Denel successfully fires land-based Umkhonto surface-to-air missile


Denel has successfully tested the land-based version of its Umkhonto surface-to-air (SAM) missile at the Denel Overberg Test Range, where the weapon destroyed targets at a range of 20 km.

The live fire exercises, carried out between October 1 and 3, were the first with the land-based version of Denel Dynamics’ naval Umkhonto SAM. Denel said that observers from nine countries joined officials from the Ministry of Defence, Armscor and the SANDF to witness the firing.

During the demonstration three missiles successfully destroyed low-cost aerial target systems (LOCATS – provided by the South African Army), two at 15 km range and one at 20 km. The targets were launched from Denel’s range at the southern tip of Africa and flew out to sea before turning inshore on an elliptical track. The successful ground-based firing tests proved that the range of the Umkhonto has now been extended to 20 km while the physical dimensions of the missile remain unchanged, Denel said.

The targets were engaged by the Umkhonto missiles in their lock-on-after-launch mode. The Reutech Radar Systems new RSR-320 dual-band 3D radar provided mid-course guidance updates to get the missiles within range of their infrared seekers.

The Umkhonto SAM system was developed by Denel Dynamics for the SA Navy’s Meko A200 class frigates, and is in service in both Block 1 and Block 2 versions. The Block 2, with a range of 15 km, is also used by the Finnish Navy aboard its Hamina class corvettes and Hämeenmaa class mine layers. The Block 2 variant features a 3 km greater range and a seeker aimed at processing cluttered environments, especially in look-down mode. The Umkhonto has reportedly been selected by Algeria for use on its Meko frigates.

Denel said the newly-developed ground-based launcher now provides an alternative that can also be used by the SA Army for Phase 2 of its Ground-based Air Defence System (GBADS) – a project that is also managed by Denel, the company said. The RSR-320 radar could also be used for GBADS Phase 2.

The RSR-320 radar was developed from the 2D Thutlwa ESR 220 radar, currently in service with the South African Army, and designed as a missile guidance radar, according to IHS Janes.

Riaz Saloojee, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Denel said the successful testing of the recently modified Umkhonto missile demonstrated the company’s global leadership in the development and manufacturing of guided weapons. This was the first time an integrated air defence system developed entirely in South Africa was demonstrated.
“Our local defence industry can develop products that are comparable and better than what is available in the rest of the world,” said Saloojee. “This contributes to the strategic capabilities of the SANDF and strengthens the high-technology proficiencies of the defence sector.”

Denel Dynamics is developing a longer range Umkhonto variant with a range exceeding 20 km, as well as a radar-guided version.

In collaboration with Brazilian partners Denel is also developing and testing its new generation air-to-air missile, the A-Darter.