Armscor’s all-purpose Alkantpan ballistic test range generated 14% more income in the last financial year due mainly to “a significant increase in the number of tests executed”.
The Northern Cape range with its associated facilities saw foreign income contributing well over half – 64% – of its total sales of R86,2 million.
One example is joint testing exercises between Germany (Diehl Defence BGT) and Italy (Oto Melara) on 127mm and 155mm ammunition. Another sees Alkantpan now well into a further two year contract with Singapore Technology Kinetics Pte Ltd (STK). This company is Alkantpan’s major foreign client and the current contract expires in March next year.
Ballistics tests conducted for STK included blast trials where three different types of homemade bombs were simulated to conduct measurements and analyse the effect on various targets. A similar test is planned where a gas-based, instead of explosive-based, bomb will be used. This, Armscor maintains, is a good indication that test and corresponding measurement results were both successful and effective.
In a welcome sign of activity, tests conducted for South African industry, including the defence sector are increasing. Armscor sees this trend continuing for the medium term.
One of the tracking radar units in service at Alkantpan is old and has reached the point where no further upgrades can be done. It can still be used for shorter range tests but the demand for longer range tracking has increased to the point that a new radar is needed to enable both slaving and tracking.
“Technology upgrades and acquisitions strengthen the range’s strategic capabilities to support the Department of Defence, in line with Armscor’s mandate. Alkantpan has also maintained and increased its ballistic evaluation and testing capabilities.”
A new weapons store has been completed and is used by foreign clients to store weapons and other equipment. Germany, Armscor notes, has requested storage facilities until 2020.
Highlights of services offered at the Gerotek test facility, west of Pretoria include testing military vehicles and components; testing commercial vehicles; development testing of new vehicles; hosting conferences and vehicle launches and presenting specialised driver training.