Artillery, rocket business booming for RDM

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Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM)’s factories are at 100% capacity and are being kept busy by a new rocket motor contract and Assegai and 105 mm artillery round orders, amongst others, according to CEO Norbert Schulze.

Last year RDM qualified its new 155 mm Assegai range and has received several orders from NATO countries and the Middle East for this series of artillery rounds. Several customers placed orders for more than 80 000 rounds already. Schulze said there is a lot of interest in the range in the Far and Middle East. The Assegai range comes with a variety of payloads, such as high explosive (HE), insensitive HE, pre-fragmented insensitive HE, illumination, infrared illumination, smoke, practice base bleed and V-LAP (velocity-enhanced long-range artillery projectile).

A significant contract for the company is an order for 35 000 rounds of 105 mm PFF (pre-formed fragmentation) artillery shells from the United States, with production running until the beginning of next year. On the mortar front, Schulze said that RDM last year began delivering 75 000 rounds of 120 mm ammunition for a Middle Eastern client, and expects a follow-on order.

RDM has supplied all rocket motor propellants for Denel Dynamics products such as the A-Darter and Ingwe, and recently became the sole supplier of propellants for Forges de Zeebrugge FZ 70 rockets. RDM’s propellant gives better range (and less smoke) than that supplied by a European company, resulting in RDM displacing that company as the sole supplier. Since November 2014 RDM has been delivering 2 000 units a month to Forges de Zeebrugge. Any future rockets developed by the Belgian company will likely have RDM propellants, according to Schulze.

RDM is also involved in Tawazun Dynamics’ Al Tariq bomb kit, providing the bomb bodies with insensitive explosive filling for the Mk 81 (113 kg/250 lb) and Mk 82 (227 kg/500 lb) bombs the system uses. An initial order for 1 600 units has been placed. Al Tariq is in production for the United Arab Emirates, which is using it aboard its Mirage 2000 fighters. Further development is underway.

On the smaller end of the scale, RDM’s 40×51 mm medium velocity grenade ammunition is being sold to international customers in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Middle East and has been evaluated by the United States military. It has also been selected by the South African National Defence Force.

In response to a South African Police Service requirement, RDM in the last couple of years has developed a range of less lethal riot control grenade rounds. These have various payloads such as rubber and marker rounds and multiple flash-bangs and tear gas pellets from single grenades.

Not to rest on its laurels, RDM is spending R50 million a year on research and development, with a couple of new products under development in the field of rocket motors and artillery.