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Valour-class frigate (MEKO A-200SAN) – South African Navy


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 type, member of its MEKO family of naval ships. They were designed and built using principles of stealthy design, including the extensive use of “X-form” structure design in which right angles and vertical surfaces are avoided, and techniques to reduce the infrared signature, such as expelling pre-cooled exhaust gasses just above the waterline. Blohm + Voss, the designers, claim that this class has the radar signature of a vessel one-half her size, 75% less infrared emissions than previous designs, as well as a 20% lower life-cycle cost, 25% lower displacement, and 30% fewer crewmen.


The MEKO ships of the South African Navy are collectively called the Valour class, and each commemorates an incident of conspicuous bravery. “The symbolism, however, is not in the battle itself, and who the victors were, but the extreme valour shown by the forces involved — both the victors and the defeated” said navy spokesman Commander Brian Stockton



Frigates are designed to be capable of conducting sustained operations at sea, and they are designed to negotiate sea conditions such as those found off the South African coast. These frigates are designed to carry up to two AgustaWestland SuperLynx 300 helicopters, which will significantly improve and extend its surveillance, operational and sea rescue capabilities. They are be capable of day or night operations in conditions up to Sea State 6

AgustaWestland SuperLynx 300 helicopters. The ship can accommodate 2 SuperLynx

Routine tasks will include:

  • Regular patrols for the protection of marine resources against poaching and pollution in the country’s Economic Exclusion Zone
  • Law enforcement at sea with respect to piracy and the smuggling of drugs, weapons and other contraband

Peace and civil support missions could include:

  • Search and rescue (SAR) missions as far south as the Prince Edward island group
  • Evacuating of civilians from coastal areas in times of emergency or crisis
  • Providing gunfire and other support for land forces, as well as the transport of limited equipment and personnel in support of land action, especially during peacekeeping missions.

Typical wartime duties could include:

  • Patrols
  • Defensive sea surveillance
  • Combat Search and Rescue
  • Special operations
  • Mine-laying and other sea-denial missions



An Umkhonto missile being fired from a Valour-class frigate

The ships of the Valour class are equipped with an assortment of multi-purpose weapons, each fulfilling a vital role in naval warfare including anti-surface, anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare. The ships’ primary anti-surface armament is its MM40 Block 2 Exocet anti-ship missile launchers which give them an anti-ship capability with a range in excess of 72 kilometres (45 mi). According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Navy is planning to upgrade these missiles to Block 3 standard, giving them an effective range of 180 kilometres (110 mi). For closer surface threats the ship can use its OTO Melara 76 mm main gun (range of 16–40 km, depending on the type of ammunition utilised). It is also equipped with a twin Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun, two Mk1 Oerlikon 20 mm cannons and two 12.7 mm Rogue remotely operated guns to engage surface targets accurately within a 4 km range.

OTO Melara 76 mm main gun


The Oto-Melara / Oto-Breda 76/62SR 76mm (3-inches) 62-caliber Super Rapid gun is a lightweight, automatic loading, rapid fire naval gun system used against shore, sea and air targets.

Manufacturer: 1963-2001 Oto-Melara / 2001- OtoBreda
Produced: Compact: 1963- / Super Rapid: 1988-

Technical data:
Caliber: 3 inches / 76,2 mm
Barrel lenght: 186 inches / 4,72 meters (= 62 caliber)
Weight: 7900kg, empty (Super Rapid)
Shell: 76 x 900 mm / 12,34 kilograms
Elevation: – 15° to + 85°
Traverse: 360°
Rate of fire: Compact: 85 rpm / Super Rapid: selectable from single shot up to 120 rpm
Muzzle Velocity: 925 m/s (1100 m/s – DART)
Magazine: Compact: 80 rounds / SR: 85 rounds
16 kilometers with standard ammunition
20 km with extended range ammunition
up to 40 km with VULCANO ammunition

OTO Melara 76 mm main gun (range of 16–40 km, depending on the type of ammunition utilised)

– Compact
– Super Rapid
– Stealth casing
– DAVIDE/STRALES radio frequency guidance system for DART guided ammunition

HE (high explosive) – 6,296kg / Range 16km / effective range 8km (4km vs. air targets at elev. 85°)
MOM (multi-role OTO munition)
PFF (pre-formed fragmentation) – anti-missile ammunition
SAPOM (semi-armored piercing OTO munition) – 6,35kg / Range 16km
SAPOMER (semi-armored piercing OTO munition, extended range) – Range 20km
DART (driven ammunition reduced time of flight) – sub-calibre guided ammunition against multiple targets
(missiles and maneuvering targets at sea) 4,2kg in barrel / 3,5kg in flight / 660mm lenght / effective range >8km
VULCANO (76mm unguided and guided extended range ammunition) – under development


Twin Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun

1 x twin Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun 35×228mm NATO gas-operated rate of fire 2 × 550rpm, effective range 4,000 metres (4,400 yd) (air target) maximum range 6,000 metres (6,600 yd) (surface target), Belt 2×240 rounds (one belt for each cannon), Targeting system Radar and/or Optronic (IR and Visible)

Mk1 Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

2 x Mk1 Oerlikon 20 mm cannons

12.7 mm Rogue remotely operated gun

2 x 12.7 mm Rogue remotely operated guns to engage surface targets accurately within a 4 km range
 photo IMG_1635_F9_400sec_zps719c797c.jpg

For anti-aircraft and missile defense purposes the frigates are equipped with a 16 to 32 cell Umkhonto-IR Block 2 VLS, which is capable of engaging aerial targets at a range of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). The frigate’s twin Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun CIWS can also destroy incoming missiles and enemy aircraft which have penetrated the ship’s outer defences, within a range of 4–6 kilometres (2.5–3.7 mi) using Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) 35×228mm NATO ammunition. The ships are also equipped with 4 324 mm (12.8 in) torpedo tubes, which can be utilised to engage submarines.

Umkhonto-IR Block 2 range 15 km to 20 km flight altitude 8 km (5.0 mi) speed Approx. Mach 2  guidance All-aspect infra-red, command update fire and forget, launch platform VLSEquipped with 4 324 mm (12.8 in) torpedo tubes for ASW

Systems and Sensors

The frigates were built to a modern stealth design to avoid enemy radar and infrared detection. In addition to these features, the Meko A-200 SAN class is distinctive with a very new propulsion system which is composed by a water-jet drive, in addition to two propellers. Its CODAG-WARP system (COmbined Diesel And Gas turbine-WAter jet and Refined Propellers) consist of a steerable propeller and a water jet. The power is provided by a combination of diesel engines and gas turbines. The propulsion plant can be operated in four modes:

  • I – Economical mode: One diesel engine driving both shafts, maximum propeller speed: 150 rpm.
  • II – Maneuvering mode: Both diesel enginess driving both shafts, maximum propeller speed: 200 rpm.
  • III. CODAG-WARP: Both diesel engines and the gas turbines turned on, maximum propeller speed: 215 rpm.
  • IV – Gas turbine only: Gas turbines powering water jet only.

These frigates are expected to spend about 80% of their at-sea time in modes I and II.

The ship’s steering gear consists of a steering unit and twin semi-balanced underhung rudders. There is an emergency steering station in the superstructure in the event of damage to the bridge and they can also be operated by hand from the steering gear compartment. To improve the ship’s performance in a seaway, they are fitted with a B+V Simplex Compact stabiliser system.

B+V Simplex Compact stabiliser system

This class of warship is conspicuous for a lack of any funnels. To add to their stealth characteristics, the exhaust fumes from the Meko A200’s gas turbines and diesel engines are cooled by spraying water into the exhaust duct and then expelled just above the ship’s waterline, making the frigate almost invisible to most infrared detectors. In 2004, the project officer Rear Admiral (J.G.) Johnny Kamerman explained that the ships’ design features incorporated stealth characteristics that gave the Valour-class very low radar, acoustic, and magnetic signatures. “It is the first major warship in the world with a horizontal exhaust and water jet propulsion, and has an X-form outer hull,” he said. Its manufacturers added that the design has the radar cross-section of a missile patrol boat, a 75% lower infrared signature than previous designs, as well as a 20% lower life-cycle cost, 25% less displacement and 30% fewer crewmen. The lack of funnels also frees up desirable room amidships for armaments, crew quarters, and store rooms.

This class’s combat-management system (CMS), which apparently accounts for about 40 percent of each warship’s cost, was purchased from the Thales Detexis company. The Tavitac system is also fitted to the French Navy’s La Fayette-class frigates, and updated versions are aboard the Saudi Arabian F3000-class air-defence frigates, and the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. Kamerman said that he was very proud of the ships’ combat system and the South African ingenuity that went into their design. “Seventy-five percent of the combat suite is home-grown. It’s the largest local-content percentage of all the defence packages. The local content makes testing and integration so much easier. The foreign stuff must be done in a tight time-frame and flying their experts here is expensive. The guys who built our radars are just 40 km away in Stellenbosch,” Kamerman said of Reutech Radar Systems, one of the contractors. Local content also speeded up repair and maintenance. “It is local support in-country, not a local capacity created artificially or a bunch of foreigners flown in.”

Reutech Radar System

Reutech Radar SystemsReutech optical radar tracker (ORT)

The vessel’s surveillance radar is the MMR-3D NG G-band multirole radar from Thales Naval France. The MRR-3D has a lightweight phased array antenna and operates as both a surveillance radar and a self-defence system sensor, with automatic mode switching.

MMR-3D NG G-band multirole radar

MMR-3D NG G-band multirole radar from Thales Naval France

In surface surveillance mode, the MRR-3D NG can detect low and medium-level targets at ranges of up to 140 km and in long-range 3D air surveillance mode targets up to 180 km. In the self-defence mode, it can detect and track any threat within a radius of 60 km.

Planned upgrades

Upgrading to the Exocet MM40 Block 3 standard. The South African Navy is planning (as of May 2013) to upgrade its anti-ship missile capability in order to strike surface targets from 180 km away

Navy_article006Exocet MM40 Block 3 launchersExocet MM40 Block 3 It has an improved range—in excess of 180 kilometres (97 nautical miles)—through the use of a turbojet engine, and includes four air intakes to provide a continuous airflow to the power plant during high-G manoeuvers.Exocet MM40 Block 3 missile


The hangar and flight-deck design enables a wide range of helicopter options to fit requirements such as: two Westland Super Lynx helicopters (for up to sea state six day and night operations); or one Westland Super Lynx helicopter plus two UAVs; or one Atlas Oryx (for up to sea state five day or night operations); or one Denel Rooivalk (for up to sea state five day or night operation).

Two Westland Super Lynx helicopters or1961999One Atlas Oryx (for up to sea state five day or night operations)or One Denel Rooivalk (for up to sea state five day or night operation)

Rooivalk Attack Helicopter: Details

General characteristics
Type: Guided missile frigate
Displacement: 3700 tons
Length: ·107.3 m (352 ft) at waterline

·121 m (397 ft) overall

Beam: 16.34 m (53.6 ft)
Draught: 5.95 m (19.5 ft)
Propulsion: ·CODAG WARP

·2 MTU 16V 1163 TB93 diesel engines, 5,920 kilowatts (7,940 hp) each, 2 shafts for cruise;

·1 General Electric LM2500, 20,000 kilowatts (27,000 hp)

·1 waterjet

Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h; 32 mph)
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Endurance: 28 days
Complement: 152 (incl aircrew)
Sensors and
processing systems:
·Surveillance Radar: Thales Naval France MRR-3D NG G-band multi-role radar

·Optical Radar Tracker: 2 Reutech RTS 6400 monopulse X-band (I/J bands) combined radar and optronics trackers

·Electro-optical Tracker: Reutech Electro-optical tracker

·Identification Friend or Foe: Tellumat Integrated Naval IFF system

·Target Designation Sights: M-Tek Target Designation Sights

·Sonar: Thales UMS4132 Kingklip sonar

·Obstacle avoidance sonar: MDS 3060

Electronic warfare
& decoys:
·ESM/ECM: Saab Grintek Avitronics SME 100/200 ESM (Intercept and Jammer) & ELINT

·Decoys: 2 Saab Grintek Avitronics MRL Super Barricade chaff launchers (96 decoys)

Armament: ·Anti-ship missiles: 8 MBDA MM 40 Exocet Block 2 surface-to-surface missiles (mounted in two four-cell launchers)

·Surface-to-Air: 16 Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles in a 16 cell Vertical launching system, can be increased to 32

·Naval Guns: 1 Otobreda 76 mm gun

·1 Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun(CIWS)

·2 Mk1 Oerlikon 20 mm cannon

·2 12.7 mm Rogue remotely operated guns

·ASW: 4 324 mm (12.8 in) torpedo tubes

Armour: Welded GL-D36 steel
Aircraft carried: SuperLynx 300, 1 Atlas Oryx, 2AgustaWestland AW109, 1 Denel Rooivalk or various UAVs (Planned)
Aviation facilities: ·Flight deck

·Enclosed hangar

Source: wiki/ the net

Updated Aug 14, 2016

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