AOC gearing up for SA’s leading electronic warfare conference


The Association of Old Crows (AOC) electronic warfare interest group is gearing up to host its biennial Electronic Warfare South Africa 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (EWSA) in November and has announced its key speakers, which include Des Barker and Helmoed Heitman alongside heavyweights from local and international industry.

EWSA is set for 4-6 November 2019 at the CSIR International Conference Centre. It will be hosted by the local Aardvark Roost Chapter of the Association of Old Crows.

The programme starts off with one full day of specialised conference workshops, with the first workshop entitled, “Electro-optical System Simulation: Practical Perspectives and Applications” and the second workshop entitled, “Cybersecurity in the Banking Industry”. There is also a third workshop scheduled to be announced in the near future.

Workshop presenters are Nelis Willers, Susan Potgieter and Henry van Jaarsveld. Willers is a professional engineer with over 40 years work experience including electro-optical system development, system architecture and systems engineering, software development, and simulation. His most notable achievements include being the architect and technical lead in the establishment of imaging infrared missile seeker head technology, and in the process, spearheading advanced physics-based image simulation. Susan Potgieter has headed strategic services at the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) since March 2003. Henry van Jaarsveld is the manager of Cybersecurity at SABRIC.

Then there will be two full days of plenary sessions with local and international speakers, including experts from the military, government, academia, science and technology, research and development communities and industry.

Presentation topics will include, “Electronic warfare – A forgotten discipline? – An air force perspective”, by Major General (ret) Des Barker, “Being ahead of the spectrum evolution – approaches to ensure spectrum dominance”, by Hensoldt’s Roland Castor, “Going from microwaves to mm-waves – what’s the same, what’s different”, by the University of Pretoria’s Dr Tinus Stander, and “A whole-of-society approach to drone counter-measures,” by the CSIR’s Dr Duarte Goncalves.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be contributing a number of speakers, including Lieutenant Colonel Danie Bellingan of the South African Air Force, who will be talking about attack helicopter operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The SA Special forces will discuss operational perspectives of the Special Forces whilst the SA Navy will look at operational perspectives and a new border safeguarding strategy. Major Gert de Jager of the South African Army will unpack the security risks and implications from the uncontrolled use of social networks in the South African Army.

From industry, Sysdel will look at the joint development of a high performance digital receiver for ELINT (electronic intelligence) applications whilst GEW’s Wimpie van den Berg will discuss trends in communication warfare. Another presentation from GEW, by Werner Muller, will examine integrated surveillance and security solutions applicable to border safeguarding and wildlife protection. Daniel Grolimund from RUAG will look at trends in electronic warfare self-protection testing and Ludi Kruger from Saab Grintek Defence will discuss advances in ultraviolet missile approach warning. Also regarding countermeasures, Stuart Chapman from Leonardo will give a talk on the Miysis directional infrared countermeasures system.

Other topics from industry include a multi-function threat warner for land vehicles (Charl Barnard, Saab Grintek Defence), the effect of jamming against central banks (Jacques Théron, South African Reserve Bank), and the deployment of a commercial PCL (passive coherent location/passive radar) system at the Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope (Francois Louw, Peralex).

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has a number of presenters lined up, with Craig Tong to look at software defined radio in the radar and electronic warfare space and Treshan Pillay discussing ground based air defence system live, virtual and constructive simulators for training, test and evaluation. Adrian Adams will delve into cognitive electronic warfare.

The programme will focus on national, regional and international perspectives, defensive and offensive capabilities, technological developments, radio frequency electronic warfare, training, testing and evaluation, cyber and more. Platinum sponsors of the event are GEW Technologies, with SAAB Grinktek Defence being gold sponsors and Rohde & Shwartz being bronze sponsors.

There will also be exhibitions from Etion, Comtech, Tamashi, Concilium Technologies, SAAB Grintek Defence, GEW Technologies and Rohde & Shwartz.

Conference speakers include:

Major General Desmond Barker, who served as a combat and experimental test pilot for over forty years and moved to the CSIR in 2008 where he headed up the Aeronautics Research Unit until 2016. He served as the Chief Test Pilot from 1990 at the South African Air Force’s Test Flight and Development Centre, Base Commander AFB Overberg from 1995, Air Attaché United Kingdom from 2000, Base Commander AFB Makhado from 2004, and in 2008, retired as Chief of Air Staff Operations;

Roland Castor, who has been working with Hensoldt since 2011. His area of expertise spans from ES (electronic support) and EA (electronic attack) to SIGINT (signals intelligence), in the three most common domains land, sea and air. Before joining Hensoldt, he served as an EW Officer within the German Air Force;

Stuart Chapman, who is the Capability Manager for EO/IRCM (electro-optical/infrared countermeasures) at Leonardo MW, in Edinburgh, UK;

Major Gert “Chase” de Jager, who is currently employed as the Project Officer for the SANDF’s Tactical and Mobile EW Acquisition programme;

Dr Warren du Plessis, who is currently a Professor at the University of Pretoria. du Plessis is a Senior Member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a Lifetime Member of the Association of Old Crows (AOC), a member of the AOC Aardvark Roost Board, and a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). While his primary research focus has been cross-eye jamming, du Plessis has also published on issues such as data reduction, cognitive EW, and possible approaches to enhancing EW training;

Dr Duarte Goncalves, who is currently employed by the CSIR as a Principal Engineer where he currently leads the on-going development and application of a whole-of-society approach to security in the areas of border security, disaster management, infrastructure security, wildlife crime, and food and nutrition security;

Helmoed Heitman, who has written and lectured on defence matters since 1978, and consulted to the SA Defence Ministry, the Defence Force, members of Parliament and defence companies. He served in the SA Army reserve from 1970 to 1996, in posts from Bren team leader and company intelligence clerk, to brigade intelligence officer, paymaster at a sector, duty officer at sector and regional command headquarters, and studies officer in the Long-Term Planning Division at Defence Headquarters;

Ludi Kruger, who works at Saab Grintek Defence, has worked on all aspects of ultraviolet missile approach warning, laser warning as well as certain aspects of infrared measurements. He currently manages the electro-optics group of the company, where there are strong teams focusing on the different electro-optic detection and warning domains;

Werner Muller, who is currently responsible for the Spectrum Management and Monitoring department as well as the Integrated Security and Surveillance solutions department within GEW Technologies;

Dr Tinus Stander, who currently serves as principal investigator in microwave and mm-wave microelectronics at the Carl and Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronic, with personal research interests in built-in self-testing and water vapour radiometry. He is also registered as Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa, and serves as Scientific Advisor to Multifractal Semiconductors (Pty) Ltd;

Jacques Théron, who is employed as the Financial Sector Cybersecurity Liaison at the Cyber and Information Security Unit at the South African Reserve Bank (SARB);

Dr Craig Tong, who holds the position of Senior Signal and Systems Analyst in the Radar and Electronic Warfare (REW) Area of the Defence and Security Cluster of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He regularly contributes to technology demonstrators including synthetic aperture radar, foliage penetration radar and radar threat simulation and is responsible for driving the architecture of the CSIR Passive Radar Testbed Facility which forms part of a long term effort towards qualifying passive radar as a sensor that can contribute to air traffic monitoring.

The previous EW South Africa International Conference and Exhibition in 2017 saw over 220 industry stakeholders take part along with 13 exhibitors. The exhibition running alongside the conference allows visitors to meet with industry solutions providers and to see demonstrations of the latest innovations and technologies shaping the future of electromagnetic operations.