Algerian Umkhonto production almost complete


Denel Dynamics will complete production of Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles for the Algerian Navy in January 2017.

The company on 30 November said deliveries are at an advanced stage, with extensive testing scheduled to take place in early 2017.
“Denel Dynamics is one of 130 global suppliers that equip the frigates with systems ranging from engines, to sensors to weapon systems. The five year programme – named Javelin – comprises the delivery of the Umkhonto Infrared SAM, the on-board fire control equipment and the missile rounds for two Meko A200-AN frigates,” the company said, without explicitly naming Algeria as the customer.
“After four years of manufacturing, integration and commissioning we have now reached the final stages of the programme,” said Tsepo Monaheng, the CEO of Denel Dynamics. The focus now shifts to the client country where the life firings will soon take place.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmbH began construction of the first of Algeria’s two Meko frigates in August 2012. The first vessel, named Erradii and equipped with the Umkhonto, arrived in Algiers on 19 April this year and was commissioned into service.

The second vessel was launched in December 2015 and will be delivered early next year. Denel said the installation, integration and commissioning phases for the second frigate are completed and final sea acceptance trials took place in October 2016.

Monaheng said the Umkhonto SAM is now operational in 12 naval vessels across the world – eight of them in the northern hemisphere – and these are the SA Navy’s four Valour class frigates, the Finnish navy’s four Hamina fast attack craft and two Hameenmaaa class minelayers and the Algerian Navy’s two Meko A200 class frigates.
“It, again, demonstrates that the South African defence industry can hold its own against the best of the world and that our products and systems are highly competitive,” Monaheng said.

The Denel Dynamics Umkhonto (Spear) was originally developed with a 12 km range but this was increased to 15 km and Denel has demonstrated it can reach out to 20 km, with a ceiling of 8 000 metres. It reaches speeds of around Mach 2.5. Denel Dynamics is currently working on a longer range version (60 km) as part of an integrated air defence system as well as radar guided and surface target versions. In 2013 Denel Dynamics for the first time fired the weapon from land – the system was originally developed for naval applications.

Once deployed, the 135 kg missile has a reaction time of 2.5 seconds and half-second intervals between missile launches. Umkhonto uses inertial navigation and mid-course guidance from the launch ship or from a land based radar and then switches to its dual-band thermal imaging seeker for a lock on after launch capability. The missile manoeuvres through tail-mounted control fins and thrust vectoring vanes in the motor nozzle.

Although it is primarily an anti-missile and anti-aircraft system, its 23 kg pre-fragmented warhead with an active proximity fuse makes it effective against surface targets like ships as well.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports that Algeria ordered 100 Umkhonto missiles in 2012. In addition to the Umkhonto missiles, Algeria’s Meko frigates are armed with the OTO Melara 127/64 LW (Lightweight) 127 mm naval gun; MSI-Defence 30 mm cannons; Rheinmetall Defence MASS softkill decoy launchers; MU90 torpedoes and Saab/Diehl Defence RBS 15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles.

Sensors include the Saab Sea Giraffe AMB (Agile Multi-Beam) 3D surveillance radar; Saab CEROS 200 radar/electro-optical (EO) fire control directors and Thales UMS4132 Kingklip sonar.

Algeria also ordered six AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopters for the vessels and these are being fitted with Thales Compact FLASH dipping sonars, MU90 torpedoes and Denel Dynamics Mokopa missiles. 100 Mokopas were ordered in 2012, according to SIPRI.

Algeria also received 50 Raptor II guided weapons from Denel Dynamics in 2008, according to SIPRI. The Raptor II has several guidance options, such as GPS/INS for fire-and-forget attacks, or low-light TV or infrared, and the target can be changed in flight. As the weapon’s communications pod is mounted on the launch aircraft or on a second aircraft, the weapon can be controlled from up to 200 kilometres away.

The 1 200 kilogramme weapon is fitted with a 600 kilogramme penetration or fragmentation warhead and has a circular error probability of three metres. Rocket motors gives the weapon a range of 130+ kilometres. It has been integrated on the Mirage III, Mirage F1, Mirage V, Cheetah and Sukhoi Su-24 aircraft.