Jan 22, 2010
Brazil still pondering second joint missile project with SABack
Engineering|Expertise|Africa|Defence|Denel|Denel Dynamics|Industrial|PROJECT|Africa|Brazil|South Africa|Industrial|Product|Service|Radar-homing Technology
© 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 Defence News
South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that it is partnering with local company Space Commercial Services Holdings Aerospace (SCSH) group to develop a maritime wide-area synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for use by small...
Defence industrial cooperation between South Africa and Brazil was highlighted at the recent III Brazil Defence Industrial Base Show (III Mostra BID-Brasil, as it is known in Portuguese), held in Brazil’s capital city, Brasília. The Brazilian Ministry of Defence (MD)...
South African private-sector defence group Paramount recently announced a series of major initiatives to strengthen its position in the local aerospace, defence and maritime sectors. Group Executive Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz told a media briefing that the enterprise...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The South African new vehicle market is likely to reach around 630 000 units in 2014, down from the 650 000 units recorded in 2013, says Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) president and CEO Dr Johan van Zyl. Van Zyl is also president of the National Association of...
Efforts by the Kenya government to increase energy generation by 5 000 MW over the next three years received a major boost following the award of a $2-billion contract to build a coal power plant in Lamu. Despite allegations of irregular tendering process, the...
Using crafty wordplay on a well-known Internet meme, brilliant South African-born US entrepreneur and businessperson Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors would not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wanted to use its technology. Instead,...
August new vehicle sales declined by 1.4%, to 55 722 units, compared with the same month last year. Assisted by the car rental market, the South African new passenger car market, at 37 953 units, contracted by 1 047 units, or 2.7%, compared with August last year.
With South Africans facing the challenge of reducing electricity consumption, the biennial Eskom Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition, to encourage the integration of energy efficient lighting in architectural, engineering and interior design, received a...