As Reutech Radar Systems (RRS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, it continues its expansion into the mining market, has launched a new radar product and is positioning for several South African National Defence Force (SANDF) projects, including Biro, Chutney and Syne.
Carl Kies, CEO of Reutech Radar Systems (RRS), during celebrations on 17 October to mark the 30 year anniversary of the company, said since its establishment RRS’s legacy includes equipment that are in use by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and export customers.
This includes radars in service with the SA Army (such as the ESR-220,which became the Thutlwa, in service as a battery command post system and is being further developed into the dual-band DBRX-L radar for the Ground-Based Air-Defence System) and SA Navy (the optronic and radar/optronic trackers for the four Valour class frigates). Reutech has also exported to a NATO customer, supplying its RSR210N radar for the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Nansen class frigates.
Reutech’s RSR 904 radar is a major component of the Meerkat wide area surveillance system used to combat poaching in the Kruger National Park. Kies said this has to date resulted in a significant reduction in the number of rhinos being killed.
This defence experience “has culminated in the fact that we are ideally positioned to participate in key future local radar-related defence programmes such as Biro, Chutney and Syne,” Kies said, with Project Biro being the acquisition of patrol vessels for the SA Navy; Project Chutney replacing some mobile and fixed air defence radars operated by the South Africa Air Force and Project Syne upgrading the SA Navy frigates.
“In going the local route, opportunities to maintain, grow and enhance the skills base in South Africa within the local industry and emerging SMMEs will be ensured. It will also create opportunity for the Department of Defence to capitalise on local intellectual property through Government-to-Government initiatives, such as in the supply of a completely South African air defence system – one of a handful of countries that could do so.”
Kies was referring to the South African Army’s Ground-Based Air Defence System (GBADS), which has been divided into three components, with phase one seeing the Starstreak short range missile officially introduced into SA Army service in October 2014. Phase two is adding new generation Gun Fire Control Systems, namely the Skyshield system from Rheinmetall Air Defence as well as upgrading the current Mk 5 guns to the new 35 mm Mk 7 air defence gun system configuration. Phase three will see integration of the Denel Dynamics Umkhonto air defence missile into the GBADS.
On the security and civil side, Reutech has established capability around industrial security with its radar-based Perimeter Intrusion Monitoring system. “This system has been deployed at a major industrial facility and also has great potential at mining sites to deter illegal mining activities. The system can also be applied as part of a greater border surveillance system as a gap filling radar,” Kies said.
Reutech solutions have been supplied to several mines around the world. Its Mining Surveillance Radar (MSR) was first delivered to New Vaal Colliery in 2006. “In the same year the first MSR was exported to Chile, followed by exports to Australia in 2007. Ten years later RRS’ MSRs are used in over 25 countries and more than 150 units have been delivered to over 75 mines. The MSR systems have detected and provided advance warning on multiple slope failures that could have resulted in injury or loss of life,” Kies said.
“These radars are designed to operate 24x7x365 and are preferred globally due to their high operational availability of over 99% under some of the harshest conditions on the planet.” New products and services include the Sub-Surface Profiler, which is a ground penetrating radar that is being used in underground mines to detect weaknesses in rock structures, Kies said. “The mining business unit is a globally competitive entity which is making a major contribution towards our success, as well as contributing to foreign earnings for South Africa.”
Kies said other RRS technology has been used in the SALT telescope in Sutherland and the company has developed set-top box technology “which is ready to support government initiatives around terrestrial digital television migration. RRS contributed to the design and manufacture of the tracking system of one of the largest CPV [concentrated photovoltaics] renewable electricity plants in the world, the 50MW plant outside Touwsrivier.”
Alan Dickson CEO of parent company Reunert, said that Reutech possesses a world class portfolio, capabilities and intellectual property. After diversifying its revenue streams and launching its mining radar business, it is now the number two player in the world market for mining radars. Dickson said Reutech Radar Systems is a key player in Reunert’s business and Reunert continues to fund a lot of research and development on the radar front.
Peter van der Bijl, CEO of Reutech, said that defence business has been lean for the last nine years but he is looking forward to “seven fat defence years,” which will be underpinned by both local opportunities and improved international prospects.