Jan 22, 2010
Brazil still pondering second joint missile project with SABack
© Reuse this
The Umkhonto – the name translates into English as Spear – is a product of Denel Dynamics, and is in service with the South African Navy and the Finnish Navy. Denel Dynamics is a subsidiary of the State-owned Denel defence industrial group.
The Umkhonto is an infrared (IR) homing missile, and the Denel Dynamics public brochure for it states "Range: 12 000 m", and gives a ceiling of 8 000 m. This first version of the SAM is sometimes referred to as the Umkhonto-IR.
The Brazilian Navy is known to be seeking a SAM with a range of more than 30 km but less than 50 km. (Truly long-range SAMs have a range greater than 50 km - for example, the American RIM-67C Standard SM-2 has a reported range of 40 nautical miles, or some 76 km, while the RIM-67B Standard SM-2 ER version can reach 75 nautical miles, or about 142 km).
There is a project to develop a version of the Umkhonto-IR with greater range, referred to as the Umkhonto-ER, with the suffix letters standing for extended range. This would also be an IR-homing weapon. And there is also a longer-term project to develop a yet longer-ranged version, designated the Umkhonto-R, which will be a radar-homing SAM (beyond a certain range, IR-homing becomes impractical for SAMs). This will require the development of a radar seeker head, which means that the Umkhonto-R will require a significant development process.
The engagement sequence for the Umkhonto-R would most likely be as follows: after target detection and missile launch, the SAM would be steered towards the target by commands from the warship, activating its radar seeker when within range, locking on to, and then intercepting, the target.
In contrast, the engagement sequence for the Umkhonto-IR is (and for the Umkhonto-ER would be): the warship detects a target on its acquisition radar and launches the missile against it; the SAM uses its on-board inertial navigation subsystem to fly itself to a "lock-on point" - the location at which its IR seeker can acquire the target and lock on to it - and then guide itself to interception.
No ranges have been given for the Umkhonto-ER, while various ranges have been suggested by various sources for the Umkhonto-R: 20 km, 25 km and 30 km. It will have to be a bigger weapon than the Umkhonto-IR in order to achieve any of these ranges.
It is believed that the South African Department of Defence is providing funding for the Umkhonto-R project, but not enough to allow a purely national development of the programme within a reasonable time. So Denel is apparently seeking for overseas partners to join the programme and, back in 2008, Engineering News reported that the group had proposed to the Brazilian Navy that it cooperate with in the development of the Umkhonto-R. This would follow the precedent set by the current cooperation between Denel Dynamics and the Brazilian Air Force in the development of the A-Darter air-to-air missile.
Late last year a Brazilian Admiral visited Denel Dynamics for discussions about the Umkhonto programme. Brazil has a programme to acquire large frigates, each of which would displace about 6 000 t (South Africa's new Valour-class frigates each displace about 3 600 t), which would be armed with the longer-ranged SAMs the Brazilian Navy desires.
However, there is apparently a problem regarding timescales. The Brazilian Navy hopes to order its new frigates later this year or (more likely) next year or (at the latest) in 2012. This would mean that they would be commissioned into service by 2017 at the latest. However, it seems that Denel Dynamics told the Brazilian Admiral that it would take ten years to jointly develop the Umkhonto-R, giving the long-range SAM an in-service date of 2020.
That leaves the question of whether or not the IR-homing Umkhonto-ER could be made to reach the range the Brazilians desire. Although it might need to be fitted with a second stage to do this, it would not need the development of a new seeker head, and so its development period should be considerably shorter than that for the Umkhonto-R. This would also open the possibility of Brazil adopting the Umkhonto-ER as a first step and then later switching to a jointly-developed Umkhonto-R.
Brazilian Navy needs longer-ranged SAMs for planned large frigates
New versions of SA's Umkhonto SAM under consideration
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Updated 1 hour 11 minutes ago With Africa holding 60% of the world’s arable land, agriculture held one of the keys to unlocking economic opportunities for the continent, but could only be achieved through cooperation with other countries in regions such as Asia. Speaking at the Asia–Africa...
Updated 1 hour 48 minutes ago Business process outsourcing (BPO) industry association Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA) has appointed Tebogo Molapisane as its new CEO, following the relaunch of the national organisation. Molapisane has been involved in the contact centre industry for...
Updated 1 hour 55 minutes ago JSE-listed Consolidated Infrastructure Group (CIG) on Tuesday reported a 26% year-on-year increase in revenue to R1.7-billion for the six months ended February 28, while its aftertax profit grew by 36% year-on-year to R164-million. The higher profit was driven...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
Today’s organisations execute projects within increasingly complex environments – particularly in the engineering sector. The ability to successfully execute these projects is what drives the realisation of successful projects and, ultimately, the achievement of...
South Africa’s distribution grid is a twentieth-century relic, which must be changed to serve the country’s modern electricity needs, says South African National Energy Development Institute (Sanedi) Smart Grid Programme manager Dr Minnesh Bipath. “What we are...
There is a disparity in government funding provided to integrated transport networks – bus rapid transit (BRT) networks ¬¬– and that given to conventional bus services, says Putco executive director Thys Heyns. “We have neglected and strangled conventional bus...
The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) is building 502 rental housing units, valued at R200-million, in Dobsonville, Soweto, which are scheduled for completion in June 2016.
Automotive component manufacturer and distributor Metair is centralising its research and development (R&D) work in Turkey, in an attempt to bolster the company’s ability to produce affordable start/stop batteries. The new R&D centre is part of an expansion plan in...