South Africa’s Denel Dynamics is seeking partnering opportunities in Turkey on future collaboration projects. CE Jan Wessels is in Istanbul for this year’s International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF). The event started this morning and ends Friday.
“Turkey has an advanced defence industry with ambitious national industrial development goals – similar to South Africa. It makes sense for us to strengthen relationships between the two nations and find win-win cooperation opportunities,” says Wessels.
“South Africa has a comparably small but highly agile missile and UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] design, production and maintenance capability, anchored around a very strong engineering ‘hub’ in Denel Dynamics,” says Wessels. Looking forward, the innovative technologies in the A-Darter and Umkhonto missiles provide the South African business with the confidence that they can add value to Turkish air defence missile programmes through partnerships. The billion-Rand A-Darter short-range infra-red guided air-to-air missile joint collaboration project between the governments of Brazil and South Africa is a high profile example of what can be achieved between the industries of two politically aligned, advanced developing nations. “South Africa and Turkey can do the same,” says Wessels.
“South Africa’s engineering core has been developed and honed for over 30 years through Denel Dynamics, which has resulted in one of the best globally competitive teams in our field. Two specific highlights for 2010 were the highly successful introduction into service of the South African Umkhonto vertical launched surface-to-air missile system by the Finnish Navy, and the equally successful completion of integration and certification of the A-Darter 5th generation air-air missile from the Gripen fighters of the South African Air Force.
Wessels adds that the upgrade of the Umkhonto to a Block 2 version featuring much enhanced “clutter” performance, has again highlighted the system’s performance in marginal conditions. Umkhonto can now comfortably be applied to Ground Based Air Defence Systems (GBADS), naval launch platforms and even against surface targets (surface-air-surface capability), he says.
“Now that the missile’s range, all weather options and rejection of ECM [electronic countermeasures] have been extended, Umkhonto is still the best choice for any navy and we are proud to have the Block 2 for land application as well,” says Machiel Oberholzer, Executive Manager Air Defence at Denel Dynamics. The upgrade also enables easy integration with different radar and platform solutions in network centric applications.
The first A-Darter 5th generation missile, designed to meet the challenges of future air combat, was successfully launched from a South African Air Force Saab Gripen fighter jet on June 17 last year. Since then, all the required firings have taken place and clearance for the full carriage and firing envelopes of Gripen has been achieved, Wessels says. After an extensive ground test series of campaigns, these clearance launches from the air are highly significant in A-Darter’s developmental cycle as an air-air missile for the joint missile development programme between South Africa and Brazil. The Saab Project Manager for the integration test campaigns of A-Darter, Magnus Reineholm, was recently quoted as saying: “The A-Darter and the Gripen aircraft have worked beyond our expectations and we are extremely pleased with the test firing results.”
The missile development programme is due for completion next year. Only a hand-full of countries in the world are capable of developing missiles in this class, Wessels avers. The relationship with the Brazilian Air Force and Brazilian industry on the Development Programme has strengthened the ties between the two countries and may lead to more cooperation opportunities. The initial fighter aircraft for integration are the Hawk and Gripen for the South African Air Force, and the F-5BR for the Brazilian Air Force. Significant export opportunities exist for this product into further markets.