Rheinmetall Denel Munitions is spending some R85 million on research and development, CE Norbert Schulze says. Of this R35 million was spent last year and R50 million is to be spent this year.
“Likewise the quality of our manufacturing infrastructure and facilities is of critical importance to ensure the integrity of our products. We have invested some R447 million in a three-year programme for the upgrading of our facilities,” Schulze said at Defence Day 2011 at Alkantpan in the Northern Cape last week.
“Some of you might have already visited our new test range for 40mm high-, medium- and low velocity rounds at Somerset West that will be officially opened in September. This marks a further milestone in our quest to achieve international excellence in the business.
“We recently completed the acquisition of a South African company, Laingsdale Engineering, with Rheinmetall Waffe Munition holding the majority share of 51% and Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) the remaining 49% in Rheinmetall Laingsdale,” Schulze aid in his address. “We regard this expansion as central to our business growth and it also underlines our commitment to the South African market. We have the capacity to design and produce entire products and systems in house to meet the needs of our clients and through the new acquisition we will further improve our ability to bring new products to the market through our control of the entire value chain in development.”
The RDM chief further noted RDM is now “the designated Mortar House of Rheinmetall” and therefore strongly focuses on the development and qualification of improved performance 60mm, 81mm and 120mm mortar ammunition suites. “This range will define the role of the mortar weapon new in the theatres where our soldiers are ensuring freedom for the world we live in.”
Schulze also saw a significant market for RDM’s “highly innovative” 105mm pre-formed fragmented (PFF) artillery ammunition that provide significant cost and performance advantages to the user. RDM business development executive Gyff Fitchatt noted at the event the HE PFF shell, which LEO fires to over 30km, was 1.6 times more lethal than a standard 155mm round. He called the family “extremely accurate” and said the effects could not be replicated with 155mm systems. At last Tuesday’s demonstration, the 105mm achieved verified ranges of 33 133m and 33 111m when fired from Denel Land System’s light experimental ordnance (LEO) gun-howitzer fitted to a US General Dynamics Land Systems Stryker 8×8 armoured vehicle.
Other focus areas for the R&D spend are the completion of the qualification of the Assegai 155mm ammunition family to replace current legacy ranges in the near future, 40mm grenades, mine breaching systems and 76mm naval ammunition. Talking about the Assegai family, Schulze noted this “is at present the only full range ammunition suite, ballistically matched, comprising of IHE [insensitive high explosive], HE, Illumination, Smoke and IR [infra red] rounds.
“We are doing innovative work on traditional 40mm low and high velocity ammunition while a whole new range of medium velocity 40mm ammunition is nearing completion,” he told his audience of some 220 acquisition decision-makers and decision-formers from 36 countries. “We have reached the final qualification phase for the new Minefield Breaching System which can clear a safe path up to 160m in length and 8m in width.
As one of the world’s leading suppliers of 76mm 62-calibre naval ammunition, we are keeping our competitive edge with the introduction of insensitive munition capabilities providing the user and military logistic chain with enhanced safety and performance. Insensitive munition capabilities are being introduced throughout the product range to meet the growing worldwide demand.”