Carl Zeiss keeping SAAF recce capability flying


Centurion-based Carl Zeiss Optronics has been awarded a R1.5 million contract to maintain the South African Air Force’s airborne tactical reconnaissance capability on the Cessna C208 Caravan aircraft.

The contract, awarded last month, will see Carl Zeiss Optronics maintain the Argos 410-Z fitted to a number of C208, operated by 41 Squadron, as part of Project Koiler in terms of a R22 million contract announced in March 2007 for a day/night reconnaissance system. The deal involved the acquisition of three sets of mission equipment, inclusive of a datalink, and the modification of 11 aircraft. The aircraft, so equipped, were successfully used in Operation Kgwele, the drive to secure the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2010 soccer World Cup. The aircraft could be seen circling various stadiums to assist in crowd control prior to and after soccer matches.

Project Koiler corrected the SAAF’s lack of an affordable real-time observation capability that was lost by the withdrawal of the Denel Seeker MkI Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in 2004. The Argos 410-Z is a stabilised airborne observation system equipped with a latest generation thermal imager, a 3-CCD daylight TV camera with powerful zoom lens, eye-safe laser rangefinder, autotracker, and mission awareness positioning system (MAPS). The MAPS function provides the operator with GPS coordinates of “objects of interest” by means of a high accuracy integrated inertial measurement unit.

Built to military specifications, the thermal imager offers four fields of view and advanced image processing features, including edge enhancement, local adaptive dynamic compression and electronic zoom. The Caravan is equipped with a removable onboard operator station which is data linked to a ground station, providing the joint operations centre with a real-time imagery.

Airborne tactical reoconnaissance capability on the Cessna C208 aircraft – extension of EBEB/2005/647

BEB/S2010/2424 17 Feb 2011 R1 500 000,00 Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd

BEB/S2009/2347 17 Mar 2010 R904 351,00 Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd

BEB/S2009/2288 18 Jun 2009 R786 000,00 Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd

BEB/S2007/2162 25 Jan 2008 R3 340 550,00 Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd

Day/night airborne tactical reconnaissance capability

EBEB/2005/647 19 Dec 2008 R3 367 217,00 Carl Zeiss Optronics (Pty) Ltd

Airborne tactical reconnaissance capability

EBEB//2005/647 28 Mar 2007 R22 049 000,00 Denel (Pty) Ltd t/a Denel Optronics

Pic: A 41 Squadron Cessna C208 Caravan. Note the Argos sight onthe left rear fuselage and the World Cuplogo on the lower forward tail fin.