South African Radar & EW and Communications Projects

Graugrun

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Very little has been released regards our own airborne radar project/s (for fighters). Project Meccano is the only mentioned one to my knowledge, the below being the most information to date that I have seen on it. It would seem to relate to project Carver (the SAAF fighter aircraft project).

Below extract from a paper presented on CSIR by Jakkie Cilliers in 1996:

"A contract for the development of the Meccano radar was place with Aerotek and the sub system technologies have been developed. Development of the full three channel monopulse tracking radar is currently underway, and a project to develop a one dimensional active phased-array antenna for integration with the Mecanno radar has begun in (mid) 1995."


Also attached below is a picture from an Avitronics brochure (now SAAB Avitronics - perhaps better known for their airborne and other EW equipment).

It shows what looks like a Elta ELM-2032 radar antenna/array (with one small difference). Why would they produce this though? It would be way too expensive to do this just for spare parts purposes for the Cheetah C fighter (if it is indeed the 2032 antenna/array). Is this perhaps an indication that there was some sort of co-development and or manufacturing on the 2032 with the Israelis - did we perhaps design the 2032 antenna?

Or is this part of project Mecanno - someone out there must be able to answer some of the above and more....
 

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JFC Fuller

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

I have often seen in a number of places that a Longbowesque radar was proposed for the Rooivalk, has anybody else seen anything to confirm or refute this?
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

JFC Fuller said:
I have often seen in a number of places that a Longbowesque radar was proposed for the Rooivalk, has anybody else seen anything to confirm or refute this?
I have unfortunately long since lost touch with the people who could give me the correct input on this. I had heard particularly in relation to the UK bid that we might had to get something like that going, many companies (like AMS, Avitronics, CSIR etc) had often mentioned or talked of their MMW radar expertise, also it was always expected that the Mokopa would be have a MMW seeker as an option. I suspect that the capability might have been there - but like most things, not the funding...

The below picture comes from an Atlas Aircraft brochure on their rotor technology (design expertise, testing, manufacturing, qualification) - My interest being rather piqued when I first saw this pic many years ago - They told me that it is simply an x-ray of sorts to check on the rotor head below during various testing.

One of the Rooivalk brochures at the time of the UK proposal states the following under 'Growth Options': Bowman Radios, MAST MOUNTED PAYLOADS, Anti-ship Capability.

Again there is someone out there who can tell us more I am sure.
 

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kaiserbill

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Once again, thanks very much for such interesting posts, Graugrun.

I too have searched long and hard for details on "Meccano", after seeing it mentioned briefly, probably ultimately for use in the Carver Fighter Project, in Those who had the Power.

I've not found anything else, unfortunately.
 

overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

The Meccano breadboard radar technology demonstrator was contracted in 1990. The aim was to establish a variety of modern radar technologies in support of the new generation of radar applications. These included modern flexible waveform generation, digital pulse compression, pulsed Doppler processing and advanced Electronic Counter-Countermeasures (ECCMs). This radar technology was transferred to a South African radar company, Reutech Radar Systems, who utilised it in the development of the Optronic Radar Tracker (ORT), now fully integrated on the SA Navy’s Valour class Frigates.
http://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/bitstream/10204/2575/1/Goosen_2008.pdf
 

kaiserbill

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Thanks for that Paul.
That link also mentions the Fynkyk radar technology project, which I think Those who had the Power mentions was related to Meccano, unless I've misunderstood.
 

overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Fynkyk was earlier and less advanced.

During 1983 a contract was placed on the
CSIR to design and develop a full
monopulse tracking radar technology
demonstrator. It was to operate at an
extremely high radar frequency [Ka-band] and utilize
the latest digital signal processor and
microprocessor technology. The Fynkyk
radar, as it became known, was completed
in 1988 and integrated in a mobile
laboratory for field trials and
demonstrations. During the past decade,
Fynkyk was extensively deployed in
support of engineering measurements and
South African Air Force and Army force
preparation exercises.
 

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kaiserbill

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Ah, okay.
So an earlier precursor then.
 

overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

From what I've seen, Fynkyk nor Meccano were CSIR technology demonstrators / proof of concept designs - of how to design from scratch a Ka-band monopulse tracking radar and an X-band pulse doppler radar respectively - The technology was given to ESD (Reutech) to turn into a useful radar system. Meccano would have been unlikely to lead to an airborne radar better than what Israel (Elta) could offer anytime soon. Apparently that technology went to Reutech as well.

Atlas was planning to use ELM-2032 series radar from Israel's Elta on the Carver.

Building on radar competence existing in the CSIR since its establishment in 1945, a competence in tracking radar technology was started in 1978 that still continues today.The first development was a technology demonstrator of a 35GHz, range-only radar called Nimbus. It was followed in 1983 by the development of the Fynkyk 35GHz monopulse tracking radar technology demonstrator. It was completed in 1988, integrated into a mobile laboratory and became well known in the SANDF user-community for radar phenomenology measurements and technology demonstrations during field trials. The Fynkyk radar technology was subsequently transferred to ESD, now known as Reutech Radar Systems (RRS), where it was industrialised.

The Fynkyk technology was vastly extended when a contract for the development of the Meccano technoogy demonstrator was placed with the CSIR in 1989. A single-channel breadboard version of this new pulsed Doppler tracking radar was completed in 1995. Meccano technology was further developed and transferred to RRS between 1996 and 2005 where it was used as the basis of their Optronic Radar Tracker (ORT), designed to meet the South African Navy's stringent requirements for their new Patrol Corvettes.

This eventually led to a R350 million contract with RRS for the supply of all the tracking systems on the Patrol Corvettes. RRS is currently marketing the ORT as one of its flagship products locally and abroad. At present, some of the advanced radar research projects at the CSIR are aimed at the continuous improvement of this South African innovation, exploiting its built-in upgrade potential to provide even higher levels of performance in a practical user environment and adding to its export potential.
http://www.csir.co.za/publications/pdfs/sciencescope/Science_scope_oct2005.pdf
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Many thanks for that PaulMM - especially the pics! - I had skimmed through that article before, however I obviously missed that portion, BTW I specifically did not mention Fynkyk , as it was more of a technology project/mobile testing/R&D laboratory type of setup - it has since seemingly been superceded by programs like MecORT, Spider and AwareNet (I will cover it in more detail later).

What I did no know is that Fynkyk and the Meccano programs were handed over to RRS and further developed into their RTS 6400 Tracking System for our Frigates.

My only question on Atlas wanting to use the ELM-2032 series radar on the carver would be: then why set up a development program? - rather just buy the product. Unless of course the Meccano project was to improve or build on the ELM-2032 in some way/s - and perhaps to include the manufacture of some of the components where feasible. That would make more sense to me.

Hopefully someone can enlighten us further.
 

overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Graugrun said:
Many thanks for that PaulMM - especially the pics! - I had skimmed through that article before, however I obviously missed that portion, BTW I specifically did not mention Fynkyk , as it was more of a technology project/mobile testing/R&D laboratory type of setup - it has since seemingly been superceded by programs like MecORT, Spider and AwareNet (I will cover it in more detail later).

What I did no know is that Fynkyk and the Meccano programs were handed over to RRS and further developed into their RTS 6400 Tracking System for our Frigates.

My only question on Atlas wanting to use the ELM-2032 series radar on the carver would be: then why set up a development program? - rather just buy the product. Unless of course the Meccano project was to improve or build on the ELM-2032 in some way/s - and perhaps to include the manufacture of some of the components where feasible. That would make more sense to me.

Hopefully someone can enlighten us further.
Perhaps:

Fynkyk = ETS 2400 (Ka-band)
http://www.rrs.co.za/products/products-heritage#ets-2400

Meccano = RTS 6400? (X-Band)
http://www.rrs.co.za/products/products-heritage#rts-6400
 

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overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

We could split the radar stuff to the Avionics forum.

Regarding the "Meccano" project - was it definitely related to Carver? If it was, then it could have been to allow measurement and evaluation of third party radars. Alternatively it could have been aimed at developing an indigenous radar for Carver. However, it would have been unlikely to have borne fruit early enough to be useful without a background in license manufacture of a contemporary airborne radar.
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
We could split the radar stuff to the Avionics forum.
I think it would be the right thing to do - however since there has not been much done, can I suggest that we be allowed to add in all South African radar and EW development (ground/air/naval). That way we can make it into a decent thread of substance (as I assume being an "Avionics forum" it relates to airborne activities only....!?)


BTW regards your comments above on Mecanno - Yes that also is a good possibility and also makes sense - as always hopefully someone will fill in all the (large) blanks in terms of "Meccano"
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Thanks PaulMM!

Herewith brochure on the ETS 2400 as per the above, I have the same for the RTS 6400, however since the RTS 6400 has now been produced, it is no longer applicable to this forum.
 

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overscan

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Not true, it is appropriate for this section.
 

kaiserbill

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

The ZA-35 Spaag based on the Rooikat has a system of optronics/laser rangefinder developed by Eloptro, but what radar is used on that vehicle?
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Just something new - apparently it has attracted a fair amount of interest as a easy and very cost effective way of completing various missile/EW/radar testing. The same engineer who headed this is also heading the Impundulu anti radiation missile posted in the S.A. missile thread - http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,21179.0.html

Funny, it seems it's initial testing was done on an old Hawker Hunter (painted as a Swiss machine).

He also seems to have a perchant for unusual Zulu/Xhosa project names...
 

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Graugrun

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

I'm not sure if this is meant to replace the RTS 6400/ETS 2400, is a new model in the range, or an evolution of one of them, as I did not get the chance to speak to anyone on the Reutech stand.

Anyway, herewith the brochure on the RTS 3200.
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

I thought we had already bought 14 sets of the Thales Squire tactical radar sets (man portable), I don't know if this was Reutech's offering or if this is a new development of theirs - if so it is clearly for the overseas market.
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Some poor quality but rather rare pics of one of our developmental SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) radars being tested in a TurboDak. Date and more info I don't have, except that I am reasonably sure that this was in the late 90's.

Anyone able to add some more info?
 

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kaiserbill

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Fascinating, Graugrun. I'd not heard of this before.

What are those two tubes in the middle picture? They look like sonobuoy launchers...
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

kaiserbill said:
The ZA-35 Spaag based on the Rooikat has a system of optronics/laser rangefinder developed by Eloptro, but what radar is used on that vehicle?
It was the L-band EDR 110 - in fact this formed the basis for most of the other and larger radar development that ESD-South developed (Later becoming Reutech Radar Systems) - obviously communality played a big role as well - but some of the reasons are evident in the explanation of the L-band choice for EDR 110 in the article below, as the same reasons for using the EDR 110 as the base to work on.

The article also covers the EOT tracker, Radar/Optronic tracker and the commander's site - although not all applicable to this this, they are included for completeness (I think this article will answer a lot of ZA-35 SPAAG questions for you ;) ).

No brochure on the EDR 110 that I know of, I think it was never meant to be sold separate the the ZA-35 SPAAG anyway. What has been stated is that the EDR 120/140 mobile radar is in fact the towed derivative of the EDR 110, just with slightly increased range (17km's instead of 12km's). I suspect that the picture in the brochure below actually shows the 140 version, but that's just my guess.

Article courtesy of Military Technology 12-1991 - and written by H.R. Heitmann.
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

The prototype Reutech Radar Systems RSR 320 - Battlefield Air Defence system. It is a further development of the ESR 220L, which I think is in SANDF service. It's a dual X and L band radar, optimised for missile guidence and was in fact used as the mid-course guidance radar during the 2013 land based Umkhonto live missile firing exercise (2 X shots at 15 km range, one fired to 20 km's). Apparently observers from 9 other countries attended the demo (Finland and Algeria would properly have been two of them - I wonder who the others were?).

The RSR 320 is intended to be the associated radar system for the land based Umkhonto, part of the GBADS project (phase 3 I think). They have been developing this refined system for a few years now - and hoping for an order.

I will scan and post the ESR 22L's brochure just for reference to the differences between it and the RSR 320.
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Another Radar that was never fully developed - the ESR-380 3D long range radar. This poor photocopy is all I have - I remember seeing a model of it on the Reutech Radar system stand, pity I never too a photograph of it. I guess this also just fell victim to the massive defence cuts at the time. Article courtesy of Jane's IDR January 1993 (DEXSA show report).
 

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Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Graugrun said:
Just something new - apparently it has attracted a fair amount of interest as a easy and very cost effective way of completing various missile/EW/radar testing. The same engineer who headed this is also heading the Impundulu anti radiation missile posted in the S.A. missile thread - http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,21179.0.html

Funny, it seems it's initial testing was done on an old Hawker Hunter (painted as a Swiss machine).

He also seems to have a perchant for unusual Zulu/Xhosa project names...
An update from IHS Janes....

http://www.janes.com/article/54746/new-south-african-ew-pod-takes-first-flight
 

Graugrun

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JFC Fuller

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Joint South African and German Directed Infrared Counter Measures system tested in an Oryx in 2006: http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/print-version/south-africangerman-joint-rampd-project-delivers-leadingedge-technology-2006-11-24
 

Graugrun

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

JFC Fuller - Thanks!

Now that is a very interesting article and find - I thought I was pretty up to date on our various developments and prototypes, however I did not know about this one at all! :eek:

One can only wonder as to what came of it - we have done joint development with the Germans before (more recently on joint radio development), so any further info on this project would be most welcome. I can only assume though that it did not progress much further due to lack of funding on our part/and or lack of political will on our part...?

Once again, thanks very much for this insight!
 

Trident

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

A400M connection perhaps?
 

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Re: South African Radar & EW Projects

Has South Africa every try to make fighter aircraft radar ?

Seeing advanced projects like Carver got me thinking of that.
 
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