This was the first live-fire tests carried out on the land-based launcher of the Umkhonto SAM, developed by Denel’s guided weapons division, Denel Dynamics.

The tests were conducted, recently, at the Denel Overberg Test Range on the southern tip of Africa. Observers from nine countries joined officials from the Ministry of Defence, Armscor and the SANDF to witness the firing.

Riaz Saloojee, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Denel says the successful testing of the recently modified Umkhonto missile demonstrated the company’s global leadership in the development and manufacturing of guided weapons. This was the first time an integrated air defence system developed entirely in South Africa was demonstrated.

“Our local defence industry can develop products that are comparable and better than what is available in the rest of the world,” says Mr Saloojee. “This contributes to the strategic capabilities of the SANDF and strengthens the high-technology proficiencies of the defence sector.”

The Umkhonto SAM system was developed by Denel Dynamics for the SA Navy’s Meko A200 class frigates, and is in service in both Block 1 and Block 2 versions. The Block 2, with a range of 15km, is also used by the Finnish Navy aboard its Hamina class corvettes and Hämeenmaa class mine layers.

The successful ground-based firing tests proved that the range of the Umkhonto has now been extended to 20km while the physical dimensions of the missile remain unchanged.

The newly-developed ground-based launcher now provides an alternative that can also be used by the SA Army’s for Phase 2 of its Ground-based Air Defence System (GBADS) – a project that is also managed by Denel.

During the demonstration three war-shot missiles successful destroyed low-cost aerial target systems (LOCATS), two at 15 km range and one at 20km. The targets were launched from the range and flew out to sea before turning inshore on an elliptical track.

They were engaged by the Umkhonto missiles in their lock-on-after-launch mode. The RSR-320 Radar system, developed by Reutech Radar Systems, provided mid-course guidance updates to get the missiles within range of their infrared seekers.

In collaboration with Brazilian partners Denel is also developing and testing a new generation air-to-air missile, the A-Darter.