CSIR continues to deliver DRFM devices


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) continues to deliver its Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) devices, used in electronic warfare applications, to customers around the world.

The CSIR said the DRFM is at Technology Readiness Level nine (the system is used in operational conditions) and has been used in laboratories and in field deployments with end users on five continents, against operational surface and air-based radar systems. Currently, the CSIR is delivering the fifth generation of this system to an end user. In total, more than 110 DRFMs have been delivered over the past 20 years.

Digital Radio Frequency Memory devices are typically used in operational systems such as fighters to generate jamming waveforms that would protect it against radar threats. The DRFM receives a radio frequency emission from a threat radar then modulates the signal and returns a delayed version of the radar emission to the radar, creating a false target for spoofing or jamming the threat radar system.

The CSIR said its DRFM is highly programmable, operates over a wide frequency band and is able to generate high fidelity emissions. The DRFM is used in CSIR laboratories and forms the core of its Electronic Warfare (EW) Environment Simulator Systems. These EW projects evaluate a radar’s robustness against jamming as well as providing acceptance testing of new radars; research and development in radar technology; training of both pilots and incoming engineers; and doctrine development.

“Several similar products exist in the world, but capabilities of the CSIR product have been proven to be unique,” the Council said. The CSIR system is also not ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) controlled.


The DRFM device is used to test and evaluate electronic warfare and radar equipment. The CSIR has dedicated simulators, including a radar test and evaluation system which can simulate targets with electromagnetic countermeasures and environmental clutter. The system can be used to evaluate a radar’s robustness against jamming, in the acceptance of new radars, training and research and development.

This radar test/simulation technology has been developed over 20 years and is now in its fifth generation. It has been used by the South African National Defence Force for radar testing, as well as users on five continents against operational surface and air-based radar systems. “A solid international market exists – with return clients – in the Far East,” the CSIR said. International contract funding is currently supporting the technology.

Whilst competing products do exist, the CSIR says it has published evidence it outperforms competitors in certain areas and the system is also not controlled by ITAR. “This ensures the system is designed around end user requirements.”

Aside from its radar simulator, the CSIR has developed its Sensors and Electronic Warfare Engagement Simulation (SEWES) system, in which any number of platforms, consisting of any number of sensors and EW systems, can engage with each other.

SEWES is used by defence research institutes for electronic warfare effectiveness evaluation, doctrine development and training. Decision makers can simulate ‘what if’ questions using SEWES to develop and evaluate doctrine.

Naval, air and ground platforms can be added to the simulator, with each platform having its own command and control centre from where all interactions between system models are controlled and observed. Engagement scenarios are visualised in a 3D environment.

“SEWES is clearly viewed as one of the most advanced EW simulators in the world,” the CSIR said. “It is currently licensed to a number of users such as defence research institutes internationally.”