Vastrap Military Base-Upington

The corrugated iron shed which covers the two test shafts at the Vastrap military base north of Upington. The shed was built in 1987 when Armscor considered reopening the shafts for tests after they had been abandoned ten years earlier following an international outcry.

By 1977, two test shafts (216 and 385 meters deep) had been drilled at the Vastrap military based outside Upington in the northern Cape’s Kalahari Desert, with the intention of conducting an “instrumented cold test” of the first prototype, using a depleted uranium core. This would have entailed a “dry run” for a real nuclear test. The test date was set for August 1977.

***The Vastrap test shafts were filled in with concrete in 1993 under IAEA supervision.

***The RSA-3 missile, as can be seen at the Swartkops Air Force base museum. According to published data one of the missiles, the RSA-4, would have been capable of delivering a 700 kg nuclear warhead from its South African launch site to any point on earth. 

The RSA range of missiles were built around the same engines that power Israel's Jericho-II missile and its "Shavit" space launcher. South Africa ended its missile collaboration with Israel in 1992 and then halted all ballistic missile development in mid-1993.