litres.

Protection levels

  • Ballistic:

  • Mine:

 

Resistant against 7.62mm fire, as for Kwê 100.

Mine protected cab, as for Kwê 100.

Performance:

Top speed:

Range on single refuelling:

Acceleration:

Turning circle:

Ground pressure:

Power/mass ratio: kW/t.

Can climb a __ vertical step:

Can cross a __ wide trench:

Can ford water __ deep:

Can climb a gradient of __ deg:

Can traverse a gradient of __ deg:

 

90km/h.

1000km.

 

 

 

 

 

0.5m.

 

1.2m @ 5km/h.

70.

18.

Engine:

V10 15.95 litre air-cooled 4-stroke direct injection diesel generating 268hp @ 2650rpm.

Transmission:

ZF 56-65 Syncromesh.

Armament:

40 barrel MLRS. Fires up to 40 127mm pre-fragmented high explosive warheads from 7.5km to 36km at sea level singly or using ripple fire, firing 1 rocket per second, reload less than 10mins. In/out action: 1 and 2 minutes.

Command system:

AS2000.

Comment:

An improvement on the earlier 24-barrel, Unimog-carried Visarend (Fish Eagle)system. The Bateleur is named for a type of raptor (Afrikaans: Berghaan). Rations and stores for 14 days can be carried. The chassis is a Kwê 100 6x6 truck.

 

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in its annual 2010 Military Balance publication credits South Africa with 51 MLRS – 26 of the 24-tube first-generation Visarend and 25 of the later Bateleur. The IISS lists the Visarend as being in storage. Another source puts most of the Bateleur in storage as well.

Lt Col Clive Wilsworth in his “First in, Last Out” (30 Degrees South, Johannesburg, 2010), an account of South African artillery operations between 1975 and 1989, notes the MLRS programme, Project Furrow, started in 1974. He added it is a common misperception that the quest for rocket artillery only started after Operation Savannah, the South African intervention in Angola from November 1975, when the Army encountered the Soviet BM21 122mm MLRS. “The massive firepower of the [MLRS] was already appreciated before the first contact in Angola.”

Wilsworth adds the system was developed to deliver “artillery strikes on soft targets – ideal against logistic points or convoys, airfields, concentrations of troops in open trenches or even in the open.” Development started at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and production as well as systems integration was in the hands of Kentron, today's Denel Dynamics and RDM Western Cape. He further recounts that 127mm (5-inch) was selected as the calibre for the system as it was the same as the Kentron V3 air-to-air missile “which, with relatively minor modifications, could be used successfully.”

The warhead contained 6400 steel balls cast in a resin sleeve to save weight and filled with a RDX/TNT explosive mix. Two fuses were available: direct action or proximity. “During operations the proximity fuse was the most effective, and very few DA fuses were ever used.”

 

The system entered service in 1979 with the first instructors' course held at Kentron South (later Denel Somchem and now part of RDM) in May 1979. The first use of the Visarend launcher and Valkiri unguided rocket in combat was in August 1981 during Operation Protea. Wilsworth regrettably does not discuss the development of the Bateleur. It does however use the same 127mm rocket but with a 40-tube launcher fitted to a mine-protected Kwêvoël 100 10-ton 6x6 truck.

The weapon can fire up to 40 127mm pre-fragmented high explosive warheads to ranges of 7.5km to 36km at sea level singly or using ripple fire, firing up to 1 rocket per second. Reload can take less than 10 minutes and in/out-of-action time is one and two minutes respectively. The system is supported by a Kwêvoël 100 ammunition truck carrying 96 rockets and crew who help with the reloading.

The systems are currently allocated to the SA Army Artillery School, Artillery Mobilisation Regiment and 4 Artillery Regiment, all of Potchefstroom, as well as the Regiment Potchefstroomse Universiteit and the Transvaalse Staatsartillerie of Pretoria.

 

It is understood the system is now being modified to fire a Spanish-produced 122mm rocket as the local rocket is now too expensive to economically produce as the required production volumes are too small to warrant opening the production line at Somchem. 

 

 



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