Denel Dynamics and its subcontractor Rheinmetall Denel Munitions are working on a new series of warheads for the missile company’s best selling Ingwe (Leopard) precision guided missile (PGM).
“As you know Ingwe was developed as an antitank missile,” says Denel Dynamics “But the threat profile has changed completely over the past decade or so. As a result customers now want to use it as a generic precision land-attack missile, against bunkers, observation posts, even buildings. So we are looking at multi-purpose warheads. RDM and ourselves are working on technology concepts to offer alternative warheads other than just the highly successful tandem (dual) antitank warhead.”
The multi-purpose warhead will have some penetration capability but also blast. The company have also done “some studies” on thermobaric warheads. “We know what the technology can offer,” Wessels says.
The major activities on the Ingwe programme is developing the missile variant of the Badger infantry combat vehicle as part of Project Hoefyster and integrating the weapon on the Eurocopter EC635 and AS550 Fennec light utility helicopters. “We think that’s got a lot of potential,” Wessels says of the latter collaboration that is done for Franco-South African aerospace company ATE. “The fact that they selected the Ingwe missile … once ATE and Eurocopter has installed our missile and we perform as I know we will, I see a very bright future…
“The Ingwe is a good match for a light helicopter like that. It must be a balanced package. The missile cost must be appropriate to that of the helicopter..” Wessels credits the choice of Ingwe to positive feedback from other customers where Denel Dynamics and ATE integrated the weapon onto the Mil Mi-24 “Hind” attack helicopter. “… the feedback is phenomenal. The message is that Ingwe works really well off a helicopter.” Although Wessels declined to name the customers because of confidentiality agreements, it is widely known that they include Algeria.
On Hoefyster, Denel Dynamics is sub-contracted to Denel Land Systems to modernise the guidance system of the Ingwe, designated the ZT3A2 in the South African Army.
Asked about the potential of guided rockets,as developed for the US Army in recent years, the CE said it amounted to an expensive compromise.
“We have been advising our air force and other customers in this regard. The Ingwe is clearly the most affordable Western missile in its class. Ingwe has a big warhead and is very accurate, with a proven 5.5km range. A rocket has a shorter range, a smaller warhead, yet with a basic guidance system it ends up costing almost the same. Cost wise, guided rockets are not yet cost effective, except if manufactured in very large quantities. If production runs are small – say in the hundreds – then you rather go for an Ingwe which has greater universal utility than a guided rocket. Of course, it may change in future as with all technologies,” Wessels adds.