Publication: Engineering News Date: 2003-09-05 Reporter: Jill Stanford Reporter:

First Corvette Set to Install SA Radar System



Engineering News




Jill Stanford

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STELLENBOSCH company Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) is putting the radar tracking system for the South African Navy’s first patrol corvette through its final stages of acceptance testing at the ORT test site in Bredasdorp, in the Western Cape.

Within the next two weeks the system will be delivered to the combat suite main contractor for installation on the SAS Amatola, which has left the yard of the German Frigate Consortium and is due to arrive in Simon’s Town in November.

RRS, a joint venture between JSE-listed Reunert, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and black economic empowerment partner Kgorong Investment Holdings, was contracted in 2000 to supply eight RTS 6400 optronics radar tracking systems as part of the South African Navy’s (SAN) patrol corvette combat suite.

“Subsequent systems are due for delivery in quarterly deliveries, with trials taking place in conjunction with other combat system elements over half-yearly periods following installation,” says RRS business manager Anthony Green.

The optronics radar tracker is a 100% South African product and all research, development and production has been done by RRS, in conjunction with its associated South African subcontractors, the SAN and Armscor.

The tracker performs a pivotal role in the self-defence of the corvette.

It will continuously track air and surface targets determined as threats by the ship’s combat system.

During the tracking process, the RTS 6400 provides range, bearing, elevation and velocity information to the weapons systems. Target information is obtained from radar and optical sensors, with laser rangefinders providing range information. The system has high dynamic performance required to track rapidly manoeuvring air targets, sophisticated processing for detecting extremely small targets under adverse weather conditions and compact design to suit installation on small to medium-sized naval vessels.

RRS CEO Piet Smit says the tracker system is the best available in the world today.

The first system was delivered in December to the land-based test site in Simon’s Town, which serves as an integration facility to test interfaces with the combat management system (CMS).

The first system, therefore, serves as a tool to reduce integration risk on the vessel, and will later be installed as one of the vessel ship-sets.

“The acceptance trials on the system for the first patrol corvette represent the culmination of exhaustive evaluation over the past months,” says Green.

At present RRS’s local business is about 80%, with the company’s other big contract being a subcontract awarded in February for the supply of the local warning radar, fire-control software and system level integration and testing for the first phase of the SA Ground Based Air Defence programme, which was awarded to Denel.

“Although our order book is full this financial year, we need to prepare for the international market. Our biggest challenge is to change the perception that good technology cannot come from Africa,” says Smit.

RRS will be counting on its partner EADS, a leading company in European defence technology, for international alignment.

With acknowledgements to Jill Stanford and Engineering News.