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Surface-to-air Missile System

Umkhonto (Spear) Missile is an indigenous product, designed, development and manufactured in South Africa. The design of Umkhonto was inspired by the Zulu military commander King Shaka who introduced to his warriors amongst other things, the short Spear, the cow horn formation and the element of surprise. Similarly the Umkhonto missile design includes Stealth (passive IR seeker and low smoke rocket motor) and flexibility (multi target engagement and ability to launch from any position).
The Umkhonto vertical launch Surface to Air Missile (SAM) was developed for the SA Navys Meko A200 class frigates, and has been in service since 2001. Other Navies have also acquired the Umkhonto system, this include amongst others the Finnish Navy. The missile is high-velocity and infrared homing, providing all-round defence against simultaneous attacks from missiles and aircrafts. Although, this is a surface to air missile, it is also capable of taking out stationery surface targets. The Umkhonto was designed with a 23 kg warhead for High-kill probability, unlike other SAM missile systems in its class.

System Features

  • Multiple-target engagement (up to four targets)
  • Ease of integration
  • High kill probability (23 kg warhead)
  • Countermeasure resistance
  • Absence of line-of-sight limitations
  • Ease of maintenance (high BIT coverage)
  • All-round (360 degree) coverage (with vertical launch)

System Operation

  • Target is acquired and tracked by 3-D target acquisition radar
  • Missile is launched and flies to a lock-on point, using an on-board inertial navigation subsystem
  • IR seeker locks on and missile intercepts target under seeker control
  • Continuous updating of target course from surface radar during missile flight, via a telecommand link, to enable engagement of manoeuvring targets.

System Specifications

Physical Characteristics

  • Missile length : 3 320 mm
  • Missile diameter : 180 mm
  • Wingspan : 500 mm
  • Launch mass : 135 kg
  • Canister length : 3 800 mm
  • Canister maximum: 650 mm diameter

Performance Characteristics

  • Range : 20 000 m
  • Ceiling : 8 000 m
  • Maximum Mach No. : 2
  • Time of flight to 8 km:18 s
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