South African firm Denel has been selected
to supply anti-aircraft missile systems for Swedens new Visby class "stealth
corvettes." Denels Umkhonto missiles weigh 286 pounds each, are stored in four or eight cell launchers,
and launched straight up. With a range of 12 kilometers, the Umkhonto can hit
aircraft as high as 33,000 feet. The missile uses the ships radar to get near
the target, then uses a heat seeker to home in. It will cost about $30 million
to equip each of the five Visby class ships.
With a hull made of carbon fiber material, and
topside surfaces shaped to deflect radar, the Visby is hard to spot
electronically. Armed with a 57mm gun, plus surface to surface and
anti-aircraft missiles as well as torpedoes, the 650 ton Visby is designed to
take on a wide range of opponents. The crew is small (43), but the ship can
move fast (about 70 kilometers an hour) in all kinds of weather. The Visby has
radar, sonar and thermal imaging equipment. The ships are 240 feet long, 34
feet wide and had a draught of only eight feet. The Umkhonto system is also
used on Finnish and South African warships.