Umkhonto missile
Umkhonto is a South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n, vertical launch
Vertical Launching System
A vertical launching system is a system for holding and firing missiles on surface ships and submarines used by many navies around the world. Each VLS system consists of a number of cells, which can hold one or more missiles ready for firing...

 (VLS) surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

 (SAM) manufactured by Denel Dynamics (formerly known as Kentron) available in infrared homing
Infrared homing
Infrared homing refers to a passive missile guidance system which uses the emission from a target of electromagnetic radiation in the infrared part of the spectrum to track and follow it. Missiles which use infrared seeking are often referred to as "heat-seekers", since infrared is just below the...

 (Umkhonto-IR) and radar homing version (Umkhonto-R).

Umkhonto-IR Mk1

Designed for all-round defence against simultaneous air attacks from multiple targets, the Umkhonto-IR missile is the first vertically launched infrared-homing surface-to-air missile, also the first IR-homing missile to use lock-on-after-launch. Upon launch, the missile flies to a lock-on point, following on-board inertial navigation. The missile then activates its two-colour IR-seeker (variant of U-Darter AAM's seeker) and locks on. Target updates are received via data link, enabling the missile to counter evasive manoeuvres by the target.

The Umkhonto has a set of tail-mounted, aerodynamic control fins, as well as thrust vectoring
Thrust vectoring
Thrust vectoring, also thrust vector control or TVC, is the ability of an aircraft, rocket or other vehicle to manipulate the direction of the thrust from its engine or motor in order to control the attitude or angular velocity of the vehicle....

 vanes in the motor nozzle (similar to Denel's A-Darter AAM
A-Darter (missile)
The A-Darter is a fifth generation short range infrared homing air-to-air missile, under development by South Africa's Denel Dynamics and Brazil's Mectron. It is expected to enter service with the South African Air Force, Brazilian Air Force and be offered for export...

), allowing for 40 g
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

 manoeuvring. The system's 3-D fire-control radar
Fire-control radar
A fire-control radar is a radar which is designed specifically to provide information to a fire-control system in order to calculate a firing solution...

 enables simultaneous engagement of eight targets for the naval version. The missile uses a low-smoke propellant to avoid detection. In July 2005 it was successfully tested in various scenarios against Denel-made Skua drones.

Extended range versions (Umkhonto-ER) are in development. They will feature a rocket booster and IR or Radar seekers.

Umkhonto-IR Mk2

This variant of the IR Umkhonto was recently developed for the Finnish Navy. It has a more advanced seeker-head algorithms for differentiating between the target and background clutter often found in and around the Baltic archipelago. Because of the improvement in the seeker head, the newer version has a more efficient flight path allowing for an increase in range of 3km; a new maximum range of 15km.

Denel Dynamics has stated its intention to end production of the Mk1 and continue with Mk2 version of the missile, as a part of the missile's overall growth path.


The radar-homing version's range is extended to 25 km (15.5 mi) and has a higher operational ceiling 12000 m (39,370.1 ft). It is also 65 kg (143.3 lb) heavier and 98 cm (38.6 in) longer than the Umkhonto-IR version. Denel Dynamics is currently in negotiations with the Brazilian Navy for joint development of the missile.


  • Finnish Navy
    Finnish Navy
    The Finnish Navy is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Navy employs 2,300 people and about 4,300 conscripts are trained each year. Finnish Navy vessels are given the ship prefix "FNS" simply short for "Finnish Navy Ship"...

    : local designation ItO 2004, fitted on the Hamina class missile boat
    Hamina class missile boat
    The Hamina class missile boat is a 4-strong class of fast attack craft of the Finnish Navy. Technically they are classified as "missile fast attack craft", ohjusvene, literally "missile boat" in Finnish.-History:...

    s in 2002 and the Hämeenmaa class minelayer
    Hämeenmaa class minelayer
    The Hämeenmaa class minelayers is a two vessel strong class of minelayers, used by the Finnish Navy.The ships have a steel hull and alloy superstructure. The class has an ice operating classification of ICE-1A and can operate around the year...

    s in 2006.

  • South African Navy
    South African Navy
    The South African Navy is the navy of the Republic of South Africa.-Formation:The South African Navy can trace its official origins back to the SA Naval Service, which was established on 1 April 1922....

    : fitted on the Valour class frigate
    Valour class frigate
    The South African Valour class frigates are the major surface ships of the South African Navy. Their German manufacturer designates these warships as the MEKO A-200SAN class, member of its MEKO family of naval ships...


Potential sales

In 2004 Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 expressed an interest in acquiring the missile system for its aircraft carrier São Paulo.

The Swedish government has expressed interest in the Umkhonto-IR system for five Visby class corvette
Visby class corvette
The Visby is the latest class of corvette to be adopted by the Royal Swedish Navy after the Göteborg and the Stockholm class corvettes. The ship's design heavily emphasizes "low visibility" or stealth technology. The first ship in the class is named after Visby, the main city on the island of Gotland...

s for at total cost of about 1 bn SEK. Due to budgetary contstraints a decision was taken in 2008 to delete the SAM requirement.

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd ' is the second largest shipbuilder in the world and one of the "Big Three" shipbuilders of South Korea.On 21 February 2011, the A. P...

 of South Korea proposed this system for their corvette offer for the Bangladesh Navy
Bangladesh Navy
The Bangladesh Navy is the naval arm of the Bangladesh Armed Forces. At present the navy is mostly limited to coastal patrolling, however it is implementing an ambitious procurement and expansion program to ensure the security of Bangladesh's maritime boundary...

's Corvette tender in 2011. The offer is under consideration.

External links

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