G6-52 Rhino 155mm SELF-PROPELLED GUN-HOWITZER
Minister of Defence, Mr Mosiuoa Lekota, on 16 March 2003 unveiled South Africa's latest and most advanced artillery system, the Denel G6-52, at the IDEX 2003 defence exhibition in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). "Already recognised as a world leader in artillery, we've made a quantum leap with the G6-52," explains Mr Max Sisulu, acting chief executive of Denel. "With this system we are confirming South Africa's prime role in modern artillery technology, which goes beyond a howitzer. Such a capability includes state-of-the-art ammunition and numerous related subsystems - all important elements on the third millenium battlefield."
Although outwardly resembling South Africa's renowned 155mm G6 wheeled Self-Propelled (SP) artillery system, the G6-52 is substantially different - to such a degree that it is justifiably promoted as an entirely new system. Firing a Denel developed V-LAP rocket assisted projectile, the G6-52 has a range of almost 70 kilometres - outperforming any other or competing artillery system by a significant margin.
Addressing the media at IDEX 2003, Minister Lekota said that South Africa's defence industries operated in the international arena with a strong commitment to responsibility and maturity, under transparent, civilian-controlled export of defence equipment, and complying with international armaments conventions and agreements. "Against this background, South Africa stands proud of its achievements in the development of sophisticated defence systems, to be employed in defence of the nation's sovereignty and in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, within the context of our geopolitical obligations," said Minister Lekota. "The wider international community is increasingly taking note of defence-related technologies offered by South Africa.
Under the heading: 'See the Future', South Africa's G6-52 was making its debut inside a specially constructed marqee at IDEX 2003, displayed alongside related systems like the observation drone, the Seeker II, from Denel's Kentron division. Automated ammunition handling (any combination of projectiles and charges), with automated fuze setting, increases the rate of fire to at least eight rounds per minute. This is done by means of computer programmed ammunition carousels inside the turret, one of the features allowing for a reduced crew on the G6-52. Crew workload is further reduced with an automated ammunition inventory, which records and updates the status of the inventory as each shot is fired.
Multiple rounds (up to six) can be fired to impact simultaneously on the same target by means of the G6-52's advanced AS2000 artillery target engagement system. Automatic laying and navigation provides the G6-52 with outstanding accuracy during firing missions. Thanks to its numerous on-board computerized systems, it can come into operation (ready to fire its first round) within 45 seconds of stopping. Likewise, it can move away from a firing position within 30 seconds of completing a firing mission - critical to avoid enemy counter-fire.
Although artillery is usually deployed in batteries as described in military doctrine, the G6-52's capability is demonstrated by the fact that a single G6-52 howitzer is able to cover an area of approximately 1 720 square kilometers from a deployment position.
South Africa has always looked towards artillery to provide extended range and high mobility, the philosophy being "to establish fire superiority over the entire battle area." According to Col. D J de Villiers of the South African Army Artillery Formation, "firepower is used decisively as a primary means of combat to bring about favourable conditions for ending the conflict" and to deny the enemy sufficient opportunity to successfully interfere with own tactics.
In order to have real-time battlefield surveillance - during day or night in any weather - the new artillery system relies on the Seeker II observation drone developed by Denel's Kentron division. The Seeker II can range 250 kilometres from its base station and has a10-hour flight endurance.
The G6-52's superior range, coupled with accuracy and firing rate, sets a new standard, whilst its high mobility provides great flexibility on the battlefield.
Other than the G6, most Self-Propelled (SP) artillery systems consist of the gun turret mounted on a tracked vehicle. The G6-52 is a permanent 6x6 wheeled SP system providing much higher mobility than tracked vehicles. This feature allows it to keep pace with mounted infantry and armour units during high mobility operations over extended distances.
Off road speed is almost 70 km/h and on surfaced roads it can travel at speeds of up to 80 km/h, with a fuel range of 700 kilometres. The G6-52 has an automatic tyre inflation system and is equipped with run-flat inserts. It can withstand the detonation of a landmine under any wheel.
Alongside range and mobility, the artillery system relies on another crucial element, namely "target effect", which essentially relates to ammunition and firing rate.
The G6-52 is designed to utilise standard 155mm ammunition, but derives much of its unparalleled capability from Denel developed artillery ammunition. SA Army Col. D J de Villiers believes "South African artillery ammunition is undeniably the best in the world" - hence the serious attention from several NATO countries.
Denel manufacturing divisions, Somchem, Swartklip, Naschem and La Forge provide the artillery projectiles, base-bleed motors and modular combustible case propelling charges for the G6-52 system. The velocity-enhanced long-range artillery projectile, designated V-LAP, gives the system its vastly improved range of some 67 kilometres.
Apart from the effectiveness of the ammunition, Denel has managed to develop a "ballistic similitude" in the projectile family. This characteristic speeds up the computation of firing data and also ensures the effective engagement of targets with different payloads or combinations of payloads (essentially projectiles filled with different contents, like screening smoke or explosives).
Importantly, the G6-52 system has NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) protection, as well as standard armour protection against small and medium caliber weapons.
"Whilst immensely proud of Denel's G6-52, we are really launching a tangible example of our cutting edge artillery capability on the international market," explains Max Sisulu. "This represents technology for the future, hence the tag line: 'See the Future' - and I'm convinced this reaffirms our leading artillery position in the minds of defence clients worldwide."
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