The South African Special Forces will shortly receive a Thales Defence Systems (TDS) Scorpion automated weapons platform for testing and evaluation. At present just one system has been ordered at a cost of R7.5 million but officials say they are “waiting for a production order soon.” The system has also already been demonstrated in the Middle East.
The Scorpion is a self-contained direct and indirect automated mortar and rocket fire control system mounted on a palletised platform that can be fired from the back of a vehicle in less than 15 seconds from stopping versus 15 minutes with a conventional system. Company literature available at the Africa Aerospace & Defence exhibition in Cape Town last week noted this was made possible through “ballistic calculations,orientation methods and recoil absorbsion.” The system can fit a range of 60mm, 81mm and 82mm mortar tubes as well as rocket systems such as the Chinese 12-barrel Type 63 107mm multiple rocket launcher system.
The system consists of a motorised mortar and rocket platform providing automated tube laying and correction twinned with an observer sighting system. This includes an angle measurement pedestal to sense the position and attitude of the vehicle. Position sensing is by inertial means supplemented by a global positioning system and distance information.
The pedestal also carries an observer payload that includes the Thales Sophie binocular/thermal imager with laser rangefinder, camera, dismountable digital magnetic compass and a The system can also share target and situational data between observer and launcher vehicles via a datalink or radio or receive such data from “other sources”.
“By combining precision [knowledge of one’s] own position with good target data, the fire solution and mortar laying data can easily be computed. The computed values are then used to control the motorised platform to lay the mortar/rocket tubes accurately. This can be done without relying on external (traditional) survey methods. The system can effective shoot-and-shift during an engagement and attack again from a different position without the need to survey the new position. The fire solution and mortar laying data updates automatically in the background.”