South Africa is well on its way to entering exclusive defence industry terrain through Milkor. For nearly 40 years Milkor has been world-renowned for its grenade launchers – more than 60 000 launchers have been delivered to over 60 customers around the world. Milkor is now part of a handful of elite companies around the world producing armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The largest drone of the group – the Milkor MA380 – was designed for long-endurance missions such as search-and-rescue operations, ISR, and maritime patrol. The smaller MA80 is similar in design, with greater endurance of 24+ hours, but a maximum range of only 250km.
The hand-launched Milkor MA18, is built for tactical surveillance and is unarmed. Apart from weapons, mission equipment on the larger UAVs includes electro-optical/infrared sensors, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and communications/signals/electronic intelligence payloads. The hand-launched MA18 can be easily disassembled and carried around in a backpack. While the MA18 only weighs 3kg, it can carry small payloads of 300g. It has an endurance of around 90 minutes at a range of less than 30km and can cruise at a speed of around 50km/h.
These projects are purely South African initiatives, using the majority of locally-sourced components. Milkor sees this as helping develop the local defence industry, boosting the economy and benefiting the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The SANDF already proudly uses Milkor’s grenade launchers. Milkor has built up an international reputation with its grenade launchers, and aims to create a similarly solid reputation with the design and manufacture of armoured vehicles, UAVs, naval systems, sniper rifles and cyber security products.