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Africa aerospace and defence 2008: given its suburban Ysterplaat airbase with large hangars and proximity to the city's harbour facilities, South Africa's Cape Town is an ideal location for a tri-service defence equipment show. This year Russia and China came in force.


The new (post-1994) South Africa decided in its first round of defence equipment purchases to deal with the major European nations, arguing that these countries were most likely to benefit local industry through offset programmes, technology transfer and investment.

European companies consequently featured strongly at AAD 2008, as did Russian and Chinese marketing entities, perhaps reflecting not only broader African needs, but also pre-1994 Communist links with South Africa's freedom fighters, now in charge. The host nation has special southern hemisphere links with both India and Brazil, and the former was once again strongly represented. The latter's Embraer was also present, mainly to promote the EMB-145 with Saab Erieye AEW&C radar.


The United States is making some effort to catch up. Boeing, well established with commercial products, is trying to make inroads with its Integrated Defense Systems products, such as the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, CH-47 Chinook, the C-40 (B737-BBJ-based) transport and Scaneagle drone. Sikorsky had a small presence, as did Lockheed Martin, whose transports were represented by two SAAF C-130F Hercules and a ski-equipped National Science Foundation LC-130H, which is operated by New York Army National Guard to both polar regions.

For tax-paying South Africans, the most important items were those from the big arms deal, namely the Saab Gripen (of which four two-seaters had been delivered), the BAE Systems Hawk 120 and the Agusta Westland A109LUH and Super Lynx 300 helicopters.

Local Industry

South Africa's manufacturing industry, notably Denel, Aerosud and ATE (Advanced Technology & capability and endurance at Engineering), is contributing significantly to current programmes and to future procurements such as the Airbus Military A400M.


In the 1970s and '80s, responding to the anti-Apartheid UN arms embargo, South African industry reached world standards in long-range artillery, mine-resistant vehicles and drones. The challenge now is to retain its capabilities, despite limited defence budgets. The answer is being found in foreign investments, international partnerships and concentrating on core functions.

Denel Land Systems (DLS) is prime contractor for Project Hoefyster (Horseshoe), which will deliver 264 Badger new-generation infantry combat vehicles to the South African National Defence Force. This vehicle (see author's title picture) is based on Finland's Patria AMV (Armoured Modular Vehicle), but has improved ballistic and mine protection. It is to be built in four forms, two of which will have Denel turrets, mounting guns that were unveiled at the show.

The mortar variant of the Badger will have Denel's 60 mm Breech-Loading LongRange Mortar, a manually-loaded, water-cooled weapon that can fire all the 250 rounds carried at six rd/min. The mortar can also be used in a direct-fire mode, being depressible to five degrees below the vehicle's horizontal datum. Recoil load is a modest five tonnes; hence it can also be mounted on a light truck. Maximum range is 6000 metres.


The Section/Fire Support variant of Badger will have Denel's new GI-30 Cam Gun, an electrically powered, linear-action 30-mm cannon, firing 30 x 173 mm ammunition. Although capable of 60 rd/min, the GI-30, which is designed to meet a local army requirement, will mainly be used in a single-shot 'sniper' mode, if necessary followed by a three-round burst. It has a dual-feed system with next-round selection, the two boxes typically housing 15 rounds of APFSDS and 25 rounds of HE.

Denel is also marketing the 20 mm Neopup Paw (Personal Assault Weapon) designed by Tony Neophytou. Since this radically new concept was unveiled at AAD 2006 (Armada 6/2006, page 37), the linear magazine has been replaced by a six-round cylindrical design to raise the weapon's centre of gravity and reduce weapon profile.


The Badger sans turret will be built by BAE Systems' OMC, which now includes IST Dynamics, best known for developing the gun turret for the Denel Rooivalk attack helicopter and ATE's SuperHind upgraded Mi-24, as exported to Algeria.

OMC produces the RG series of 4 x 4 mine-resistant personnel carrier vehicles, of which over 2200 have been sold since 2004. The US military operates both the RG-31 and RG-33 in Afghanistan and Iraq. Making its debut at the show was the RG-31 Mk 6E with new anti-mine seats which give improved lumbar protection for its driver and nine-troop payload.

Another Denel product shown for the first time was Dynamics Division's Seeker 400 drone, reportedly under development to meet a foreign requirement. Compared to the well-established and much smaller Seeker II, payload capacity is increased from 40 to 100 kg, and endurance from ten to 16 hours. A notable absentee at AAD 2008 was the one-tonne Bataleur drone, still waiting for an overseas partner (such as Brazil) to share in development.


Other Dynamics programmes include the A-Darter fifth-generation short-range air-to-air missile, which is being developed jointly with Brazil's Mectron. Dynamics' recent successes include the 135-kg Umkhonto-IR, a vertically launched, infraredhoming, air-defence missile with a 12,000-metre range. Ordered by RSA and Finland for ship installations, it is now also proposed for ground use.

ATE is best known as a developer of mission systems, such as those for its SuperHind and the Hawk 120. BAE Systems has now transferred design authority for the latter system to ATE, which plans to market it as an upgrade for old Hawk Mk 50/60s. The ATE static park included examples of the Dassault Mirage III and F1, illustrating the company's various upgrades, which include beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles.

ATE is building composite rotor blades for the Mi-24 and is integrating Ukrainian and South African missiles on the Mi-24 for a European customer. ATE has recently demonstrated an armed Mi17 in a North African country, and is integrating the Denel Ingwe (Leopard) anti-armour missile on various Eurocopter aircraft.

At the previous show ATE had presented its 3.5-kg Kiwit (Plover) drone as a lightweight complement to the Vulture, the second production batch of which is now being produced for South Africa. The first export Vulture system is reportedly being delivered to China, which may build it under licence.

Encouraged by a stated South African government intention to buy several drone systems in time for the 2010 Football World Cup, ATE revealed plans for an extended family. The company sees drones as a vital element in providing real-time information to reduce the local high level of crime.

Toward the upper end of the new range, the 150-kg Sentinel 500M (shown in mock-up form) is a modernised Vulture with a twin boom arrangement and inverted-V tail. It will carry a larger payload, and endurance will be increased from three to five hours. The 200-kg Sentinel 620 will have an endurance of over 15 hours, and the 250-kg Sentinel 800 will reach 20 hours.


ATE claimed to be in the final negotiation stages with the South African Police Service (Saps) over the Kiwit, although the latter subsequently responded that it is also considering the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk and Denel Seeker, and that other designs might be added to the list. It appears that SAAF and Saps planning to have additional drones in operation by 2010 has been left somewhat late.

The Kiwit is now joined in the company's product range by the six-kg Roadrunner, which has a joined-up tandem wing and an endurance of 60 minutes. Filling the gap between this and the Sentinel series, the 40-kg Vigil SR and 80-kg Vigil EE look like scaled-down Sentinels.


Reutech Radar Systems' products include the Stealthrad (RSR 900 series) fully coherent, low-cost, lightweight, low probability of intercept (LPI), frequency-modulated, continuous wave radars. One new version on show was the RSR 940 Spider, designed to be mounted on a one-tonne pickup truck, and provides simultaneous detection of air and surface targets. The RSR 960 Seagull is the corresponding ship-mounted version, while the RSR 970 Fish Eagle is a fixed-base coastal surveillance radar.

Reutech Solutions produces the Land Rogue and Sea Rogue remotely operated gun and observation systems for armoured fighting vehicles and ships, typically mounting a 7.62 or 12.7-mm machine gun or 40-mm automatic grenade launcher.

Saab South Africa's branches include Saab Grintek Defence, of which one element is Saab Avitronics, responsible for electronic countermeasures. Its products include the Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (Camps), Saab's Idas and Cidas aids suites and Hes-21 electronic support measures.

South Africa's defence business now includes the Paramount Group, a marketing concern with development and manufacturing partners in India, Jordan, RSA, Russia, the Ukraine and North America. Already known for its Marauder and Matador mine-protected vehicles developed by KADDB in Jordan, Paramount was at Ysterplaat to launch its Maverick armoured personnel carrier for paramilitary forces.



Ysterplaat Air Base is so close to the harbour that Gripens are delivered from Sweden by ship and towed fully-assembled by road from the docks to the airfield. As part of AAD 2008, three ships were on show at the city's V&A Waterfront: the South African Navy's 3590-tonne Meko class frigate SAS Mendi (F148) and 1600-tonne Type 209 submarine SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) and Britain's Royal Navy 4100-tonne Type 42 destroyer HMS Liverpool (D-92).

South Africa needs new ships to expand its regional peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, and to help combat piracy on Africa's east and west coasts. The Navy has been writing a requirement (Project Millennium) for two LHD-style 20,000-tonne class strategic support ships, and the new government could order the first as early as 2009. It is rumoured that pre-used CH-47 transport helicopters may be obtained for these ships.

The three leading contenders for Millennium are believed to be the 27,560-tonne Navantia LHD (like the Spanish Navy's Juan Carlos I, launched in March 2008), the 21,300-tonne Armaris BPC (like the French Navy's Mistral and Tonnerre) and the 20,000-tonne ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems MHD 200 proposal. However, Italy's Fincantieri showed a model of its new 15,000-tonne LHD multifunction ship designed for humanitarian operations.

The Navy's Project Biro is for six multi-mission offshore patrol vessels, which would be built locally. Project Hotel is for a hydrographic survey vessel that can also be used as a patrol vessel.

More Drones

Lower on its wish list, the SA Navy is thought to require a high-speed target to test its ships' defences against MBDA Exocet class anti-ship missiles. Since funding for a local jet-powered target has been terminated, there are good prospects for the Dornier Do 35/45, exhibited in model form by Eads Military Air Systems.

The British Army had a stand at Ysterplaat, perhaps because there are many South Africans within that organisation, but in part to promote British defence equipment that is not necessarily in use by that service. One such item is the Cyberflight E-Swift Eye, a 2.3-kg electrically powered, hand-launched tailless drone with a 60-minute endurance. Other members of this Derbyshire-based family include the electrically powered, ten-kg Cybereye with three-hour endurance and the 900-gram Maveric. Developed in partnership with the Florida-based Prioria, the Maveric has a flexible wing, allowing it to be carried in a tube of 15-cm diameter.


Evidencing China's poor record in the drone category, the CNPMIEC stand featured only posters of its PW-1 and SH-1. A leaflet provided details of the 130-kg PW-1 and 210-kg PW-2 air vehicles, in a similar class to the IAI Pioneer or AAI Shadow 200.


However, CNPMIEC did present a remarkable collection of models illustrating a broad spectrum of air-defence, anti-ship and ground-to-ground missile systems.

In the manpads category, the FN-6 (shown fun-scale) was complemented by leaflets on the QW-2 and QW-18. The FL-2000 system provides a truck or armoured vehicle with an autonomous air-defence system by adding a turret with radar or infrared search facility and eight manpads missiles.

The TH-S311 Smarthunter Plus is another CNPMIEC mobile air-defence system, in this case using an LFMCW radar mounted on a four-wheel-drive vehicle to cue three ground-based cannon and twelve soldiers with QW-series missiles.

In a somewhat heavier category, the TD-2000B has a truck-mounted radar with a range of over 40 km, feeding target data to one or two smaller trucks, each with a turret mounting an electro-optical tracker and eight QW-series missiles. The unit can also direct six remote 57-mm guns.

The FB-6A might be regarded as a derivative of the Boeing Avenger concept, with a radar-equipped command vehicle controlling up to six launch vehicles, each carrying a manned turret with optronic system and eight FN-6 missiles.

In the context of ground-based close-in weapon systems, the Norinco LD2000 combines a command vehicle mounting a C-band search radar with up to eight combat vehicles, each with a Ku-band tracking radar, optronics and a seven-barrel 30-mm 730B Gatling firing 4200 rd/min. Ammunition capacity is one thousand rounds, and effective range is over 2.5 km.

Summarising heavier CNPMIEC sam systems based on wheeled vehicles, the LY-60D launcher fires four 220-kg missiles with a range of 18 km, while the KS-1A sends two 886-kg missiles to 50 km, and the FT-2000 (not on show) carries four vertically launched 1300-kg missiles with a range of 100 km. The Crotale-like FM-90 vehicle mounts four 15-km missiles, which are claimed to be effective against cruise and tactical air-to-ground missiles. The FN-90N is a naval version, using an eight-round turret.


CNPMIEC's current inertially-guided surface-to-surface missile systems for use against area targets are the WS-2, which fires six 1250-kg rounds to 200 km, and the A100, which fires ten 840-kg rounds to 650 km.

The addition of satellite guidance reduces the circular error probable value to less than 50 metres, and allows strikes against point targets. This has led to the P12 system, which fires two 2070-kg missiles to 150 km, and the B611M, sending two 2183-kg rounds to 260 km. The warhead weights are 450 and 480 kg respectively.

In the ship-to-ship, sea-skimming, rocket-powered category, CNPMIEC now markets the 360-kg C704, which takes a 130-kg warhead to 38 km. Turbojet power provides the 800-kg C802AR with a range of 180 km for a 190-kg warhead. The swing-wing 1140-kg C602 (which is also used in coastal defence) takes a 300-kg warhead to 280 km.


Two other interesting items on the CNPMIEC stand were the 500-kg FT-1 bomb with satellite/inertial guidance and strap-on strakes, and a poster showing the HK-JM metre-wave surveillance radar, claimed to detect stealth targets.

Russia's Rosoboron-export stand showed little that was new. The Bazalt section portrayed its impressive range of bombs and various rocket-propelled infantry weapons. The range included the 90-mm Schmel-M and 105-mm RMG assault systems, the RPG-28, and the 72/105-mm RPG-32 Hashim. This was developed jointly with a Jordanian concern, and is probably the world's first twin-calibre grenade launcher.

A comprehensive array of Mil helicopter models included the drone version of the lightweight Mi-34, and the projected high-speed MRVK and Mi-X1, each with a ducted pusher propeller at the rear.
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Title Annotation:Shows & exhibitions
Author:Braybrook, Roy
Publication:Armada International
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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