Twenty five years after it astonished the global defence community, South Africa’s G6 self-propelled gun-howitzer still sets the standards against which all long-distance artillery are being measured.
“The G6 was ahead of its time when it was first launched in 1987,” says Stephan Burger, the CEO of Denel Land Systems. “Through our continuous research and investment in the gun we have ensured it remains ahead of the pack as the most versatile and reliable artillery system in its class.”
“We are still outgunning all our global competitors by a wide margin,” he says.
Burger says Denel Land Systems (DLS) is undoubtedly a world leader in the design, development and manufacturing of artillery. Modern armies still requires agile and flexible artillery systems to support troops involved in both high-intensity warfare and peace-keeping operations.
Artillery is used to establish fire superiority and hit high-value targets over long distances providing armies with a tactical and operational edge against enemies. The fact that it is self-propelled enables it to keep pace with mounted infantry and armour units over extended distances.
Based on the locally-developed G5 the 155mm G6 revolutionised artillery with its ability to hit targets over exceptionally long distances with an outstanding degree of accuracy.
Mounted on a wheeled chassis the G6 is self-propelled, giving it a remarkable agility and ultra-quick reaction time. Its ability to hit targets more than 65km away at a rate of fire of six rounds per minute confirmed its reputation as one of the most versatile artillery systems ever developed.
In addition to the South African National Defence Force the G6 has also been acquired by the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
Burger says Lyttelton Engineering Works – the predecessor of Denel Land Systems – initially designed the G6 to meet the need for an accurate, long-range artillery system that is highly mobile and easy to operate.
The upgraded G6-52, was first launched in 2003 and is continuously being modified to “remain at the front of the pack” in modern artillery systems. Some of the key features of the G6-52 are:
-- Mobility and speed. Traditionally artillery pieces had to be towed, thus restricting its their effective deployment in difficult terrain. The six-wheeled G6 changed the face of artillery because it is self-propelled, with the ability to reach speeds of 85km per hour on roads and 35 km per hour in off-road conditions. It can traverse terrain to a gradient of 40 degrees and cross trenches of up to one meter.
-- Range – the G6-52 increased the operational range from 50 kilometres – already considered to be remarkable – to 58 kilometres making it the premier system of its kind in the world.
-- Accuracy – The gun is fitted with an accurate inertial and GPS navigation system. A ring laser gyro based gun laying system ensures accurate gun pointing to within 1mil (0.05 of a degree). Up to five rounds can be fired to impact simultaneously on the same target by means of the G6-52's advanced AS2000 artillery target engagement system. This maximises the surprise element to achieve better effect on the target.
-- Ease of operation – the G6 is served by a crew of between 3 and 5 which includes the driver, commander, gun layer, ammunition loader and breech operator. The on-board gyro-controlled navigation system enables the gun to be brought into action within 60 seconds of stopping and it can move off within 30 seconds after firing.
-- Rate of fire – the gun can fire projectiles at a rate of six rounds per minute.
-- Full-protection – the G6 is protected against counter-battery fire and its mobility makes it an extremely difficult target to locate and hit. The armoured turret and hull provide protection against small arms fire and shell splinters while the chassis can withstand multiple landmine explosions.
-- Adaptability – the gun is capable of firing a wide range of 155mm ammunition including velocity-enhanced long-range projectiles (V-LAP).
-- The ammunition for the G6 has been developed in South Africa and is supplied by Rheinmetall Denel Munition.