Denel has not abandoned its 105 mm LEO artillery project and is looking for partners to conclude development of the weapon. This comes as Armscor has issued a request for information for light artillery for the South African Army.
According to Denel Group Acting CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe, although the LEO was developed many years ago, Denel is now looking for a client to co-develop the gun. This would entail producing a prototype ahead of production. “Because of the nature of conflict you need a light air transportable gun. We have not abandoned that project,” he said earlier this week, as Denel is looking for investors or partners to take it to completion.
A request for information has gone out for light artillery for the South African Army, which may be a launch customer for the weapon. Ntshepe said that if a South African requirement is limited, Denel will ask the South African National Defence Force if other investors can come on board the project.
The 105 mm Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO/G7) gun has the logistics footprint of a 105 mm howitzer but the range and terminal performance of a 155 mm system. Work on the 58-calibre project started during the 1990s under Project Musuku, a South African Army/Armscor research and development programme.
At the request of General Dynamics Land Systems, the LEO was repackaged into a Denel Land Systems-designed turret, and fitted on a General Dynamics LAV III (Piranha) vehicle that was demonstrated to the US Army between 2004 and 2006.
Rheinmetall Denel Munition developed a range of munitions for LEO, including high explosive, incendiary high explosive, illumination, insensitive high explosive pre-formed fragmentation, practice and base bleed rounds. Boat tail rounds achieved a range of 24 km in testing, while the base bleed shells have a range of more than 30 km.
“In the area of artillery requirements, Denel continues to invest a significant amount in the wheeled self-propelled 155mm 52-calibre G6 gun-howitzer. Other initiatives include working on extending the range and accuracy of some missiles, as well as enhancements to the vehicle product offering,” Ntshepe said. He added that G6 upgrades are being drive by customer requirements and some upgrades have already been implemented such as an improved barrel, improved mobility and better electronics.
He said that a 52 calibre G6 is being promoted to a Middle Eastern customer, which is very interested. He said two potential deals are close to conclusion regarding the artillery piece.
Ntsehpe revealed that Denel is testing its T5-52 truck mounted G5 artillery piece in a foreign country (possibly Pakistan) and that it has performed very well. He said he hopes the weapon will penetrate the Asia-Pacific market.
The Denel Land Systems T5-52 wheeled self-propelled howitzer mounts the G5 artillery piece aboard a Tatra 8×8 T815-7 truck.
The South African Army may receive six T5-52 wheeled self-propelled howitzers from Denel Land Systems. A defenceWeb source earlier this year said six Army G5s were delivered from South African Army stocks to the United Arab Emirates and as a result the SA Army would be getting new T5-52s as replacements.