Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu has partially lifted the veil on several South African National Defence Force projects in her second annual budget vote yesterday, praising among others, the work Denel Dynamics has done on the 5th generation A-Darter short-range infrared air-to-air missile and confirming it would be test fired off a Saab Gripen fighter “within the next two months”.
“You will have read about a very important project of the Department of Defence, entailing the local development of a fifth generation air-to-air missile intended for use on the newly acquired Gripen aircraft of the SA Air Force, she said. “This programme is co-funded by the South African Department of Defence and the Brazilian Air Force and represents the first cooperative defence program under the trilateral IBSA (India, Brazil, SA) agreement.
“Development of this missile is progressing exceptionally well and after almost four years since inception of the programme, originally planned time-scales are still being adhered to,” she said, confirming comments by Denel Dynamics CE Jan Wessels that the R1 billion programme was on time and on budget. “During the past year, the development has progressed to a point where flyable missiles have been completed and a first series of flight and guidance tests have been completed with great success. The first test firing of this missile from a Gripen aircraft is expected within the next two months.
“This programme is set to become a model for cooperation and joint development by South Africa and other developing nations,” she continued.
“Another exciting project for the DOD entails the development of a new generation tactical communication system for the SANDF. Once completed, this system will be unparalleled in the world and will make provision for all tactical communication requirements for all arms of service and will ensure inter-operatability between all users. The communication system will encompass digital voice communication and state of the art transmission and information security techniques. The program is progressing exceptionally well and demonstrations of prototypes of the first radios have been very successful,” she said of project Radiate a tactical communications programme involving Reutech and Saab Grintek, the former in the high frequency (HF) environment and the later in the very HF an ultra HF ranges.
“To support South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, a Shallow Water Route Survey capability for the SA Navy was procured and established as a short term solution to a perceived shortfall in the Soccer World Cup 2010 security-planning milieu. The new system will be used to conduct route surveys in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town Harbours and contribute towards underwater security in the respective ports.
“The system uses new Multi Beam Echo Sounder technology which will provide a full seafloor search of the seabed and provides accurate and precise data during a Shallow Water Route Survey for the provision of safe navigation and underwater security.”