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Denel successfully tests modified Umkhonto missile

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The Umkhonto SAM.

OVERBERG TEST RANGE, SA (BNS): South African defence firm Denel has successfully conducted the first live firing of the modified Umkhonto surface-to-air missile (SAM) system from a ground-based launcher recently.

The test firing of the land-based SAM with extended range was carried out at the Denel Overberg Test Range on the southern tip of Africa in the presence of observers from nine countries along with officials from the South African Defence Ministry and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Denel announced on Oct 9.

The test demonstrated three war-shot missiles successfully destroying 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.

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

Denel Dynamics -- the weapons division of Denel -- has developed the Umkhonto missile system for the South African Navy.

The naval missile has been developed in Block 1 and Block 2 variants and deployed on the SA Navy's Meko A200 class frigates.

The Block 2, with a range of 15km, is also used by the Finnish Navy aboard its Hamina class corvettes and Hameenmaa class mine layers, according to Denel.

The latest test firing of the SAM from a newly-developed ground-based launcher has validated the weapon's extended range of 20km even as the physical dimensions of the missile remain unchanged, the missile's manufacturer said.

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

This was the first time an integrated air defence system developed entirely in South Africa was demonstrated, Denel said.

The company is also developing and testing a new generation air-to-air missile, the A-Darter, in partnership with Brazil.

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