Finnish Government news,

The Finnish Navy successfully launched its first Umkhonto surface-to-air missile Friday, according to a statement by the navy Monday. 

The Umkhonto missile system is manufactured by Denel Aerospace Systems, a division of the South African armaments company Denel, and is used by the South African Navy.  

According to the Finnish Navy statement, the missiles constitute an important part of the armament of Hamina-class missile boats. 


South African IR-homing SAM produced by Denel Aersopace Systems. Image copyright Denel
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According to, Umkhonto (Zulu: spear) is an South African VLS surface-to-air missile manufactured by Denel Aerospace Systems (formerly known as Kentron) that come in an infrared homing and radar homing version.

Umkhonto-IR overview
Designed for all-round defense against simultaneous air attacks from multiple targets, the Umkhonto-IR missile is the first vertically launched infrared-homing surface-to-air missile, also the first IR-homing missile to utilize lock-on-after-launch. Upon launch, the missile flies to a lock-on point, following on-board inertial navigation. Then the missile activate its two-colour IR-seeker (variant of U-Darter AAM's seeker) and lock-on.

Target updates are received via datalink, enabling the missile counter evading maneuvers by the target(s). Umkhonto has a set of tail-mounted, aerodynamic control fins, as well as thrust vectoring vanes in the motor nozzle (similar to Denel's A-Darter AAM), allowing for 40 G manouvers. The system's 3-D fire control radar enable simultaneous engagement of eight targets for the naval version. The missile use a low-smoke producing propellant to avoid detection. In July 2005 it was successfully tested in various scenarious against Denel-made Skua drones. An extended range version (Umkhonto-NG) is rumoured to be in development. It will feature a rocket booster and a RF seeker head.

The radar-homing version differ in that it has and extended range (25km, Umkhonto-IR 12 km) and higher operational altitude (12 km, Umkhonto-IR 10 km), it is also 65 kg heavier and 98 cm longer than the Umkhonto-IR version.

As of late 2005, Umkhonto-R has not attracted any buyers (was proposed to Chile in 2002). Umkhonto-IR was ordered by the Finnish Navy to arm its six Hamina class missile boats in 2002. The missile has also been selected by the South African Navy for its four Meko A-200 frigates. In 2004 Brazil expressed an interest in acquiring the missile system for its aircaft carrier Sao Paolo.

Technical Details and Specifications

Basic data
Function:  short range surface-to-air missile
Contractor:  Denel Aerospace Systems
Entered service:  Test phase (as of 2005)

General characteristics
Launch mass:  130 kg
Length:  3.32 m
Diameter:  180 mm
Wingspan:  500 mm
Speed:  800 m/s, roughly Mach 2.5
Range:  12 km
Flying altitude:  10 km
Warhead:  23 kg
Guidance:  all-aspect infra-red, command update fire and forget
Launch platform  8-cell (naval version) or 4-cell truck mounted land version