Hilda (Tigercat) SAM
The Shorts Tigercat is the land-based mobile version of the Sea Cat point-defence missile system, used to suppliment the Cactus in the airbase defence role.
The system comprises a three-round trailer-mounted launcher towed by a Land Rover, and a second trailer carrying the fire control equipment (director). The two towing vehicles carried a five-man detachment, a generator and spare missiles.
Once in position, the launcher and director are set up, levelled on jacks and conected to each other by cable links. The director consists of a control officers console and a pedastal director, which has a powerful binocular. Once a target has been acquired and identified, the operator launches a missile and guides it along the line of site to the target by means of a joystick, command inputs being passed by radio link.
The Tigercat missile is a small, subsonic missile powered by a two-stage solid fuel rocket motor. It is steered in flight by four swept, cruciformly arranged wings and is stabilised by four small tail fins. It is guided by Command Line-Of-Sight (CLOS) via a radio-link; i.e. flight commands are transmitted to it from a remote operator using a joystick, with both the missile and target in sight.
Press reports in late 1974 state that Jordan had indirectly concluded an arms deal with South Africa, including the sale of the Tigercat misile system and 41 Centurion tanks. Whereever the Tigercat came from, South Africa acquired approximately 54 batteries and renamed them Hilda.
The system was operated by 250 Air Defence Unit (ADU) equipping 121 Squadron and 123 Squadron initially from AFB Waterkloof and then Pienaarsrivier. 123 Sqn was deployed to AFB Grootfontein for Operation Savannah during 1975 and 1976 and therafter became a permanent fixture at AFB Ondangwa throughout the duration of the Bush War in the airbase defence role with 129 Sqn.
Live firing exercises were held annually at the St Lucia range and dubbed Tappet allowing gunners to hone their skills. During 1977 the unit relocated to Pienaarsrivier (now called Ditholo).
250 air Defence Artillery Group was disbanded in 1993 and the Hilda withdrawn from service.