South Africa builds hi-tech periscopes


13 September 2011


A new generation of periscopes for conventional attack submarines is now being designed and manufactured at Carl Zeiss Optronics in Centurion, south of Pretoria, establishing South Africa as one of the few countries worldwide with such an advanced manufacturing capacity.


The 12-metre tall periscope is being manufactured in a specially designed building, which was officially opened last week 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 upgrades to their existing fleet of submarines.


The fully assembled periscope weighs more than 850 kilograms and has a superb direct-view optical channel. More than 70 different components of lenses, mirrors and prisms are used in a periscope optical channel.


In addition, the periscope is fitted with an advance gyro stabilising system that enables it to perform optimally in the roughest sea conditions.


Advanced manufacturing capacity


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.


He said 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.


Fast surveillance and observation


Rear Admiral Higgs said Carl Zeiss Optronics’ ability to maintain and upgrade the local submarine periscopes ensured that the most advanced technology for fast surveillance and observation remained 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 four to six periscopes per year.


South Africa recently acquired three new submarines. The first, the SAS Manthatisi, arrived at Simon’s Town naval dockyard in 2006. The SAS Charlotte Maxeke arrived in South African waters in April 2007, and the SAS Queen Modjadji in May 2008.


Source: BuaNews