CSIR’s simulation systems enhance electronic warfare training, research and development


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed numerous cutting-edge simulation systems for electronic warfare training, research and development, and many of these systems are being used to support the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and defence industry.

Reeshen Reddy, the research group leader for the CSIR’s digital electronic warfare group, explained how the CSIR continues to advance the country’s defence sector through innovative simulation and training solutions at the Aerospace Simulation and Training Symposium in Pretoria last week.

Reddy explained that the CSIR has developed multiple simulation systems for electronic warfare (EW). The Sensors and Electronic Warfare Engagement Simulation (SEWES) system is a radio frequency electronic warfare simulation environment consisting of any number of platforms, sensors, effectors and EW systems that can engage each other in a simulated environment. SEWES helps answer the question of how to use radar and countermeasures on aircraft.

The CSIR’s SigmaHat is a software tool used to calculate and analyse radar cross section (RCS) and other electromagnetic (EM) scattering of large complex objects like aircraft, vehicles and ships. It was developed in support of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

Enigma is a hardware in the loop, radar target, electronic attack and clutter simulator, primarily used for testing radars. Incorporating SEWES and SigmaHat, it uses the Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology developed by the CSIR that can generate jamming waveforms. Enigma 4 was developed with Armscor and the Department of Defence for radar testing of assets including missiles (it can test and evaluate radars and evaluate radars against jamming by generating radar engagement scenarios and targets).

The CSIR’s Inundu airborne pod is also used for electronic warfare testing and evaluation. It can simulate anti-ship missiles in air-to-surface combat, as well as air-to-air. It is platform agnostic and has been flown on the Denel Cheetah, Hawker Hunter and BAE Systems Hawk.

In addition to its electronic warfare simulation solutions, the CSIR runs a biennial four-week course on electronic warfare systems. This resulted from a request from the SA Air Force to educate SANDF engineers, EW and radar operators, pilots, navigators and intelligence personnel on electromagnetic sensors and the art of electronic warfare. Members from other arms of service and Defence Intelligence also participate; the course is also open to selected Armscor, defence industry and CSIR members. The CSIR has facilitated the course since 2004.

The CSIR has also supported the SA Air Force in electronic warfare training exercises, and created electronic warfare ranges for EW testing, evaluation and training. In its EW Range, a collection of assets (such as aircraft, emulators, simulators etc.) can be brought together for force preparation training exercises.

On the optronics side, the CSIR offers multiple solutions, such as object/action detection, recognition and tracking for video surveillance; long range cameras for border safeguarding (such as Tyto, Otus and Rino); specialised payloads for space and airborne platforms (including synthetic aperture radar); and platform protection solutions.

Developed in partnership with Denel is the Optronic System Simulator (OSSIM), an infrared equivalent of SEWES that can, for example, determine the effectiveness of infrared countermeasures.

Reddy explained that the CSIR’s simulation capabilities go beyond electronic warfare and on the Aeronautic Systems side, the CSIR offers various low and high speed wind tunnels for testing aircraft or missile performance; simulations for aircraft and missile performance; weapons integration services; unmanned systems research and development; and propulsion systems research and development.

The Mission Simulation Framework, for example is a scenario simulation tool capable of simulating the interactions between a large number of land or air-based entities, useful for air-to-air and air-to-ground engagements.

Another example of SANDF support involves its Ground-Based Air Defence System (GBADS). For a decade the CSIR helped the programme through simulation-based decision support and doctrine development support through the Virtual GBADS Demonstrator (VGD).

Reddy believes that live, virtual and constructive simulation is a powerful and cost-effective tool to augment military training, and can be used to enhance the South African defence industry as it develops new products. He invited the SANDF and defence industry to further engage on the many simulation and training solutions the CSIR offers.