October 26, 2011 defpro.com
Denel has developed a range of products and services to combat the scourge of piracy along the African coastline.
The South African Cabinet, in April, approved a comprehensive strategy to address piracy in SADC waters and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on piracy and trans-border crime with her Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyussi.
South Africa is hosting a Maritime & Coastal Security Africa summit this month. Making the announcement Ms Sisulu said, “SADC will have to take responsibility for its own maritime security in cooperation with other regions, task forces, navies and role players."
The immediate focus is to counter the scourge of piracy expanding southward into the Mozambique Channel and threatening the maritime trade on which Southern Africa depends for future prosperity.
According to the Group CEO of Denel, Talib Sadik, Denel is well-positioned to support the South African National Defence Force, other regional forces and agencies that must implement the new maritime strategy.
As in most military and paramilitary operations, the effort to stop piracy in Southern African waters will depend on the classic ‘find, fix and finish’ formula, except that in this instance the ‘finish’ will be arrest, not destruction. The companies of the Denel group have equipment and technologies suited to the requirements of all three elements.
Find. ‘Finding’ the pirates before they can launch their attacks will require a fully integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance cycle: Intelligence to build an initial picture of the situation; surveillance to develop and update that picture; and focused reconnaissance to add detail and follow up leads to further refine that picture.
The key elements required to perform this function will include shore-based radars, maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVS); patrol vessels of several types, with embarked helicopters or UAVS; shore-based fixed and mobile sensors, including radar and optronic sensors, and electronic intelligence gathering systems to monitor radar emissions and communications signals.
The Denel Dynamics Seeker 400 with its 16-hour endurance is well-suited to being forward deployed to provide surveillance of coastal areas and suspected pirate bases as far as 250 km from its base. A Seeker 400 could also:
• Be launched from a shore base and controlled from a patrol vessel 250 km out at sea to give it a 250 km search and identification capability, allowing it to launch its embarked helicopter only when positive action is required.
• Be positioned on the basis of intelligence or other data from other sensors to pick up pirate craft as they set out from a suspect village and, exploiting its endurance, altitude and day/ night sensors, track them, unnoticed, to where they might attempt an attack.
• Be used to direct fast interceptor boats to suspect craft hiding among fishing vessels at night, or Special Forces teams to where pirates have gone to ground on shore, in each case using its night cameras to provide the current picture to the surface forces and its laser illuminator to identify the target for them.
Looking forward, the planned medium-altitude/long-endurance Bateleur UAV would be able to use radar and optronic sensors to conduct broad area maritime surveillance, freeing up the crewed aircraft to investigate specific suspect vessels. Dynamics also has the experience to support other UAV systems that might be acquired for specific roles, for instance rotary-wing shipboard UAVS.
Carl Zeiss Optronics (CZO), in which Denel holds a 30% stake, is for its part well placed to provide the optical and optronic payloads for UAVS, for crewed aircraft and for patrol vessels. It can provide optronic sensor turrets for aircraft and UAVS, shipboard optical and optronic sensors and trackers and lightweight equipment for interceptor craft and ground teams. The Navy’s submarines, which can play an immensely valuable surveillance role, also use periscopes that are manufactured by (CZO).
Fix. ‘Fixing’ suspected pirates will be more difficult than ‘fixing’ enemy forces in war, as the option of firing at them until they cannot move will not often be an option. But pirate craft can be ‘fixed’ in a sense by an aircraft remaining on station, tracking them, monitoring and recording their actions – for instance throwing weapons overboard, until a patrol vessel can arrive and deploy a boarding party by boat or helicopter. This task could be performed by any surveillance or patrol aircraft, but would be more efficiently performed by a UAV, freeing up the crewed aircraft for other tasks.
A key element will be a day/night sensor with recording of the image and of position/date/ time data for evidentiary purposes. The Seeker’s sensor system will do that, as will the sensor systems that Carl Zeiss Optronics can supply for handheld use, aircraft and surface vessels.
In some cases ‘fixing’ might require actual engagement to prevent an attack or escape. That is a situation better suited to a manned aircraft or helicopter with a stabilised cannon armament or suitable light guided missiles.
The advantage of a cannon, for instance the lightweight and low-recoil 20 mm GA1 produced by Denel Land Systems, is that it allows warning shots to be fired first, and discrete aimed fire to disable a pirate craft if the warning is not heeded. A light missile, such as Dynamics’ Impi, could be fired by an aircraft, helicopter or UAV to hit the engine room or bridge of a larger vessel to stop it. A missile could, in fact, be essential in situations where a pirate vessel has a heavy machinegun or shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missile, forcing the aircraft to stay at a safe distance. Both of those weapons are known to be in the hands of some pirate groups.
A shipboard helicopter could also be armed with a long-range anti-materiel rifle, such as the 20 mm NTW of Denel Land Systems, with which to place carefully aimed fire into a pirate craft, as is done by the US Coast Guard to stop fast boats carrying cocaine. That rifle could be given a stabilised mounting for greater accuracy.
A new addition to Denel’s range of products, is the NEOPUP Personal Area Weapon with its 20 mm x 42 ammunition developed by Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP). It is a 6,8 kg shoulder-fired weapon, and enhances mobility of soldiers on deck to easily move to the best places to counter pirate attacks.
It is accurate up to 500 metres for vehicle-sized targets (typically pirate boats), and up to a 1 000 metres as an area weapon. It is easy to use and quick reloadable. The rounds have a flat trajectory and time of flight at a typical distance of 300 metres, is only 1,025 seconds.
The NEOPUP is a logical weapon for boarding crew, and is perhaps one of the most significant recent developments that can strengthen the fight against piracy.
Finish. The ‘finish’ function will mostly involve boarding a pirate craft or one that has been captured by pirates, overwhelming the pirates and then arresting them. It may also, however, in future require raids against pirate groups in their hideouts ashore. It is important to bear in mind that some of the pirate groups are very well armed indeed.
Stabilised day/night observation systems and weapons sights, both with recording capability for evidentiary purposes, will be critical during this phase. Stabilised cannon and long-range anti-materiel rifles, on damped or stabilised mountings, will be the key weapons elements of patrol vessels, enabling them to deliver warning shots or precision fire to stop a pirate craft, and to provide covering fire for boarding parties when that is needed.
The Denel Land Systems cam-operated 30 mm CamGun suggests itself as secondary weapon on large patrol vessels and as main weapon for smaller types, providing the range and punch that a 20 mm cannot. There will also be a need for lighter weapons for interceptor boats and boarding parties, such as Denel’s 20 mm GA1 cannon, 40 mm automatic grenade launcher, SS77 light machinegun and PMP’s 20 mm x 42 personal area weapon (PAW).
Denel’s breech-loading 60 mm long-range mortar could be extremely useful on craft intended to operate inshore, among islands or into river mouths, where pirates would be able to engage from behind cover on the shore. Such craft might also be fitted with a self-protection system to guard against weapons such as RPG7s that could cause serious casualties aboard and even sink a small craft. The LEDS self-protection system developed by Saab, Reutech and Denel Dynamics (the smart munition to intercept and destroy the incoming round) suggests itself for this application.
Having boarded a ship, it will still be necessary to ensure that it is safe and that all munitions, other dangerous items and possibly narcotics have been located and seized. Denel’s Mechem division is ideally placed to develop and provide those capabilities, drawing on its immense experience of dealing with unexploded ordnance, mines and other explosive devices, and in providing detection services for agencies involved in countering the narcotics trade.
Denel Dynamics, Denel Land Systems, PMP and Mechem have equipment and weapons well suited to the requirements of maritime security operations, and the associated Carl Zeiss Optronics can provide the optical and optronic sensors. All three also have related technologies that can be used to develop mission-specific equipment and systems. Denel’s PMP and Rheinmetall Denel Munitions can provide specialised munitions and pyrotechnics that might be required, and Denel Aviation could integrate the surveillance equipment onto patrol aircraft and provide the required through life support.
But there is still the need to draw together all of the information that the various sensors will provide, and to ensure that the various systems – supplied by Denel and other South African and foreign companies – can actually be integrated to work with each other efficiently. That is a function that will also involve sensitive intelligence data and systems and therefore needs to be handled at a sovereign level. Denel Integrated Systems Solutions is focused on just that work and is well placed to take on this critical task.