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.


Name Number Builders Laid down Launched Commissioned
SAS Amatola F145 Blohm+Voss Hamburg 02 Aug 2001 06 June 2002 25 Sep 2005
SAS Isandlwana F146 Howaldtswerke Kiel 26 Oct 2001 05 Dec 2002 19 Dec 2004
SAS Spioenkop F147 Blohm+Voss Hamburg 28 Feb 2002 02 Aug 2003 15 Mar 2004
SAS Mendi F148 Howaldtswerke Deutche Werft, Kiel 28 Jun 2002 Oct 2003 15 Jun 2004



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

– 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

Denel 35mm Dual Purpose Gun on a Valour class frigate of the South African Navy –

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)

Weight 5,500 kilograms (12,100 lb) (without ammunition)
6,500 kilograms (14,300 lb) (with ammunition)
Length 5.4 metres (210 in) (turret and barrels)
Barrel length 3.15 metres (124 in) (90 cal)
Width 2.9 metres (110 in) (turret)
Height 2.3 metres (91 in) (turret)
Crew None (but manual control is possible from the operator’s console)

Shell 35×228mm NATO
Barrels 2
Action gas-operated
Elevation -10° to +85°
Traverse 360° (unlimited)
Rate of fire 2×550rpm
Muzzle velocity 1,175 metres per second (3,850 ft/s)
Effective firing range 4,000 metres (4,400 yd) (air target)
Maximum firing range 6,000 metres (6,600 yd) (surface target)
Feed system Belt 2×240 rounds (one belt for each cannon)
Sights 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  –  A Reutech Sea Rogue remote weapon system fitted with a 12.7 mm machine gun, mounted on a South African Navy Valour class frigate 5 October 2012, 14:21:00  – Brent Best:

The Sea Rogue is a remotely controlled stabilised weapon platform ideally suited to naval applications such as stabilised primary weapons on a patrol boat and countermeasures against asymmetric threats on larger vessels. The Sea Rogue is controlled with a hand-controller and a video sight from the safety of the bridge or the ops room. In addition to the 7,62mm, 12,7mm and 20mm machine guns, the Sea Rogue can be fitted with a 40mm grenade launcher. Source

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

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 optical radar tracker (ORT)

The RTS 6400 is a 60 km instrumented-range monopulse X-band combined radar and optronics tracking system using a wide-band, high stability Travelling Wave Tube AmplIfier (TWTA) and advanced Doppler signal processing.

The system currently forms a key element of the South African Navy Valour-Class Frigates Combat Suite, for which 9 systems have been delivered into service.

The system has been produced using expertise gained in the development of the ETS 2400 short range Ka-band optronics radar tracker.

The modular nature of the design allows adaptation for alternative configurations of optronic sensor. This capability makes the system eminently suited for most naval fire control applications. Typical sensor configurations include dual field of view 3-5 µm or 8-12 µm Thermal Imaging Sensors, high repetition rate Laser Range-Finders and dual field of view daylight cameras. The system may also be supplied with or without a dedicated console.

The system is able to perform in hostile ECM environments due to a comprehensive ECCM suite. Source

M-Tek Target Designation Sights


M-TEK have developed and produced various manually driven Target Designating Sights (TDS’s), for amongst other uses, ship borne observation and artillery and mortar fire control. Payloads consists of binoculars, thermal imagers, laser range finders, search lights, etc. The TDS designs incorporates absolute feedback resolvers, electro-mechanical brakes, inclinometers, latches, slip rings, etc. Angles and status are reported via serial link. Source

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


MRR-3D NG is the latest version of the MRR-3D radar. MRR-3D NG is a G-band multi-role radar designed for 180 km surveillance and self-defence.The radar performs 3D air and 2D surface target detection and tracking, is highly accurate and has short reaction times.

The MRR-3D NG also performs automatic helicopter detection and classification, including pop-up and stationary helicopter over ground, and helicopter short-range control.

The antenna is electronically scanned in elevation and performs 3D accurate tracking to provide target designation (bearing, elevation, range, speed) up to 70°. For rapid deployment of self-defence weapons, the radar delivers tracks with a short reaction time. Then, a dedicated multi-beam pattern is used to provide accurate target designation to the ship or to an active missile system, minimizing target acquisition time for anti-air weapon systems.

For anti-surface warfare, the MRR-3D NG performs splash spotting measurement to support gun firing control. Source

Thales UMS4132 Kingklip sonar



High quality sonar with concurrent all-round anti-submarine warfare surveillance and self-protection to carry out escort, harassment and prosecution in littoral waters.

  • High performance in littoral environment
    Excellent performance against submarines particularly in harsh conditions such as littoral waters.
  • Self-protection against multiple threats
    ASW capability with simultaneous early torpedo warning.
    Complementary underwater obstacle / Mine-like avoidance capability.
  • Robust and easy to integrate
    Few installation units / Light maintenance and support
  • Cooperative asset
    Accurate target positioning to prosecute and engage distant submarines with airborne assets.
    Capable of multi-static operation with most current low frequency sonars in operation world-wide.
  • Reduced operator workload
    User-friendly, integrated Human Computer Interface.
    Same look & feel as CAPTAS VDS for high interoperability.
  • Mammals safe
    Adjustable source level and noise monitoring for sea mammal protection.
  • Low Life Cycle Cost
    Large installed base and continuous evolutions for inherent customer’s long term support.



KINGKLIP is particularly efficient to detect submarines in rough sea states and coastal/littoral waters, where difficult reverberation conditions prevail.
It complements a CAPTAS Variable Depth Sonar to provide good coverage above & below the thermal layer.


System features:

  • Designed for medium size Surface Combatant
  • Cylindrical array installed inside an acoustically transparent dome (keel mounted)
  • ASW all-round surveillance
  • Several transmit configurations allowing operation with two ships in the same area
  • Integrated On-Board-Training capability
  • Embedded bathythermograph & performance prediction function for sonar optimisation

• Comprehensive Built-in Test capability


Array (Weight/Height/Diameter): (1.4t / 0.7m / 1.2m)
Active frequency range: 5250 to 8000 Hz
Pulse types: Hyperbolic FM, CW and COMBO
Pulse length: 60 ms to 4 s
Range scale: 1 to 72 kYds
Active modes:
– ASW: all-round surveillance
– Obstacle Avoidance: ± 90° off the ship’s bow
FM bandwidth: Wide bandwidth (2 kHz) against reverberation effect
Passive frequency range: 1000 to 8000 Hz.
Passive functions: All around broadband surveillance, LOFAR, DEMON & audio channels


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 MM40 Block 3 missile, complete with a Microturbo TRI 40 turbojet engine, began development 2004 and was first tested from a ship in 2010. Improvements to the MM40 Block 3 include internal navigation and GPS upgrades. These updates, combined with a frequency modulated continuous wave radar altimeter, allows for control of the missile’s altitude over various types of terrain. This missile is armed with a 160 kg high explosive/semi-armour piercing warhead and an active radar terminal seeker 9 Additional upgrades include increased evasive capabilities such as the ability to make a 180 degree turn post-launch, allowing the MM40 to evade defense missile systems. These upgraded missiles will be both ship- and ground-launched and will be deployed first onto Forbin (Horizon)-class destroyers and then to La Fayette-class frigates.

Originated From: France
Possessed By: Numerous (see table below)
Class: Anti-ship Cruise Missile
Basing: Sea/Air/Ground/Submarine
Length: 4.69- 5.95 m
Diameter: 350 mm
Launch Weight: 655-870 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: 165 kg HE fragmentation or semi-armor piercing
Propulsion: Solid fueled (MM40 Block 3 uses a Microturbo TRI 40 turbojet)
Range: 40-180 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 1975

Variant MM40 MM40 Block 2 MM40 Block 3
Basing Ship-, Ground-launched Ship-, Ground-launched Ship-, Ground-launched
Range 70 km 70 km 180 km
Warhead 165 kg HE frag. 165 kg HE frag. 160 kg HE frag.
Status Operational Operational Operational
Users Argentina, Bahrain, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Ivory Coast, South Korea, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay Brazil, Greece,    Indonesia, Malaysia,  Morocco,   South Africa Greece, Indonesia,   Morocco, UAE, Vietnam



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).

Westland Super Lynx

Two Westland Super Lynx helicopters or

Atlas Oryx

1961999One Atlas Oryx (for up to sea state five day or night operations) \

Denel Rooivalk

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 Feb 14, 2018


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