Denel Dynamics develops new missiles


Denel Dynamics is expanding its missile portfolio with new weapons, including the Cheetah air defence missile and P2 surface-to-air munition, while at the same time enhancing its existing product range.

The P2 is a small diameter weapon that was developed for a launch customer in the Middle East as a low-cost, medium range precision-guided munition ideal for platforms like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It was designed and developed in 18 months after a contract in September 2015, with a programmed flight test in November 2016 and a successful guided flight test in March 2017. The 14 kg P2 is GPS-guided, but will have an active laser sensor in the future.

The P2 complements the Impi and Impi-S missiles, a self-funded development by Denel Dynamics. Whereas the P2 does not have a motor, the Impi and Impi-S do, allowing launch from a variety of flight profiles. Based on the Mokopa and Ingwe, the smaller Impi is designed for light aircraft such as helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. The 15 kilogramme Impi-S is inertial/semi-active laser-guided and has a range of 6 kilometres.

On the larger end of the scale Denel Dynamics produces the 10 km range Mokopa missile, which has been sold to Algeria. There it has been fitted with both anti-tank and anti-ship warheads. Algeria has also received the Ingwe anti-tank missile, as has Malaysia (deliveries are set to wrap up in 2019). According to Sello Ntsihlele, head of business development at Denel Dynamics, the company is working on the Ingwe NG, which will have better range and increased accuracy. Development is a five-year process, with the missile to be ready in about two years’ time.

One of Denel Dynamics’ most important programmes is the A-Darter fifth generation air-to-air missile. The company is currently finishing off development (final qualifications are expected by year-end) and preparing to launch production for the South African Air Force (SAAF) around 2019. Due to funding constraints, it is likely that the missile will only be fitted to the Gripen fleet and not the Hawk lead-in fighter/trainers. A-Darter is seen as an alternative to European missiles and may be offered as a standard option for several fighter jets.

Meanwhile, development of Marlin beyond visual range and radar-guided air-to-air missile technology demonstrator is continuing. This is being developed for the SAAF. It is envisaged that Marlin development will include a surface-to-air variant. Marlin will have an estimated top speed of Mach 4.

Other missile projects include the extended range (ER) version of the Umkhonto surface-to-air missile, and the development of a radar-guided Umkhonto. The vertically launched Umkhonto is in use by the SA Navy, the Finnish Navy and the Algerian Navy. It will be integrated into the South African Army’s Ground Based Air Defence System (GBADS).

Denel Dynamics’ other air defence solutions include the Cheetah and Mongoose missiles. In 2016 the company unveiled a counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) system also able to counter cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters. The Mongoose-3 missile is able to provide protection out to distances of 2 000 metres while the larger Cheetah missile can provide protection out to 10 000 metres. The C-RAM system integrates into Rheinmetall’s Skyshield air defence system. The Cheetah missile has its own radar seeker and a proximity warhead.

Another successful Denel Dynamics project has been the Umbani guided bomb kit, which has been sold to countries in the Middle East. This is a versatile kit that can be fitted to Mk 81 (120 kg), Mk 82 (240 kg) or Mk 83 (450 kg) bombs. Several guidance options are available, including GPS, semi-active laser, and infrared and imaging infrared (IIR). As the weapon is modular, it can be fitted with wings for extended range.

Between 2010 and 2014, Denel concluded contracts to the value of R1.6 billion for the sale of Umbani to a customer in the Middle East. Ntsihlele said the Umbani contract has just been completed, and he is optimistic more missiles will be ordered in the future.