SA manufactures own periscopes

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pretoria - South Africa is steadily becoming a leader in the world of technology, with the recently locally-designed periscope set for use in submarines.

A new generation periscope for conventional attack submarines is now being developed and manufactured at Carl Zeiss Optronics in Centurion.

The 12-meter tall periscope is being manufactured in a specifically-designed building, which was officially opened today by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Robert Higgs.

The new periscope is designed to offer a price competitive solution for clients who require vital upgrades to their existing fleet of submarines. 

The fully-assembled periscope weighs more than 850 kilograms and has a superb direct view optical channel. In addition, the periscope is fitted with an advance gyro stabilising system that enables it to perform optimally in the roughest possible sea conditions.

More than 70 different components of lenses, mirrors and prisms are used in a periscope optical channel.

Speaking at the unveiling of the periscope, Carl Zeiss Optronics CEO Kobus Viljoen said South Africa was one of the few countries in the world with the know-how and advanced manufacturing capacity to produce high-quality periscopes for modern submarines.

"With the periscope, submarines are able to observe what is happening outside the water," he said, adding that the production of the periscope demonstrated the company's ability to design, develop, manufacture and deliver world class optronics that could be used by navies across the world.

More than 15 South African companies are involved as suppliers of parts and services in the production process, creating more than 100 jobs. 

Carl Zeiss Optronics has a long history in the development and manufacturing of periscopes.

Rear Admiral Higgs said Carl Zeiss Optronics' ability to maintain and upgrade the local submarines periscopes ensures that the most advanced technology for fast surveillance and observation remain readily available.

"This will strengthen the capacity of the South African Navy to protect the country's coastline against intruders," he said.

Carl Zeiss Optronics is able to manufacture 4 - 6 periscopes per year.

South Africa recently acquired new submarines and the first of three new submarines arrived at Simon's Town naval dockyard in 2006.

The Charlotte Maxeke arrived in South African waters in April 2007 and SAS Queen Modjadji I in May 2008. - BuaNews

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