Movement with Radiate?


Two requests for quotations related to the South African National Defence Force’s next generation of landward tactical communications systems, meaning HF and VHF radios, primarily for the SA Army, were recently issued. 

ETEL/2012/7, issued April 4, related to the “[d]evelopment and qualification of the tactical communications management system of Project Radiate – acquisition of a new communication system for the SANDF” while ETEL/2012/8, issued the next day, was for audio devices (headsets, handsets, microphones) “for the new tactical communications system”.

Progress on the project appears to be slow, but last year, the Armscor Bulletin System showed the SANDF in March investing R78 million in the development and industrialisation of a new high frequency (HF) radio system. It has previously been reported the SANDF has contracted Reutech Communications to produce for it a new family of fast frequency-hopping, digitally encrypted, software-defined radios (SDR). The contract includes the final development, “productionisation” and pre-production of a manpack as well as vehicle-mounted systems.”

Janes’ International Defence Review in 2010 reported the SDR grew out of an earlier software-defined demonstrator programme by the company “to assist in informing the specification of the SANDF’s network-enabled capability development programme.” Sources suggested to it Radiate then had a R154.2 million budget.

The Reutech contract seemingly concerns the very high frequency (VHF) portion of Radiate. The company website says the new “landward tactical VHF transceiver family brings cutting edge Digital Signal Processing (DSP) technology into the 21st Century battlefield”. Standard features include high level encryption, fast frequency hopping, state of the art digital modulation techniques,
data networking, intelligent Built in Testing (BIT), an onboard GPS receiver as well as software defined functionality for easy customisation/upgrades.

The website adds the vehicle-mounted VMT3 is designed to handle harsh co-siting interference. “Consequently, the VMT3 transceiver’s performance has been optimised to cater for multiple installations in the ever demanding and crowded Command and Control environment. Other standard features include rebroadcast, remote control, fill download and built-in loudspeaker. “In addition to standard modulation modes, advanced digital modulation techniques are also employed to yield enhanced performance.”

The manpack MPT3 “has been designed to deliver superior performance, even in the harshest environments.” It is fully compatible with the VMT3, offering all the same features but with lower output power. All radios in the range are equipped with data networking capabilities enabling high data throughput, fast turnaround time and a simple interface to external applications. “In order to facilitate customisation of and upgrades to radio functionality, updated software may be downloaded via an external connector on the front panel. At all times, backwards compatibility with the older generation family of transceivers is also provided.”

The Armscor FY2009/10 annual report averred Radiate was a “New Generation Tactical Communication System” addressing the acquisition of a complete new generation tactical communication system for the SANDF. “This system will make provision for all tactical communication requirements for all arms of service and will ensure interoperability between all users. The communication system will encompass state-of-the-art transmission and information security techniques, whilst incorporating semi-real-time data link performance characteristics as well as digital voice communication. Backwards compatibility to existing systems will be possible, utilizing an advanced management system. Interoperability between all elements of the battlefield (SA Air Force, SA Army, SA Navy, etc) will be possible without making use of gateways or protocol converters. It will be the first system in the world capable of total interoperability.
“The communication system will consist of seven subsystems, which will be contracted separately. During the reporting period, the development and industrialisation phases of the two major subsystems, the HF (high frequency) radio system and the V/UHF (very/ultra high frequency) radio system, have been contracted. The Allocated Baselines (ABL) for both systems have been successfully completed and full-scale development can now continue. The Development/Industrialisation is planned to be completed by February 2013.” The 2010/11 annual report, the most recent, contains a similar paragraph.

The SA Army and its sister services still use the A53 and A55 hardware-defined manpack VHF radios and their vehicle-mounted stablemates, the B57 and B56, in service since at least the mid-1970s. This was joined by the digital C21 HF radio in the 1990s.

Radiate is one of a series of related electronics projects, some completed and some underway at various level of funding. The exact status of most are unknown to defenceWeb but Project Billet relates to a semi-static infrastructure for the SANDF. The project was at “staff requirement” phase in April 2007. Domino is an upgrade of the Command Management Information Division’s information technology infrastructure. The first stage was the design set for completion by April 1, 2007 with the second stage – implementation – set for completion by April 1, 2008. Project Chamber is a tactical electronic warfare (EW) capability for the SANDF. The staff target was approved in November 2006 with a functional study due mid-2007. At the time there was a R110 million budget. Indications are budget shortfalls have kept the project at prototype phase.

Related is the SA Army’s Project Filosoof, a landward EW system for 2 Signal Regiment. This was completed in 2001. Project Legend is currently in implementation and amounts to the Army and Joint Operations Division’s first digital wireless command-and-control-information system at the platoon to brigade level.

As such, it is designed to also integrate into the SA Air Force’s integrated airspace control system implemented between 1983 and 1995, reportedly as Projects Janitor and Bedmaker. Known as SA SCADS (SA Surveillance Control & Air Defence System), it comprises command-and-control (C2), as well as radar, remotely-operated HF, VHF, UHF radio for low-level in-flight C2. Another completed SAAF project is Enlace, the development and production of the ACR500-series VHF/UHF radio for the service. It is currently used on all SAAF aircraft.

Continuation of the third generation radio concept in V/UHF transceivers – extension of ETEL/2007/242

TEL/S2010/3991 17 Feb 2011 R1 438 787,55 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

TEL/S2009/3925 28 Jan 2010 R414,48? Reutech Communications (Pty) Ltd

TEL/S2008/3733 28 Aug 2008 R103 682,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

TEL/S2007/3702 6 Mar 2008 R120 870,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Maintenance and support of high frequency tactical radio communication equipment for the SA Army – extension of ELGS/2009/36

LGS/S2010/4560 27 Jan 2011 R365 270,42 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

LGS/S2009/4286 17 Mar 2010 R727 426,00 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Procurement of B46 thick film hybrids spares

ELGS/2010/88 8 Sep 2010 R2 473 985,00 Reutech Solutions (Pty) Ltd t/a RDL

Development and industrialization of the personal role radio communication system

ETEL/2009/376 10 Jun 2010 R17 978 607,00 Natcom Electronics (Pty) Ltd

Development and industrialization of high frequency radio systems – extension of ETEL/2008/160

TEL/S2009/3919 10 Mar 2010 R78 057 455,00 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd
32k Bit implementation of combat net interoperability standard DL/PL on 3rd Generation Radio Concept

ETEL/2009/159 12 Nov 2009 R1 445 923,83 Reutech Communications (Pty) Ltd

Combat net interoperability standard tasks: Development of software and supporting tasks

ETEL/2009/148 12 Nov 2009 R12 784 877,46 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Tactical communications management research – continuation of existing work

ETEL/2009/242 12 Nov 2009 R2 574 369,45 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Development and industrialization of the very and ultra high frequency radio component – extension of ETEL/2008/110

TEL/S2009/3827 5 Nov 2009 R932 646,50 Reutech Communications (Pty) Ltd

Maintenance and support of very high frequency tactical radio communication equipment for the SA Army signal formation

ELGS/2008/466 27 Aug 2009 R48 836 184,96 Reutech Solutions (Pty) Ltd

Maintenance and support of high frequency tactical radio communication equipment for the South African Army signal formation

ELGS/2009/36 13 Aug 2009 R30 504 169,00 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Product output support of the high frequency tactical radio communication equipment for the SA Army – extension of ELGS/2004/639

LGS/S2008/3925 12 Jun 2009 R2 556 959,50 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Product output support of very high frequency tactical radio communication equipment – extension of ELGS/2004/640

LGS/S2009/3982 8 May 2009 R3 229 071,00 Reutech Solutions (Pty) Ltd t/a RDL

LGS/S2008/3750 24 Jul 2008 R3 592 884,21 Reutech Solutions (Pty) Ltd t/a RDL

Tactical HF radio technology tasks – extension of ETEL/2006/519

TEL/S2008/3785 12 Feb 2009 R179 449,34 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Development and industrialization of the very ultra high frequency radio system of radiate

ETEL/2008/110 22 Dec 2008 R130 000 000,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Development and industrialization of the high frequency radio system of tactical combat net radios

ETEL/2008/160 22 Dec 2008 R10 037 347,00 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Development of interfaces and field evaluation – extension of ETEL/2006/242

TEL/S2007/3674 6 Mar 2008 R409 310,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Development of a new electronic counter measure for V/UHF application – extension of ETEL/2006/243

TEL/S2007/3703 6 Mar 2008 R582 540,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Combat net interoperability standard taks: 32 Bit implementation of CNIS DL/PL on 3rd generation radio concept

ETEL/2007/310 18 Dec 2007 R567 640,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Development of a vehicle applique for V/UHF man portable radios

ETEL/2007/246 29 Nov 2007 R2 992 935,00 RDI Communications (Pty) Ltd

Maintenance and support services of proprietary communication and data links systems for the SA Army – extension of ELGS/2006/122

LGS/S2007/3570 18 Oct 2007 R219 298,25 RDL Technologies (Pty) Ltd

Tactical HF radio technology

ETEL/2006/519 22 Feb 2007 R7 073 860,24 SAAB Grintek Defence (Pty) Ltd

Maintenance and support of the very high frequency tactical communication equipment – extension of ELGS/2002/702

LGS/S2006/3293 24 Jan 2007 R60 000,00 RDL Technologies (Pty) Ltd