Milkor expanding product range; targeting emerging markets
In a highly competitive market with over a 1 000 global defence companies, Milkor continues to expand its product range as it seeks to become a specialist in the fields of unmanned aerial vehicles, armoured vehicles, infantry weapons and naval vessels. It is targeting South America, the Middle East and Far East markets with its new products.
Milkor is exhibiting at some of the world’s biggest and most important global defence trade shows, including in Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Peru, Bahrain and the United Kingdom to meet specific end-user requirements in these regions.
One of its latest projects will be unveiled at IDEX in Abu Dhabi, which opens on Sunday. This is a new 8×8 fighting vehicle which Milkor says will have a powertrain that sets it apart from the competition. An ITAR-free product, it will be able to support a variety of weapons such as a 12.7 mm machinegun, 35 mm cannon and 40 mm grenade launcher. A scale model of the new 8×8 will be displayed for the first time at IDEX.
Milkor spent two years developing its 4×4 armoured vehicle, which is now ready for production. This is based on a commercial driveline, making maintenance simpler, and is somewhat unusual in that it lacks side doors, as entry and exit is through a rear ramp. A V-shaped hull provides mine protection and the Milkor 4×4 has either B6 or B7 level ballistic protection. The vehicle can take eight passengers and two people up front. Various weapons systems will be offered for the vehicle, including a remote controlled weapon station with automatic grenade launcher, or manned turrets, being completely customer dependent.
What distinguishes the Milkor 4×4 from other vehicles in a highly competitive market is that it is slightly wider than most competitors, which makes it roomier and more comfortable inside. It can be fitted with multiple weapon turrets, and is highly customisable – it can be built in command, ambulance, police and riot versions.
Expanding into the small arms domain, Milkor is developing a range of sniper rifles in response to customer requests. There will be two product lines for both civilian and military customers. The first series will be large calibre (12.7 mm) for anti-material operations while the second series will be for anti-personnel sniping and will be up to .338 calibre.
Milkor Marine is well progressed in the development of its MN Centurion patrol boat, which is conducting validation trials. This 12 metre (40 ft), long-range patrol craft is a key element of the Milkor naval system which comprises of multiple manned or unmanned patrol craft integrated with Milkor’s long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to achieve persistent surveillance patrol over large areas, together with an interception capability.
The current prototype is 12 metres long, but the design can be shrunk down to 7 metres or expanded to 30 metres. This fast patrol vessel uses hydrofoils to give a top speed approaching 100 km/h, and improved range compared to conventional vessels.
The MN Centurion provides for weapons mounted on remotely operated, stabilised turrets which can carry 40 mm automatic grenade launchers, 12.7 mm machine guns or 20 mm cannon together with radar-guided missiles. Milkor is able to integrate other weaponised solutions to satisfy end-user requirements.
The patrol craft are designed from the outset to offer low radar and thermal signature (stealth) together with ballistic protection. The ability to be operated optionally manned or unmanned has been included in the design and systems from the outset, together with integration with UAVs and central command and control stations.
Milkor Aerospace has developed three UAVs, which were launched at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in September last year. This includes the hand-launched MA18, the 12 metre wingspan MA380 and the smaller MA80. The UAVs can be fitted with a variety of mission equipment, including electro-optical/infrared sensors including Epsilon and Hensoldt Argos optronics, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and communications/signals/electronic intelligence payloads.
Milkor is now focussing on developing a small diameter guided bomb for its UAVs, with the MA380 able to carry two and the MA80 one. The weapon will be integrated onto the MA380 by the end of the year. Further UAV developments are focussing on improving engine performance for enhanced speed and range. This should make Milkor’s UAVs more attractive to defence and security customers who want either armed or unarmed aircraft.
Milkor is best known for grenade launchers, having sold some 60 000 to customers around the world. It is just concluding an order for Y4 six-shot grenade launchers for the SANDF and has several other orders it will be fulfilling. However, the company is looking to create the same reputation for its other products as it has built up over the years for its grenade launchers.