Large Unrestricted Test Arena
Denel Overberg Test Range is located immediately east of the southernmost tip of Africa (34 South) on the south-eastern coast of the Western Cape, between Arniston and Cape Infanta. This area is virtually void of air traffic and shipping is light compared to Northern Hemisphere traffic. A large overland area of approximately 43 000 ha adds to the convenience of the vast sea arena. The overland portion comprises two sectors separated by the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The reserve can, when required, with prior arrangement be designated as part of a safety footprint that effectively joins the two sectors and forms an overland area stretching along the coast for approximately 70 km.
The Western sector of the Range lies between Arniston and the De Hoop Nature Reserve and can be reached from Cape Town via Bredasdorp. The Cape Town International Airport is approximately 200 km from the Test Range. The AFB Overberg with its 3000m main and 2000m secondary runways located adjacent to the Test Range is an added convenience to Test Range clients.
The Range is located in the flight area FAR147, controlled by the South African Air Force. There is thus no altitude limitation at any time, although supersonic flights are subject to strict guidelines to minimize the negative effects of sonic shock waves.
Position: Long 20°19’ E, Lat 34°36’ S.
Ground area: 70 km (max) x 14 km (max) (total 43 000 ha).
Flight area: More than 240 km x 55 km, with no height limitation.
Sea area: Unlimited. 70 km x 30 km covered by electro-optical sensors.
The topography varies from flat with dunes at the beaches in the west to undulating with high rocky coastline in the east. The Western sector is relatively flat and best suited for low level flying. The office facilities, maintenance and storage areas, and main test operations control complex are located in the Western sector. It also contains a prepared air-to-ground target area (approximately 2000 x 400 meters). The Eastern sector has some mountainous areas and a steeper coastline, making it more suitable for terrain-following trajectories. It can also be used as an impact area for longer-range weapons.
Land adjacent to the test range is mostly sparsely populated farmland. The area is therefore free of industrial pollution and radio frequency (RF) interference. In terms of safety the location and topography have the following advantages:
- Long-range weapons can be allowed reasonable deviations from expected flight paths without having to terminate the flight.
- Laser designation and night firings can be done without the danger of locking on to incorrect targets.
- The danger of outside parties entering safety zones is remote.
Other conveniences stemming from the location are:
- Moderate climate with relatively small changes in weather conditions throughout season transitions.
- Good road, sea and air access.
The Test Range lies in the eastern section of the South-Western Cape winter rainfall region, with a typically Mediterranean climate. Relatively warm offshore waters result in mild winter with warm to hot dry summers, with an annual average of 17.5°C. Frost is rare on the lowland. Although winter (June-September) is considered the rainy season, rainfall is spread throughout the entire year with ± 60% in winter and 40% in summer with peaks in spring (October and November) and autumn (March and April). The average annual rainfall is 465 mm, but could vary from 200 to 500 mm per year. This entire coastal region is characterised by frequent strong winds, often reaching gale force. The most frequent summer wind directions are east and south-east, while in winter the prevailing winds are from the north-west and south-west.