Denel targets expansion in Saudi Arabia with anti-tank systems

Charles Forrester, London – IHS Jane’s Defence Industry

29 September 2016

South African defence equipment manufacturer Denel Dynamics has reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabian firm ITAEC Group to potentially manufacture anti-tank missiles in the country.

The MoU was reportedly signed at the Africa Aerospace and Defence tradeshow, held in South Africa, on 16 September, but only reported by South African news website Defenceweb on 26 September.

Under the MoU, the Ingwe anti-tank guided missile could be marketed and potentially manufactured in Saudi Arabia. A demonstration firing of the missile, mounted on a vehicle, reportedly took place earlier in 2016.

The Ingwe is an improved variant of the South African-developed ZT3 Swift missile, originally developed in the late 1980s.

Original Post



Bilal Khan  Sep 26, 2016


Denel Dynamics and ITEAC Group, a Saudi company, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to jointly market Denel’s Ingwe anti-tank missile to the Saudi armed forces.

According to defenceWeb, the MoU was signed on 16 September at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) air show and exhibition.

By partnering with ITEAC Group, Denel Dynamics is hoping to demonstrate its enthusiasm towards Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 objective of sourcing over 50% of defence acquisitions domestically. Should a sale come to fruition, ITEAC Group will manufacture (at least partly) the Ingwe missiles in Saudi Arabia.

Notes, Comments & Analysis:

The ZT3 Ingwe was developed in the 1980s and brought into South African military service in 1987. It is a laser-guided anti-tank missile (ATGM) capable of being deployed by infantry and usable from helicopters and armoured vehicles. The Ingwe ATGM has a range of 250 metres to 5,000 metres.

If successful, an Ingwe sale would be Denel Group’s first major sale to Saudi Arabia. Like its current deals with the United Arab Emirates, an Ingwe sale would function through a commercial offset and technology transfer agreement.

This would also be the South African defence industry’s second major sale to Saudi Arabia; in April 2016, a local munitions production site at al-Kharj built with the support of Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) (which is 49% owned by Denel Group) under a $240 million U.S. sale.

Generous commercial offset clauses and flexible transfer-of-technology terms are a critical component of the South African defence industry’s drive to access lucrative overseas markets. Besides Denel Group and RDM, Paramount Group – South Africa’s largest private sector defence vendor – is also entering into very similar sorts of agreements in the Middle East and Central Asia.


Denel ZT3 Ingwe


Originally a Kentron product, the Denel ZT3 Ingwe (Afrikaans for “Leopard”) was developed by South Africa’s Project Raleigh, as a complement to the SADF’s ageing MILAN ATGM, and as a successor to that weapon for use on vehicles. It is unmistakably a BGM-71 TOW variant, despite the official claim that it was developed solely in South Africa.


   The most interesting twist is that how the technology used in its guidance system could have ended up in the hands of the South African military-industrial complex has never been clarified, but events have shown that it might have been stolen from the US. Soon after the Ingwe was first unveiled in public the US government and defense industry realized it was virtually identical to an experimental variant of the TOW that was undergoing testing in the US at the time — a variant which, at the time, was still a top secret program. How this technology ended up in South Africa is still unexplained by both US and South African authorities, though it is almost certain that espionage was involved.


The Ingwe employs semi-active laser guidance. The target is illuminated by a spot from a laser designator, which the missile actively seeks. This system has the advantages of being invulnerable to radio jamming and/or interference, none of the flight limitations imposed by wire guidance, and the ability of the launch platform to remain completely behind cover without having to expose itself (i.e., the missile may be guided by a laser designator other than the one on the launch platform, such as by troops, a helicopter, a ground vehicle, etc.). It is also possible to “ripple fire” laser-guided missiles; if several are launched in rapid succession, the second one can be directed to a second target after the impact of the first, and so on, until multiple missiles have destroyed multiple targets in rapid succession. However, the recent advent of laser detectors and dazzlers entails that laser guidance is no longer stealthy or safe from jamming.

   The effective range of the Ingwe is 5 000 m, which is considerably longer than any wire-guided TOW variant; this is likely resulted from a combination of eliminating the guidance cable, and the installation of a more powerful rocket motor (which was also made possible by eliminating the cable as well, as it limited how fast the missile could fly without damaging the guidance system). The minimum effective range is still quite long, at 250 m. The claimed flight speed is 200 m/sec, which is slightly faster than the average speed of a TOW at 187 m/sec.

   Propulsion is by a single-stage, solid fuel rocket motor. The quantity and composition of the fuel is classified, but likely contain organic chemical compounds.

   At least three warheads have been developed for the Ingwe. The original ZT3A missile had a shaped charge warhead rated to penetrate 650 mm or RHA Steel, while the improved ZT-3B has a tandem shaped charge warhead that is rated to penetrate 1 000 mm or RHA Steel, after ERA. A new type of warhead unveiled at the IDEX 2013 exposition, dubbed the MPP (Multi Purpose Penetrator) has been developed for use against light armor and material targets (unarmored vehicles, parked aircraft, structures, trucks, etc.), but the MPP has apparently not yet been adopted.


Technical Data

  • Missile mass : 28.5 kg
  • Missile diameter : 127 mm
  • Missile length : 1 750 mm
  • Penetration : up to 1 000 mm in RHA (with ERA)
  • Range : 250 m to beyond 5 000 m


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