Frigate weapons alignment

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Part of SA Navy (SAN) frigate maintenance is weapons alignment with a scheduled session recently successfully completed by the weapons section of the Armscor dockyard on SAS Spioenkop (F147).

Spioenkop is the third Valour Class frigate which, along with the Type 209 Heroine Class submarines, makes up the blue water capability of the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). All seven hulls – four frigates and three submarines – were acquired as part of the 1998 Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP) four years after South Africa’s first democratic election.

The Armscor newsletter has it “the purpose of weapons alignment is to ensure ammunitions are delivered to the target with the greatest degree of accuracy. This is achieved by ensuring weapons accurately point in the exact direction requested by the user”.

“Weapons,” the newsletter continues, “lose accuracy and must be verified
continually to correct misalignments during their normal life cycle. Failure to do so might compromise the accuracy of weapons. A known reference point is needed to correct misalignment of weapons.

“This exercise was conducted using state-of-the-art equipment calibrated (turning of sensors) and prepared in-house to provide a known reference point weapons were measured against. Theodolite equipment was used to verify and transfer the ship’s centre line and benchmarks,” it reads pointing out “verification trials were conducted at sea”.

In terms of armament Spioenkop and her sister ships can mount an Otobreda 76mm gun; a twin barrell35 mm dual purpose gun; two Oerlikon Mk1 20mm cannons ; eight MBDA MM40 Exocet block 2 surface to surface missiles in two four cell launchers and 16 Umkhonto surface to air missiles in a pair of eight cell vertical launchers.

The Simon’s Town dockyard is seen by Armscor as a key strategic facility and now has new weapons alignment equipment to “bolster” future similar work on other SAN platforms.