Alkantpan becoming a niche site for UAV testing and evaluation


Armscor’s Alkantpan test range is internationally renowned among artillerymen and has added another arrow to its quiver – that of a test site for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The state-owned defence and security acquisition agency notes in its latest annual report that “successful tests, including UAV tests, were conducted for various South African clients”. It also states UAV tests were conducted at Alkantpan by DSO (Singapore), the national defence research agency of that country.

The report also notes there has been “an expression of interest to have Alkantpan’s aerodrome tarred.

The range’s location in a remote area of the Northern Cape makes it eminently suitable for testing and evaluation of artillery pieces and ammunition and this was again the case in the 2017/18 financial year. Five firing sites, all with personnel and equipment protection, can be simultaneously used. These feature tracking radars and can measure stress and strain; muzzle velocity; vibrations and accelerations; chamber pressure; fuse frequencies; blast over-pressure and burst heights.

Alkantpan was approached by an Australian test range to assist in developing a standard procedure for tracking mortars with a Weibel tracking radar. A procedure was drawn up to ensure both ranges use the same method. This will help RDM (Rheinmetall Denel Munition) in qualifying ammunition for export to Australia.

The 155 mm PzH 2000 weapon system was successfully mounted on a stand for ammunition testing, removing the need to use a vehicle to carry the weapon system. This system is used mainly by RWM in Germany and RDM in South Africa.

Another milestone reported is German company Diehl requesting support from Alkantpan with the 76 mm Springkaan weapon system to be manufactured and purchased from Armscor. This project was started by Alkantpan and transferred to Armscor with continual inputs from Alkantpan.