The Raptor II remains an evergreen for Denel Dynamics, despite its age and the view in some quarters that it is [may be] a “sunset” product, says company CE Jan Wessels.
The boosted glide bomb is often “defined as a sunset product, but it is not,” adds Wessels. “It is like old wine. Each time we invest in a few new features, the product sells for at least another five years. The fact that it is integrated and qualified on Sukhoi Su 24 and Dassault Mirage F1 and III aircraft and that these are in service in many developing countries.
“Furthermore Raptor is ‘plug and play’ on these systems and this gives us a key competitive advantage because none of the competing products from Europe or America are like that. In conjunction with our South African partners, including Aerosud and others, we are able to integrate and qualify Raptor on other aircraft types very competitively. Then there is resistance to buying former East-block products in some quarters for various reasons, political or otherwise. So I think there is a good market window for this product.”
The 1200kg weapon with a 130km range weapon was developed in the early 1980s and was first used operationally in the Angolan conflict in 1988 to down a river bridge in an area with heavy air defences. The Raptor I was in service with the SAAF until 1990 when priority shifted away from this class of precision strike weapon.
“For many years now we have not said much about Raptor, about continuously upgrading the system. It still looks like the old Raptor, but it is like a Boeing 737, the outside is the same but the inside is completely modernised. It has new digital electronics, new modernised navigation functions, more accurate guidance algorithms. So, we believe it is still a very competitive weapon.
“It is hyper accurate (up to 3m CEP) and in a assymetric environment it is even more useful as you can pinpoint a bridge or a bunker without killing or injuring civilians, it is clearly much more applicable to the modern battlefield than traditional bombing. The weapon is still very potent and an important element in our portfolio of missile offerings,” Wessels continues.