The Finnish navy has become the first export customer for the Kentron Umkhonto-IR ship-based surface-to-air missile. The missiles will equip six vessels in Finland's planned Squadron 2000 project.

Denel's Kentron division is completing Umkhonto-IR missile qualification trials and is poised to begin ship integration with the South African navy's MEKO 200-class corvettes next year. Ship qualification is due to be completed in early 2004, says Kentron.

Qualification for the Finnish ships has started and is expected to be completed shortly after the work for South Africa. The Squadron 2000 concept consists of fast missile boats and hovercraft.

Umkhonto-IR is an infrared-guided, vertically launched missile designed for use against sea-skimming missiles as well as aircraft. The 3m (10ft)-long missile weighs 125kg (275lb).

Control is provided by tail-mounted fins and a thrust vectoring nozzle.

Source: Flight International