The South African Army has ordered an undisclosed further number of Milan antitank guided missile (ATGM) for use by the Special Forces as well as airborne and motorised infantry. The R57 990 630.80 purchase order was awarded to Euromissile [sic] last week. It takes the known value of Project Kingfisher – according to the Armscor Bulletin System (ABS) – to R271 076 483.37.
The Kingfisher contract was placed on December 20, 2006, and initially escaped media notice. South Africa was the global launch customer of the new generation Milan ADT (Advanced Digital Technology) launcher and Milan ER (extended range) missile. The deal included Fulcrum Defence Systems (FDS), an EADS and MBDA local partner, upgrading about 30 existing Milan firing posts to ADT standard. They will also provide training, four simulators and logistic support. MBDA, the European missile-maker that now incorporates Euromissile, will provide the munitions. “We estimate our contribution will be worth about R30 million, which is a good investment in the local industry,” CE André Wolmarans told defenceWeb in 2007.
MBDA said at the time the digital technologies incorporated in the ADT firing post had notably enhanced the system’s ability to detect, reconnoitre and identify targets. The upgrade entailed replacing the control box as well as the electronics of the guidance unit and integrating new software and optics. The cards bearing the software were manufactured in South Africa and an initial batch of 33 sets was in manufacture at FDS by 2007.
In March 2009 the military ordered a further 13 Milan ADT firing posts and four simulators under a contract worth €10.7 million (about R129.3 million at then exchange rates, but R81.5 million on the ABS.
The 3000m range Milan ER comes with jam-proof wire guidance, night sight and a tandem charge. Optimised for pulverising tanks, the warhead is rated as “multi-target.” A MBDA official explained to the author in 2004 than an analysis of missiles expended in the Falklands in 1982 – and confirmed by the 2003 Iraq war – found more than 70 percent expended on targets other than tanks, mostly bunkers and buildings. “You may say a Milan is too expensive to use against a machine gun, and on a cost analysis it is. But what is he cost of a human life? How many must die in assaulting that machine gun position?”
The competition for Kingfisher pitted MBDA and Saab Bofors Dynamics, the latter offering SA the BILL 2 (Bofors Infantry Light & Lethal). Other competitors included Denel who at one stage appeared hopeful that a four-round pedestal-launched version of their Mokopa would do the job. Also interested in the project was Russia and India. Russia was offering the 4000-metre range Konkurs, the latest version of what NATO officially used to call the AT4 Spigot system. (Unoffi cially, they call it the “Milanski” believing it to be a reverse-engineered copy of the European original.) Combining the two was India, who customised the Konkurs’ launcher to fire both the Russian and the European missile. MBDA was selected as the preferred supplier in September 2006.
Wolmarans added in 2007 that his company has also been contracted by MBDA to form a service hub for Africa. “They are doing a total knowledge transfer to Fulcrum regarding the firing posts. There are currently 1600 posts in use on the continent we can look at maintaining and upgrading. The possibility of upgrading firing posts for customers in the rest of the world is not excluded,” he adds. “A number of countries using the Milan lack a service centre and we are looking at filling that gap.”
MBDA is jointly owned by BAE Systems (37.5%), EADS (37.5%) and Italy’s Finmeccanica (25%).
From the ABS:
Missile 115 mm high energy anti tank tandem – MILAN 3
ETMG/2010/399 19 May 2011 R57 990 630,80 Euromissile
Man portable missile products systems – extension of ETMG/2005/531
TMG/S2008/1016 11 Mar 2009 R81 568 388,57 Euromissile
Man portable missile products system
ETMG/2005/531 19 Jan 2007 R131 511 464.00. Euromissile