State-owned defence company Denel held a successful capability demonstration from 15 to 17 August 2023 at the Alkantpan Test Range in Copperton in the Northern Cape, showcasing the fact that the company is back in business. It also confirmed that Denel is still at the forefront of global technological advancement in the field of artillery and that it has recapacitated itself to be able to meet customer expectations in pursuit of world-class product offerings.
In addition, the objective was to re-establish and grow the relationship with end users, the local defence industry and international partners, with the intent of getting closer to the niche markets.
A primary feature of the demonstration was to showcase Denel’s high-performance 52 caliber ballistic system, the 155mm Truck Mounted Gun System, the T5, and the Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVS). The 155mm T5-52 Artillery system has the latest technology with the capability to fire in excess of 60km in range with high accuracy and reliability.
Ten delegations from international countries were invited of which eight attended. They were joined at Alkantpan by the South African delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Obed Bapela. Local participants included representatives from the Department of Defence (DoD), the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC), Armscor, the CSIR, the SA Army, Defence Intelligence, as well as a few local defence industry companies.
The T5-52 is designed to be highly mobile, with increased firepower and low operating cost. The Seeker 400 UAVS operates at a direct line-of-sight (LOS) range of up to 250km with more than 10 hours over a target, providing a cruising speed of 150km/h and up to 16 hours endurance with a multiple sensor payload capability of up to 100kg.
Denel collaborated with its subsidiary company Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) which supplied their suite of world-class artillery ammunition, while the mainstay of the capability demonstration, the T5-52 155mm Artillery Howitzer was provided by the Denel Land Systems. Present at the static display was the new 105mm Self-Propelled Howitzer (Altimate), mounted on Denel Vehicle Systems’ RG41 8*8 Armoured Platform, the 105mm Light Experimental Ordnance (LEO/WEBBY) as well as the MST mounted on an RG32M mine hardened armoured patrol vehicle.
From Denel Dynamics, the Seeker 400 was on full display with demonstration flights on the first two days, by first completing the surveillance mission over the targets and confirming the grids once the firing started, is also provided the function of correction to the fall of shot through life feed of the impact area. The main attraction was, however the T5-52. Day one saw the demonstration of the stability, accuracy and consistency of the launcher system with, among others, the 35 degrees of left and right firing of the system. Day two saw the firing of the Multi Round Simultaneous Impact (MRSI) as well as a demonstration of the maximum rate of fire. The “shoot and scoot” was also demonstrated highlighting the in and out of action-reaction times.
Day three was reserved for the ultra-long-range firing where three velocity enhanced artillery projectiles (VLAP) rounds were fired at an objective area marked outside Alkantpan Test Range. The prevailing wind and other meteorological factors (with 130km/h head winds in the upper meteorological line) made for an interesting ultra-long-range firing. The first of the three shots achieved 60.4km with the second reaching 60.9km.
This was an undeniably proud moment for Denel as the ballistic test of the final shot for the day achieved an astonishing result of up to 61.29 kilometres range, the first of its kind in the world. This proved, once and for all, the superiority of the system combination between the T5-52 from Denel, and the RDM ammunition suite from the Assegai family.
The Deputy Minister shared his excitement on experiencing such a successful event as this showed that Denel is back to business and has the full support from the Government, its shareholder the Department of Public Enterprises, the Board and Management and will continue to work towards making Denel a sustainable and profitable company.
The international delegates also confirmed their excitement and expressed the view that they are always looking forward to working with Denel. Ms Fundiswa Skweyiya-Gushu, an Armscor Board member, also shared her happiness that Denel and Armscor are now moving on the right path to work towards a bright future together and push ahead with local programmes for the SANDF.
The demonstration received positive reviews from those in attendance. The event is a statement from Denel to the global market confirming its place as a global supplier of world-class aerospace, military and defence equipment. This capability demo has truly confirmed to the clients that Denel is, indeed, redefining its future.