SA company showcasing military vehicle nav system in Saudi Arabia


An innovative military vehicle navigation system designed and developed by Pretoria-based electronics company Etion Create is on display at the World Defence Show (WDS) currently taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A number of major international vehicle manufacturers are showcasing the CheetahNAV system in MRAP (mine resistant, ambush-protected) vehicles.

“CheetahNAV attracted significant interest in the Middle East market since we launched the system in September 2020. Due to clients insisting on confidentiality in military deals, I can only confirm major contracts signed with two Middle East customers and cannot name them,” Tobie van Loggerenberg, executive business development manager, said.

He confirmed the Middle East as a focus area for Etion Create.

CheetahNAV is designed for harsh environments, such as extreme battlefield conditions. Using an inertial measurement unit (IMU) comprising several aids, including an advanced algorithm, CheetahNAV provides vehicle crews with outstanding situational awareness, the company said.

“The system provides dead reckoning horizontal position accuracy of 0.2% of distance travelled, even where the vehicle crew is denied satellite navigation. This translates to an accuracy of just 200 metres over a 100 kilometre distance,” Van Loggerenberg said.

The tactical grade IMU ensures the system is immune to jamming. Data is displayed on a sunlight readable touchscreen enabled moving map display unit in 16:9 TFT format, with a 1920×1080 resolution.

Etion Create also offers a slave unit for the vehicle driver, as the main display can be positioned elsewhere in a space constrained vehicle. The slave unit, measuring 3.5” diagonal TFT, displays information specifically for the driver.

According to Van Loggerenberg, CheetahNAV evolved from a multi-functional display product in Etion Create’s existing industrial product portfolio with an installed base of over a thousand units. This saw the system reaching a high TRL (technology readiness level) suitable for export, especially where technology transfer is essential.

“For the export market, specifically multi-national operations that are almost the norm, we offer a multi-language option. Our CheetahNAV is focused on the export market, including technology transfer to enable indigenous manufacturing, as is the case with most Middle East countries.”

In addition to demand from the Middle East, there have also been requests from systems integrators in the United States for this product for opportunities in South-east Asia. As CheetahNAV is non-ITAR, customers worldwide can use it for navigation and battlefield management needs.

The display component of CheetahNAV is spun off as a separate product in response to customer requests. The resulting DS620 smart/rugged display is aimed at video applications with systems integrators and/or OEMs putting own software in and linking to various hardware.

Etion Create (formerly Parsec) supplied electronic technology products and solutions to defence customers for more than 20 years for land, sea and air applications. It also operates in the aerospace, information security, mining and industrial sectors.

The formation of Etion allows it to offer turnkey professional engineering solutions from early system concepts through to final product manufacturing and logistic support.

For the defence sector, Etion Create offers customised solutions in signal processing platforms for radar; signal processing units for electronic warfare, weapons integration and weapon control systems, mil-standard communication interfaces, mission computers and display electronic units and test equipment. Etion Create previously developed camera sensor electronics for an optical helmet tracker solution for Eurofighter and Gripen fighter jets used by European air forces and the SA Air Force.

Etion Create has orders for the manufacturing of electronics for defence applications from local clients in South Africa and provides products to the SA National Defence Force Defence Intelligence division. The company is also actice in the information security domain and has products providing virtual private networking (VPN) capabilities.

The World Defence Show in Riyadh ends tomorrow (9 March).