The blue water component of the SA Navy, in the form of Valour Class frigates and Heroine Class submarines, has been in service for at least 15 years and the need to mitigate obsolescence risks has led to the development of new equipment by Armscor.
The frigates and submarines, along with jet fighters, lead-in fighter trainers and light utility helicopters, formed the bulk of the Strategic Defence Procurement Package (SDPP). This was in line with a Cabinet decision to re-equip the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) with prime mission equipment in the late nineties.
The frigates and their commissioning dates are SAS Amatola (F145), September 2005; SAS Isandlwana (F146), December 2004; SAS Spioenkop (F147), March 2004 and SAS Mendi (F148), June 2004. The three-strong Type 209 diesel electric submarine component of the SA Navy is SAS Manthatisi (S101), commissioned in November 2005; SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102), March 2007 and SAS Queen Modjadji (S013), May 2008.
Development of new equipment to ensure obsolescence does not become a major headache for Navy management saw part of Armscor’s technology funding of R912 million go to sensors and effectors technology specifically for equipment aboard the frigates and submarines.
The latest Armscor annual report has it that effectors and sensor advance technology demonstrators for the Frequency Modulated continuous wave optical radar tracker, close-in surveillance system and the remote controlled weapon system (Rogue) were developed by various SA defence industry companies.
“To demonstrate the enhanced capabilities and extended functionalities provided when these demonstrators and products are integrated, Project Effector and Sensor Integration (EASI) was initiated to integrate sensors and effectors using middleware software developed by the CSIR.
“This software allowed the technology demonstrators and products to share messages. The highlight was the successful demonstration of EASI, whereby the sensor and effector were integrated, and recorded their data displayed on digital maps of the frigate command and control (C2) system,” the report said.