Cybicom Atlas Defence (CAD) and Rhino Marine are offering their new nine metre long polyethylene boats to the South African Navy for duties like harbour patrol, boarding operations and special forces deployment.
This reflects a new partnership bringing together a boat builder and a mission system integrator to deliver a local optimized turnkey solution, CAD said.
The new nine metre demonstrator boat is currently undergoing sea trials and will be made available to the Navy for evaluation, CAD said, with a demonstration scheduled to take place in Cape Town tomorrow.
The boat is a high-speed monohull designed by Rhino Marine in co-operation with Icarus Marine. It is manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which has a very high strength to density ratio, and is foam-filled. The nature of HDPE results in the boat hulls requiring minimal maintenance, CAD said, as they require no painting, do not corrode and can be repaired within 15-20 minutes. HDPE is only slightly more expensive and heavier than conventional materials but CAD believes that its low maintenance requirements will result in significant life cycle cost savings.
The demonstrator boats currently come in three different variants: a small workboat, a multipurpose boat and a boarding boat. The boarding boat is powered by two 315 hp Yanmar Marine turbo diesels driving two Ultra jet propulsion units. The initial high-speed trials run by Rhino Marine have yielded a top speed in excess of 38 knots. According to Rhino Marine, the boats can be armour-plated up to NIJ level III (multiple hits from NATO 7.62mm) with negligible weight increase.
The boarding boat can carry ten combat personnel plus three crew-members, that is two gunners and one coxswain.
Rhino Marine has designed the boat family for a variety of mission profiles, such as harbour patrol, general sea boat work, boarding operations, Special Forces deployment, riverine patrol and diving support.
According to CAD, there are numerous projects within the South African Navy that require small boats – the demand could exceed 80 small boats over the next four years. Some of the projects that require these vessels include Project Biro for offshore patrol vessels (which need boarding boats) and Project Hotel for a hydrographic survey vessel (which requires survey motorboats). The Navy will also eventually replace its Namacurra class boats.
CAD will also offer the boats to other defence related customers, based both locally and internationally.
One of the things that CAD will also be demonstrating is its prototype Compact Tactical Aid (CTA) system. This is designed to provide control and situational awareness for smaller boats that have been deployed from shore bases or mother ships. The mother ship or headquarters will be able to track own forces – something that can be done with a data link like Link-ZA.
The CTA provides navigation information and also displays all information normally available on the plethora of dials, indicators and equipment front-ends equipping boat steering positions. It thus interfaces with radar, navigation units, video sensors, engines and other systems.
The CTA can be configured with additional features like image and video transfer to the mother ship or base, sensor designation and weapon management. A full, integrated recording capability for all gathered data and image/video is provided.