Source: Kaique Rocha

The challenge given to the three young engineers to redesign an infantry soldier’s most trusted ally, the machine gun, making it lighter and easier to handle without compromising its firepower and reliability, sounded deceptively easy.

They tackled it with out-of-the-box-thinking and unequalled enthusiasm.

Today, the three young South African engineering graduates have their names etched firmly in history following the success of their project to design the lightest, yet powerful machine gun in the world.

Marumo Talane (32), Dakalo Nekhumbe (25) and Phindile Mashaba (26) developed the DMG-5. The innovation was showcased in the Africa, Aerospace and Defence trade and exhibition show which was held at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, in Pretoria.

Left to right: Marumo Talane, Dakalo Nekhumbe and Phindile Mashaba
Source: Supplied


Nekhumbe, Mashaba and Talane work at Denel Land Systems (DLS) and are all products of the Denel Engineering Academy. The project lends itself to the company’s primary objective of always innovating and coming up with improved products without cutting corners or compromising on the requirements of firepower and accuracy.

Stephan Burger, CEO of Denel Land Systems says Mashaba, Nekhumbe and Talane were given a simple, yet challenging brief: “modernise the weapon, decrease its weight and retain its reputation as one of the most trusted elements in the infantry’s arsenal”.

Within these guidelines, they were given the freedom and flexibility to come up with an innovative and effective final product.

“The challenges were set – and met – with great enthusiasm and professionalism. The weapon that emerged from the engineering team represents a major leap forward in weapons design. A weight reduction of almost 20% has been achieved – the DMG-5 tips the scales at a mere 8.3kg compared to the 10.3kg of the standard SS77,” says Burger.

DMG-5 machine gun
Source: Supplied


“The success of the project confirms Denel’s commitment to guide and mentor young talent through the early stages of their careers,” says Burger. “We gave them the responsibility to work on a major project – but also the freedom to explore their own ideas and utilise the knowledge they have gained during their training and education.”

The DMG-5 is among the lightest machine guns in the world. It can fire both7.62mm or 5.56mm calibre ammunition and can be enhanced with optional tactical attachments such as optical sights, night vision equipment, torches or laser pointers.

The grip can be adjusted to suit the personal requirements of the operator. The weapon is effective at a range of up to 1 500 metres and has a firing rate of up to 900 rounds per minute.

“The result represents a major breakthrough for Denel which will definitely contribute to our reputation as one of the leading global innovators in design and advanced manufacturing and among the top 100 defence companies in the world,” says Burger.