Milkor Littoral Patrol & MPA MN CENTURION & MA380 + UK in South Africa
At AAD 2018 in Pretoria this week, Milkor has been focusing its marketing efforts on the MN CENTURION fast patrol craft and the MA380 unmanned aerial system (UAS), both of which address growing maritime security challenges.
Many nations have a pressing need for maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and a means to patrol their littoral waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZ). Poorer nations – especially in Africa – face challenges from illicit traffickers, terrorists, pirates and illegal fishing vessels from as far away as China invading their territorial waters. They – and their wealthier neighbours – require the means to detect, monitor, track and intercept those criminal or subversive threatening their well-being. Milkor, having established a reputation with its revolver style, hand-held, multiple grenade launcher, is branching out into other areas, including small patrol boats, UAS and even a protected fighting vehicle.
Intriguingly, the MN CENTURION multi-purpose small patrol boat was designed by aeronautical engineers. It is the first hydrofoil-assisted catamaran of this type – meaning that when it is in operation (at in excess of 50kt), 80% of the vessel sits above the water – which is a major factor in reducing fuel consumption by half. As rugged as it is fast, the CENTURION is able to conduct High Speed Boat Operations (HSBO) in rough seas – up to sea state 3.
The crew is suspended in a modular command module (which can be swapped out in under a day), with shock-mitigating seats, which means it saves money as well as ‘wear and tear’ on the crew. The command module also acts as crew quarters, providing air conditioning and filtration (for chemical and biological protection, for example) as well as ballistic protection, which is also available for the entire vessel. CENTURION has a low-radar cross section and is clad in radar-absorbing materials, giving it a notable degree of low observability – and can be operated in manned or unmanned mode at any point in a mission.
It has an average range of 1,700nm, (700 when engaged in HSBO) and an endurance of around 14 days. According to Mikor, the MN CENTURION fills a gap in the market for countries of Latin America and South East Asia as well as Africa, noting that South Africa has 400,000km2 of EEZ to patrol and secure.
Complementing the role of the MN CENTURION is the MA 380, a medium-sized UAS that offers a robust, cost-effective and affordable MPA solution. The airframe can be remotely piloted from shore, relaying data and images back to command via the MN CENTURION, allowing it to share situational awareness. The MA 380 has a synthetic aperture radar, an ARGOS optical pod (one of the largest on the market) and can carry any customer-specific bespoke payload. It has a range of 2,000km, a minimum of 20hrs continuous flight time, and requires only 400m of runway for take-off and landing. Like the MN CENTURION, it is a cost-effective MPA platform for countries with porous borders and a vulnerable EEZ.
Networked together, it is possible for the two platforms to detect, identify and shadow ships for up to 10 days, ideal for tracking and intercepting the great number of Chinese fishing vessels operating illegally in protected waters, using false transponder codes and fishing practices destructive to the environment.
This solution is also very effective in asymmetric or swarm warfare; the MN CENTURION has a stabilised Reutech ROGUE 40mm automatic grenade launcher and can be fitted with almost any other access denial or defensive weapon suite required by a customer.
British Companies Actively Seeking Regional Market Growth
For British companies, AAD 2018 could not be better timed. Recently, Prime Minister Theresa May toured key market countries in Africa, expressing the strong desire for trade and industrial partnerships across Africa – especiallywith South Africa. Companies exhibiting on the UK Pavilion at Waterkloof air base this week include:
Pearson Engineering: a leader in mine clearance solutions, the company already enjoys a strong presence in Africa, with existing business in Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Malawi and now trialing solutions in Algeria. Working closely with non-governmental organisations as well as military authorities, Pearson is well-positioned to become stronger in this regional market;
Inmarsat: the satellite communications provider has two separate satellite constellations serving the African continent, covering and supporting air, land and sea operations with seamless coverage for nations using L- and Ka-band for communications requirements from PTT networks to satellite phones or command and control systems in any weather, anytime, anywhere. It thus provides resilient, redundant communications with no perceptible latency. Smart Cities and the Internet of Things are likely among their future priorities for Africa;
Chemring Energetics: a developer and manufacturer of explosive primers and components for aerospace and defence applications – from Metron Activators, that safely deploy oxygen masks on airliners to missile primers and armoured vehicle fire suppression systems;
Fujitsu: with 14,000 employees and revenues of £2.5 billion in the UK alone, Fujitsu provides a host of IT-based solutions to global markets. These range from logistics management to cyber security for national military authorities, including the USA, UK, European Union, Asia, Latin America and – of course – Africa. Through partnerships in all of its operating and sales countries, Fujitsu – in South Africa in particular – is able to benefit from local skilled talent here for deploying systems integration solutions.