Gripen pilots visit CSIR on technology update mission


While flying hours have been cut across the board in the SA Air Force (SAAF), this has not stopped the Gripen pilots of 2 Squadron from keeping abreast of technology developments.

After attending a CSIR Defence and Security technology seminar, squadron boss Lieutenant Colonel Musa Mbhokota decided it was time for his pilots to gain some first-hand insight into the electronic defence evaluation and research capabilities at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
“This gave pilots and engineers the opportunity to discuss operational needs and how best to match these to technology know-how,” said Herman le Roux, research group leader in smart systems at the CSIR.

Domains covered during the intensive two-day technology workshop included concept air defence suppression weapons, future anti-radiation weapons, optronics countermeasures, tactical data links and radar target recognition of aircraft. The group from AFB Makhado was also given a demonstration of the Gripen mission control simulator and motion simulation. These are unique systems developed by the CSIR.

The session covered both current-day and future technology trends and changing threats. This provided the attendees with a better understanding of their own capabilities which can be implemented or adapted to continue the tasks of peace enforcement and support.

Colonel George Muller, senior staff officer at Aerospace Technology, said the session was an opportunity to discuss priority needs within the squadron – and ways to address these needs with “rigour and a growing mutual understanding of the challenges”.
“It is evident there is a need to regularly schedule work group sessions in the near future and the scope should include other operational domains within the SAAF,” Muller said.

The CSIR has already received requests from other groups in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to schedule technical work groups with the CSIR.
“Technical work groups are important platforms because of the knowledge transfer that is possible during these sessions. It was an eye-opener for the pilots to see and learn more about the level of technical capability they have access to at the CSIR. And the level of engagement between the groups will bring great benefit as we co-create the tools and systems our defence force needs,” le Roux said.