Source: Creamer Media Aerospace and Defence
The contracted hardware delivery requirements for the South African Army’s (SA Army’s) new ground-based air defence system (Gbads) have been completed. This was announced on Thursday by the State-owned defence industrial group Denel.
“The SA Army will now take the equipment on inventory and initiate the commissioning phase of the programme,” reported Denel Integrated Systems Solutions (DISS) CEO Ralph Mills. “This will take the system to operational readiness with support from Denel.”
DISS is the specialist division of the Denel Group created specifically to support the SA Army in Project Guardian, as the acquisition of the Gbads is officially designated. The project was executed by an integrated team from DISS, the Department of Defence and defence acquisition and research and development agency Armscor.
“The successful finalisation of this phase of the programme had positioned DISS well for subsequent stages and the company is now in a position to expand into other domains,” stated Denel Group CEO Riaz Saloojee. Mills affirmed that he was “extremely proud of the team” and thanked them for their hard work.
“System integration skills have been identified as a key strategic capability for our counrty and in DISS we now have the basis to build on these crucial skills,” he highlighted. “System engineering as a discipline can contribute to many areas of our society and it is critical that we start developing the human capital now to be ready for the programmes of the future.” One of the DISS’ programmes is concerned with the training, development and mentoring of young systems engineers.
The delivery of the hardware followed an extensive testing and evaluation process last year. This took place at the South African Air Force’s Swartkop airfield, just south of Pretoria, Gauteng (Swartkop is subordinated to Air Force Base Waterkloof), and at the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatla in the Northern Cape.
Troops from the SA Army Air Defence Artillery (ADA) Formation were involved in this process. The SA Army ADA will be the operator of the system.
Project Guardian is built around the Thales UK Starstreak high velocity missile, designed and built in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This uses laser beam guidance, has a maximum speed in excess of three times the speed of sound and, in its latest, mark two version, has a range of more than 7 km.
By Keith Campbell