Rheinmetall to Fulfil a South African Military Order for 20,000 40mm Medium Velocity Grenades

Key Terms

USGL – Under Slung Grenade Launcher

MGL – Multiple Grenade Launcher

HEDP – High Explosive Dual Purpose

HE – High Explosive

SANDF – South African National Defence Force

Last Friday saw the Rheinmetall Group’s defence division, ‘Rheinmetall Defence’ announce their intention to supply 20,000 units of 40mm ordinance for SANDF. The 40mm ordinance in question is the medium-velocity 40 x 46mm round for both USGLs and MGLs. The 20,000 unit order will be broken into HE, HEDP, practice, practice tracer, phosphorous ‘red’ and orange target marker rounds. The order has been executed to achieve one half of the South African National Defence Force’s Kamogelo project. The Kamogelo project, launched in 2016, has the objective of procuring a new handheld grenade launcher and corresponding ammunition, for the SANDF. The chief requirements for the project was that the platform would have to be accurate and quick-firing.

The programme is currently overseen by the South African government’s defence procurement agency, Armscor. The procurement plan for the project was agreed in mid-Q1 2018 and foresaw the Kamogelo endeavour as having two components. The first component was the search for and acquisition of a firing platform, the second component was the search for and acquisition of suitable ammunition. The project selected the firing platform at the beginning of Q4 2020 in the form of the Milkor SuperSix MGL, termed the ‘Y4’ by the South African military. Friday’s selection of Rheinmetall’s 40 x 46mm medium-velocity rounds completes the projects second component. The 40 x 46mm medium-velocity round is capable of moving at 100 m/s with a maximum range of 800m and an accuracy assisting low trajectory. The result being a round capable of engaging targets at far or close range, with a high hit probability.

The 40 x 46mm medium-velocity rounds to fulfil this order will be produced by Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (Pty) Ltd. Rheinmetall Denel Munitions was founded in 2008 as a joint-endeavour between Denel SOC Ltd, a South African state-owned defence firm and Rheinmetall subsidiary Rheinmetall Waffee Munition GmbH. The controlling share in the company is owned by Rheinmetall Waffee Munition at 51%, Denel SOC owns the remaining 49%. The objective of Rheinmetall Denel Munitions is the sale of large calibre munitions, to non-NATO customers in Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle-East. The company possesses four sites across South Africa at Sochem, Swartklip, Naschem and Boksburg. The companies spread the production of ammunition across these facilities. Sochem produces propellants, Boksburg produces the metal components for ammunition while the Naschem factory manufactures complete munitions for clients.

The final destination of Friday’s order will be to support the fielding of the Milkor SuperSix MGL. Milkor’s SuperSix, handheld grenade launcher, is the latest variant of 1981’s Milkor Multiple Grenade Launcher, christened by the South African military as the ‘Y2’. The common base weapon is a six shot, semi-automatic revolving handheld grenade launcher. The launcher works via swing-out reload procedure and a double action trigger. The SuperSix MGL’s, launched in 2012, has expanded capabilities, allowing the weapon can deplete its six round cylindrical magazine in less than 3 seconds. The SuperSix variant is 835mm in length and weighs 6.7kg, with a range of 800mm, providing coverage of a 20m x 60m area forward of the weapon.

The project completing procurement of the Milkor SuperSix, confirmed on the 9th of October, will be integrated into the South African military as the Y4. The platform will be delivered in a package of 370 units with 15 laser range finders to increase accuracy, 15 sets of spares to ensure long-term battlefield capabilities and 15 tools required to modify the weapons. The order, whose contract price is undisclosed, will be executed by the system’s manufacturer Milkor. Milkor, founded in the 1980s and based in Hennospark are specialists in the 40mm grenade launcher field. Rheinmetall Denel Munitions’ 40mm medium-velocity variant, will combine with the SuperSix to provide a fast and accurate weapon system. The two orders in tandem will then meet the Kamogelo Project’s requirements for a rapid firing precision battlefield solution.