The Department of Defence and Armscor have officially handed over Project Kamogelo to the South African Army, after Milkor successfully delivered 370 Y4 medium velocity six-shot grenade launchers under the programme.
The handover ceremony took place on 7 October at the Murray Hill Special Forces facility outside Pretoria and included an exhibition and live-fire demonstration as well as signing and exchange of certificates. Representatives from Armscor, Department of Defence Defence Materiel Division, South African Army, Rheinmetall Denel Munition and Milkor were present, including SA Army Chief, Lieutenant General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha, and Kamogelo Project Officer Lieutenant Colonel Gladwin Louw.
Phuti Jackson Mampa, Milkor CEO, said he is proud to be able to supply the SANDF with the new weapon, and added that the project has solidified a bond between Milkor and ammunition supplier Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
“This day marks…an important milestone in the history of the Department of Defence, in particular the South African Army, as we witness the handing and taking over ceremony of the 40 mm medium velocity grenade launcher,” said Rear Admiral AAA Morris, Chief Director Defence Acquisition Management, Materiel Division.
“The 40 mm MVGL forms part of the rejuvenation of the landward capability. The new Y4 is an urgent operational requirement for the infantry and shall increase its firepower capability over long ranges,” he said, with the new weapon having a maximum range of 800 metres as opposed to 375 metres of the earlier Y2. “This also provides a competitive advantage in Africa, especially in peace support operations.”
“The South African Infantry Formation, as the end user of the system, should be proud to receive this capability and specifically at a time when they are expected to play an important role as part of the South African Army to participate in both external as well as internal operations. We hope you will take care of this equipment and use it with pride as both the weapon and ammunition are proudly south African.”
Louw said that Project Kamogelo is a unique non-cardinal project, in that it is one of the first of its type as it follows the Expedited Armament Acquisition Process (EAAP) in light of the Army’s urgent operational requirement. In view of its success, the Department of Defence said it will be used as a template for future acquisitions going forward.
The need for a new grenade launcher saw the project being fomented in 2016 and the acquisition plan was approved in February 2018 by Armscor and subsequently saw testing and evaluation of Milkor’s flagship weapon. This involved firing less-lethal, low velocity and medium velocity ammunition where particular focus was placed on speed and accuracy.
Milkor recently attended the Final Operational Testing and Evaluation (FOT&E) of the Y4 grenade launchers at the SANDF Infantry School in Oudtshoorn in September this year to allow the SANDF to introduce infantry soldiers to operational use of the weapon and to test the safety of the weapon system within their doctrine, ensuring it complies with their standards.
During the week-long event, the SANDF went through various testing procedures to ensure safe operation as well as durability of the weapon system. The Y4 passed and exceeded all qualifications during the evaluation period, something Milkor said it is truly proud of. “Unsurprisingly, Milkor’s flagship weapon has proven to be extremely reliable and accurate, with no major issues reported after three full days of rigorous, live-fire testing,” the company reported.
The project was concluded within its financial ceiling and delivered timeously in spite of some teething problems and delays. One issue was that the Rheinmetall Denel Munition ammunition only met international requirements and had to be locally qualified. Delivery of the first batch of weapons took place in February 2019 and the final batch in December 2019. Train of trainers and conversion training from the Y2 to the Y4 took place in August 2018.
Official handover would have taken place sooner, but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The handover ceremony is a major milestone towards conclusion of the project, with the audit report due in November before the project is deregistered and closed in March 2021.
The SA Army has been using outdated Y2 grenade launcher for decades. Milkor’s SuperSix (designated the Y4 in SA Army service) is a significant leap forward over the Y2 as it is compatible with both 40×46 mm low velocity and longer-range 40×51 mm medium velocity rounds – medium velocity rounds have a range of up to 800 metres in area fire mode, doubling the range over the Y2. Stationary point targets can be hit at around 375 metres. The Y4 can also fire less lethal ammunition.
Under the project, Milkor delivered 370 grenade launchers, 15 sets of first line spares, 15 sets of specialised tools and 15 laser rangefinders (Newcon Optik). The weapons are equipped with Trijicon optical sights.
The SA Army acquired 19 440 rounds of medium velocity ammunition via Milkor and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), including 3 240 rounds of high explosive ammunition, 3 240 rounds of high explosive dual purpose ammunition, 3 240 rounds of practice ammunition, 3 240 rounds of practice tracer ammunition, 3 240 smoke rounds and 3 240 rounds of orange target marker ammunition. These different rounds were put to the test at Murray Hill on Wednesday, with dozens of rounds fired at targets on the range.
“We believe that this system will help us address issues that are close to our hearts and that includes the safeguarding of our borders and thus protecting our people and natural resources,” Morris said. “Today we are proud to say that the Defence Materiel Division is about to alleviate to a certain extent some of the challenges experienced by the South African Army through Project Kamogelo.”