The South African Army has awarded Denel a R30.6 million contract for design risk reduction related to the ground based launcher for the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto missile. The work forms part of Project Protector, also known as the Ground-based Air Defence System (GBADS) Phase II.
The award takes known spending on the missile component of the project to R134 787 961.39 since 2007. Total known spending stands at R200 738 80.27.
Denel Dynamics last September showcased the short-range infra-red guided air defence missile’s capacity in the ground role at the Africa Aerospace & Defence (AAD) 2010 exhibition in Cape Town. Machiel Oberholzer, Executive Manager Air Defence at Denel Dynamics, says the 125kg, 12km range missile is now proven as a surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile in high clutter naval environments including littoral water and land warfare scenarios. “Umkhonto can now comfortably be applied to Ground Based Air Defence Systems (GBADS),” he said just before AAD.
The missile is the Mark II version of the weapon featuring much enhanced “clutter” performance proven earlier this year during live firing trials with the Finnish Navy that operates the short-range air defence system (SHORADS) aboard four Hamina class missile boats and two Hämeenmaa class minelayers.
The SA Army has stepped up its funding for Project Protector, in recent months. Denel Dynamics was in July awarded a small contract to conduct risk reduction study for a ground-based launcher. The tiny contract came just before an announcement by the navy of Finland that the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto-IR Mk II SHORAD had successfully completed a series of system validation firing trials in the Baltic Sea.
The Finnish Navy launched Umkhonto Block 2 surface-to-air missiles during two successful test firings at the Lohtaja test range in May last year. Finnish Navy minelayer Uusimaa and other participating vessels made their way to the test range through the winter ice and after taking up their respective positions, and after system and safety checks were completed, a Banshee target drone was deployed from land. “For the first firing this extremely small target was tracked by the ship sensor systems,” Denel says in a statement. “After a white run confirmed all systems were working, Umkhonto promptly destroyed the target with a direct hit during the red run. The second firing utilised a different ship sensor to track the target. Again Umkhonto achieved a direct hit confirming the unique capability of this missile.”
The Air Defence Artillery has a long-standing requirement for a SHORADS to compliment its small number of twin GDF Mk V 35mm air defence guns and Thales Starstreak very short-range air defence (VSHORAD) missiles. Project Protector is currently a technology programme being funded by the SA Army ADA through the Department of Defence’s Defence Secretariat’s Defence Materiel Division’s Directorate Technology.
The Umkhonto is also in service aboard the SA Navy’s Valour-class frigates. Frigate project director Rear Admiral (JG) Johnny Kamerman at a media conference in 2006 said the development of the system had begun in 1993. South Africa decided to develop its own system even after sanctions was lifted because high-end systems such as the US AEGIS were unaffordable — “we can’t afford the launchers, let alone the missiles,” Kamerman explained — and low-end systems like shoulder-launched missiles were “a waste of time”.
Land-based testing ended in July 2005 when the system was adjudged shore-qualified. The testing involved telemetry intercepts of a Skua target drone in various profiles, including low-level, head on and in evasive manoeuvres. The tests culminated in a Skua being destroyed with a “standard warhead”, Kamerman said.
In May 2008 Oberholzer told defenceWeb the Umkhonto development path included an extended range (ER) IR variant as well as an all-weather radar-guided version and an ER version of that. As stated above, the current infrared-guided Umkhonto has a range of 12km. Oberholzer said this was being expanded as part of a pre-planned product improvement initiative. An extended-range infrared version is planned and will range up to 22km. The radar version, dubbed the AWSAM – all weather surface to air missile – would have a 20km range, while an extended range version fitted with a booster rocket (AWSAM-E) – would hit out up to 30km – which placed it in the medium-range capability. He added the advantage of such a family of missiles was that “you can have a cocktail of missiles in your launchers so you can engage with the most appropriate one to the threat. Infrared missiles are cheaper than radar and you don’t want to use an expensive missile to shoot down an easy target.”
Denel Dynamics CE Jan Wessels has said the company is looking for funding partners for the advanced Umkhonto future configurations. “It will ideally be a programme like A-Darter”, the R1 billion joint venture 5th generation IR short-range air-to-air missile being developed with Brazil. But he also questions the notion that Umkhonto IR is just a good-weather system. “If you can just highlight that’s not the case. The fact that the SA and Finnish navies have selected Umkhonto after in-depth studies – despite typical naval weather conditions – says it all. How this missile works is you have an advanced 3D radar on the ship or launch point and that keeps tracking the target after the missile is fired and via datalink guides the missile to within the last kilometre or so.
“Only then does the IR seeker become active. The more accurate the 3D radar is, the more you can do and the better the performance as an all-weather system. The IR seeker is just used for the last pinpoint accuracy. The better the radar, the better the missile.” It is therefore no longer clear that the all-weather variant will be radar guided as was provided for in earlier thinking.
Oberholzer says the Block 2 weapon will form the basis of Umkhonto GBADS. “It is a good concept, six missiles in an ISO-container that can be mounted on any type of vehicle, that has a 360-degree engagement capability and a high kill probability due to is large warhead,” Oberholzer adds. “Now that the missile’s range, all weather options and rejection of ECM (electronic counter measures) have been extended, these test firings re-affirm that Umkhonto is still the best choice for any navy and we are proud to have the the Block 2 for land application as well.”
The upgrade also enables easy integration with different radar and platform solutions in network centric applications.
Meanwhile, Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) is separately receiving funding to demonstrate a 3D air defence artillery radar for known as the RSR 320 or DBR XL. The system is based on the ESR 220 Thutlwa (ex Kameelperd, Giraffe) local warning radar already in service with the SA Army ADA, but with the addition of high-accuracy 3D target detection and tracking capabilities. Known funding stands at R65 950 918.88.
Ground based launcher design risk reduction
ETMG/2010/394 10 Feb 2011 R30 699 000,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Modelling and simulation decision support during the project study of the integration, command, control and sensor needs for the ground based air defence system – Extension of EBEB/2008/334
BEB/S2010/2417 22 Dec 2010 R592 330,80 CSIR t/a DPSS
Systems engineering staff support for Ground Based Air Defence System Phase 2
EBEB/2010/119 8 Sep 2010 R3 524 000,00 Monze Consultants CC
Staff support during the Project study which addresses the integration, command, control and sensor needs for Ground Based Air Defence Systems – extension of EBEB/2008/425
BEB/S2010/2382 5 Aug 2010 R2 086 185,90 CSIR t/a DPSS
Risk reduction studies for a ground based launcher
ETMG/2009/179 9 Jul 2010 R173 915,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Dynamics
Staff support during the Project study for the integration, command and control and sensor needs for Ground Based Air Defence System
EBEB/2008/425 12 Jun 2009 R4 493 000,00 CSIR t/a DPSS
Modelling and simulation decision support during the project study for the integration, command, control and sensor needs for the Ground Based Air Defence System
EBEB/2008/334 5 Feb 2009 R9 378 710,09 CSIR t/a DPSS
Ground Based launcher for Umkhonto Surface-to-Air-Missile
ETMG/2007/361 9 Apr 2008 R10 093 998,97 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Surface-to-air missile system technology for the ground based air defence system environment
ETMG/2008/228 13 Nov 2008 R16 447 366,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Continued modelling and simulation acquisition decision support to the ground based air defence system Phase 2, mobile air defence system programme
EBEB/2008/227 30 Oct 2008 R2 121 049,00 CSIR t/a DPSS
Ground based launcher for Umkhonto surface-to-air missile – extension of ETMG/2007/361
TMG/S2008/0980 25 Sep 2008 R2 832 424,03 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Interim support for Umkhonto Missile System
ETMG/2008/71 11 Sep 2008 R3 805 810,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles
TMG/S2007/0829 8 Aug 2007 R47 947 520,04 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Umkhonto-IR tests: Range costs
ETMG/2006/153 29 Mar 2007 R592 651,56 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
Reutech Radar Systems RSR 320/DBR XL dual band radar
Development of threat evaluation and weapons assignment and track manager concept demostrators
EBEB/2009/75 30 Oct 2009 R8 996 650,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Dual band radar technology
ERES/2008/584 25 Jun 2009 R11 491 228,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Support to Reutech Radar systems on the DBR XL technology – extension of ERES/2007/340
RES/S2009/2095 21 May 2009 R1 140 350,88 CSIR t/a DPSS
RES/S2008/2072 5 Feb 2009 R350 877,00 CSIR t/a DPSS
Investigate the levels of threat evaluation and weapon assignment in cooperation with the University of Stellenbosch and Defence Peace Safety and Security in support of the Dual Band Radar X and L bands project – extension of ERES/2007/455
RES/S2008/2019 20 Nov 2008 R1 900 597,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Development of dual band radar technology – extension of ERES/2007/224
RES/S2008/2050 20 Nov 2008 R4 561 403,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Client furnished equipment preparation of the last two battery fire control post for the Ground Based Air Defence System phase 2 programme
EBEB/2007/537 26 Jun 2008 R14 602 688,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Investigate the levels of threat evaluation and weapon assignment in cooperation with the University of Stellenbosch and Defence Peace Safety and Security in support of the Dual Band Radar X and L bands project
ERES/2007/455 14 Feb 2008 R1 350 877,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Development of dual band radar technology
ERES/2007/224 22 Nov 2007 R14 000 000,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd
Client furnished equipment preparation of the battery fire control post for the GBADS Phase 2 programme
EBEB/2006/506 28 Mar 2007 R7 556 248,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd