Alkantpan hosts successful Denel capability demo

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Proof Denel can still make the grade came at Armscor’s Alkantpan test range last month with pride of place going to a VLAP (velocity enhanced artillery projectile) shot which reached a remarkable 61.29 km distance.

The artillery shoot was part of a three-day capability demonstration at the remote Northern Cape site in mid-August to showcase the State-owned Denel is “back in business”.

The 60 km+ shot was made from a Denel Land Systems T5-52 155 mm, 52-calibre self-propelled howitzer on the final day of the demo, with the first and second days covering shoot and scoot, maximum rate of fire and stability and accuracy demonstrations.

Three VLAP rounds were fired on day three, an exercise made “interesting” by prevailing winds, at times reaching 130 km/h speeds in the upper meteorological line. The first shot achieved 60.4 km and the second 60.9km. The ballistic test for the final shot of the day showed a 61.29 kilometre range. This proved once and for all, Denel said, the superiority of the system combination between its T5-52 and the Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) ammunition suite from the Assegai family.

Denel collaborated with RDM, which supplied its suite of artillery ammunition. An RDM test in November 2019 at Alkantpan using Assegai 155 mm VLAP ammunition reached a record 76 km with a 52-calibre barrel, and 53 km with a 39-calibre barrel. These ranges were achieved with Denel G5 and G6 howitzers.

Denel said the August test-firing confirmed it is “still at the forefront of global technological advancement in the field of artillery and that it has recapacitated itself to be able to meet customer expectations in pursuit of world-class product offerings.” It said the 155 mm T5-52 artillery system is a flagship product, designed to be mobile, with increased firepower and a low operating cost.

Other Denel products shown at Alkantpan were its Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Altimate 105 mm self-propelled howitzer, mounted on Denel Vehicle Systems RG41 8×8 armoured platform; 105mm light experimental ordnance (LEO/WEBBY); as well as the Denel Mechatronics Missile Stabilised Turret (MST) mounted on an RG32M mine hardened armoured patrol vehicle.

The Seeker 400 showed its capability by way of demonstration flights on the first two days, first completing a surveillance mission over the target and confirming grids once firing was underway. The UAV also provided the correction function for fall of shot through a live feed from the target area.

The Seeker 400 operates at a direct line-of-sight (LOS) range of up to 250 km with more than 10 hours time on target (TOT), a speed of 150 km/h and up to 16 hours endurance with a multiple sensor payload capability up to 100 kg.

Denel said one of the main objectives of the 15-17 August demonstration was to re-establish and grow the relationship with end users, the local defence industry and international partners, with the intention of getting closer to niche markets.

Invitations sent to ten countries were accepted by eight, whose representatives at the test range were joined by Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Obed Bapela. Local participants included representatives from the Department of Defence (DoD), the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC), Armscor, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the SA Army, Defence Intelligence as well as local defence industry companies.

Bapela said the demonstration showed that Denel is back to business and has the full support from the Government, its shareholder the Department of Public Enterprises, the Board and Management and will continue to work towards making itself a sustainable and profitable company.

In summary Denel noted the demonstration “received positive reviews from those present”.

“The event is a statement from Denel to the global market confirming its place as a global supplier of world-class aerospace, military and defence equipment. This capability demo confirmed to clients Denel is redefining its future,” Denel concluded.