The South African Army has awarded Logistical & Mechanical Services CC of Moreleta Park, Pretoria to conduct a obsolescence risk mitigation study for Project Muhali Phase 1B, the upgrade programme for the G6’s ammunition and charge system. The study will be worth R336 255.95, taking the value of work on the G6 to R52 312 503.83 since 2007.
The 2010 edition of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance publication lists the South African Artillery as currently employing two G6 L45 and having an additional 41 in store. The system is allocated in various numbers to the SA Army Artillery School, the Artillery Mobilisation Regiment, and the composite 4 Artillery Regiment, all of Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg – and all regular units. The system also serves with the reserve Natal Field Artillery of Durban and Transvaal Horse Artillery of Johannesburg.
Author Clive Wilsworth in “First in, First Out, The South African Artillery in Action 1975-1988 (30 Degrees South Publishers, Johannesburg, 2010) notes the G5, properly the GV5 Luiperd (leopard) and self-propelled (SP) GV6 Renoster (rhino)was developed from a need identified in 1968 and formalised in 1973 “when the gunners set the requirements to modernise their equipment in line with the Army’s upgrading programme”. Work began in 1974 under the rubric Project Boas.
At the time, the Artillery employed a towed 88mm quick-firing gun, later renamed the GV1 (Geskut, Veld 1; Gun, Field 1), a SP version of the same weapon, named the Sexton (later the GV7) and a breech-loading towed 140mm howitzer, later the GV2. As a first step, six captured Soviet M46 130mm guns were acquired from Israel (and later returned). Next some 32 M71 155mm towed guns were acquired from Soltam and placed into service as the GV4 (Project Burrow). Six surplus US M2 155mm towed “Long Tom” howitzers were then acquired (Project Sherbet I) from the Canadian Space Research Corporation (SRC), headed by Dr Gerald Bull, as the GV3, along with a new type of extended range full bore (ERFB) ammunition (the M57) and M11 propellent charges (Projects Sherbet II and Ghost).
Wilsworth says the GV5, itself, was conceived in July 1976 (Projects Sherbet III) and later named the Luiperd (Leopard), a nomenclature never used. Neither was the “V” in the designation “GV5”. Input from Iraq, who purchased some 200 of the type, under the designation FF551, led to revisions of the design. Sherbet III also saw South Africa purchase 30 000 shells from the SRC. Project Factor saw the development of proximity fuses, Project Gallows the development of the M10 charge. Project Action was the development of white phosphorus projectiles by SRC and Naschem, s well as illumination and smoke projectiles by the SRC and Swartklip (no part of Rheinmetall Denel Munition.
Project Cabbage was the acquisition of the SAMIL gun tractors, Project Olim the industrialisation and production of the M10 and M11 charge system at Somchem (including 16 605 charges imported from Canada). Project Gong was the industrialisation and production of the M57 projectile by Naschem (including 55 792 imported from Canada), Bulb the acquisition of test equipment, Décor the development of the M82 percussion tube, Buzzard the development of the SP artillery system (G6) as well as base bleed projectiles and Project PDM572 the production of the PDM572 point detonating fuse. Project Dibula was the development of the AS80 fire control computer by Teklogic (now Thales Defence Systems), Gharra the Kentron Seeker unmanned aerial vehicle and Ignite an artillery laser range finder and night vision for mounting on Ratel forward observation post vehicles. Project Zenula was the development and production of the G6. Wilsworth notes that Armscor engineers at first believed “that a vehicle that potentially weighed 35 tonnes could not be wheeled: there were just not any tyres that can take that weight. Not so, it turned out.”
An experimental developmental model of the chassis was ready in 1980. Trouble was encountered with the rear differentials and turret recoil system. The latter was especially troubling during sustained firing in very hot conditions. “The system would overheat and destroy the oil in the recuperator thus preventing the gun from fully running up (returning to the firing position),” Wilsworth wrote. A new recoil system had to be developed to solve the problem and this took engineers until 1991.
All three pre-production models saw action as “Juliet Troop” during Operation Modular, seeing considerable action in November 1987.
One G6-related project that did not come to fruition was Afstof, the quest for an acoustic target acquisition systems and artillery location radar. These would have replaced and improved upon the British Green Archer and Cymbeline mortar locating radars that were always too flimsy to survive the African bush.
Post-war followed Project Klooster, a new target acquisition and fire control system that built on the lessons learnt in Angola and Namibia – “especially the problem of observation and target fixation,” Wilsworth adds. The Artillery Target Engagement System (ATES) that resulted and is only now coming into service includes:
the Basic Artillery Observation System (man portable observation post equipment),
the Enhanced Artillery Observation System (Ratel mounted sensors for day and night observation etc),
the Gun Muzzle velocity analyzer for G5 and 6,
the Vulture Unmanned Air Vehicle Observation System,
fire control computers,
artillery command computers,
digital communications for the artillery, and
and the S700 meteorological system.
The 9m-long vehicle weighs in at 37 metric tons (mt), with the turret weighing 9mt. It can travel at
90km/h and drive 600km without refuelling. The G6 boasts a crew of six (driver in hull, gun captain, gunlayer/navigator, breech operator, loader and ammunition handler in turret). The armour is proof against 7.62×51 mm AP from 30m. Frontal protection against 14.5mm HMG fire from 1000m at an angle of 30 degrees. The eign can absorb a TM46 or 5.7kg of TNT under any wheel.
Traverse is 80 degrees across the frontal arc and elevation is from -5 to +75 degrees. The onboard gyro-controlled navigation and automatic laying systems enable the gun to be brought into action independently within a minute of stopping and it can move off 30 seconds after firing, thus presenting an elusive target. The G6 is equipped with an electronically controlled hydraulic flick rammer that provides an initial rate of fire of 3rpm. 47 projectiles are carried, 16 in the vehicle front and 31 in bins in fighting compartment accessed through the rear of the vehicle from outside. Fifty charges and 64 primers and fuses are carried.
The 155mm, 45-calibre main weapon has a chamber volume of 23 litres and a barrel length of 6.975m. In the direct fire role, the system can fire 3km, also its minimum indirect range. Maximum range is 30km, although with base bleed at sea level it climbs to 39km. (By contrast, the G6 L52 with a 25-litre chamber can range to 75km with a VLAP shell and did so on April 11, 2006 at Armscor’s Alkantpan test range.) The G6 uses the M90 bi-modular propelling charge system (BMCS), consisting of a 1.8kg green M91 and a 2.6kg white M92 module. The modules are built into charges that cover five and six zones respectively.
Obsolescence risk mitigation study for project Muhali phase 1B; GV6 obsolescence upgrade – extension of EAES/2009/63
AES/S2011/1196 1 Sep 2011 R336 255,95 Logistical & Mechanical Services CC
Procurement of GV6 MK1 vehicle spares for 2010/2011 and 2011/2012
EAES/2010/31 9 Sep 2010 R2 985 077,92 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
GV6 MK1 turret spares
EAES/2010/23 2 Sep 2010 R3 538 070,85 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
Maintenance and repair of GV6 attitude heading reference units – extension of EAES/2009/20
AES/S2010/1113 14 Oct 2010 R2 083 034,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
AES/S2010/1087 1 Jul 2010 R20 554,32 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Dynamics
Maintenance and repair of GV6 turret and A-class turret components – extension of EAES/2009/23
AES/S2010/1097 17 Jun 2010 R205 646,18 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
GV6 vehicle platform obsolescence management – extension of EAES/2009/380
AES/S2009/1062 4 Mar 2010 R24 562,50 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
GV6 vehicle platform obsolescence study
EAES/2009/380 21 Dec 2009 R366 815,10 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
GV6 MK 1 service packages for the 2009/2010, 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 financial years
EAES/2009/66 10 Sep 2009 R1 122 105,84 Contracts Logistics Equipment (Pty) Ltd
Procurement of equipment for the replenishment of GV6 containers
EAES/2009/92 10 Sep 2009 R1 172 647,00 Contracts Logistics Equipment (Pty) Ltd
Maintenance and repair of GV6 Mk1 attitude heading reference unit
EAES/2009/20 6 Aug 2009 R2 078 946,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Dynamics
Maintenance and storage of GV6 MK1 vehicle A-Class system items
EAES/2009/24 5 Aug 2009 R1 975 438,00 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
EAES/2008/620 25 Jun 2009 R13 690 550,00 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
EAES/2006/633 7 Jun 2007 R1 008 771,00 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
Maintenance and repair of GV6 Mk1 turret and turret A-class components
EAES/2009/23 25 Jun 2009 R9 825 689,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
GV6 system engineering support – extension of EAES/2007/632
AES/S2009/0995 4 Jun 2009 R482 455,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
Procurement of GV6 Mk1 strategic spares – extension of EAES/2008/374
AES/S2008/0961 11 Mar 2009 R86 966,77 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
GV6 Obsolescence management study – extension of EAES/2006/648
AES/S2008/0919 5 Feb 2009 R52 000,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
Procurement of GV6 MK1 Strategic Spares
EAES/2008/374 29 Jan 2009 R2 982 170,96 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
Procurement of GV6 MK1 tyres
EAES/2008/117 21 Nov 2008 R3 151 840,50 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
Maintenance and repair of GV6 Mk1 vehicle & vehicle A-Class items – extension of EATL/2006/2
ATL/S2008/0938 20 Nov 2008 R350 874,35 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
AES/S2007/0772 8 Aug 2007 R877 192,00 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
Artillery system engineering support GV6
EAES/2007/632 10 Jul 2008 R657 893,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
GV6 turret integration – extension of EATL/2004/549
AES/S2007/0781 16 Aug 2007 R400 000,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
Maintenance and repair of GV6 Mk1 attitude heading reference units
EAES/2006/630 2 Aug 2007 R1 066 656,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Aerospace
System engineering support for GV6 – extension of EATL/2005/267
AES/S2007/0752 5 Jul 2007 R175 438,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
GV 6 Vehicle Platform obsolescence study.
EAES/2006/647 29 Mar 2007 R535 438,00 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC
GV 6 Weapons System obsolescence study.
EAES/2006/648 29 Mar 2007 R803 157,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Land Systems
Procurement of twist lock frames for GV6 Mk1 logistic containers
EAES/2006/446 22 Feb 2007 R256 258,59 BAE Systems t/a Land Systems OMC