Norway selects local company


Reutech`s radars are to be fitted to Norwegian Aegis frigates.Stellenbosch-based Reutech Radar Systems (RRS), in conjunction with its Norwegian partner Electronicon AS, is building the Royal Norwegian Navy five software-based radars, at a cost of R150 million, to equip that country`s new Fridtjof Nansen-class frigates.

The ships carry the US Aegis air defence system that arguably places the Nansen-class among the most sophisticated IT-driven warships built. The Aegis system provides ships with the ability to defend themselves and other nearby vessels from aircraft and missile attack. The system can protect cities against ballistic missiles through its software`s ability to track missiles and plot a physical impact point.

RRS is part of the Reunert Group and won the four-year contract from the Norwegian Defence Procurement Division (NDPD) in the face of stiff competition. RRS says its RSR 210N surveillance radar will supplement the frigate`s SPY1F Aegis radar and computer complex and support helicopter operations from the vessel.

“The RSR 210N meets NDPD requirements and will improve the Nansen-class helicopter control capability in adverse weather conditions,” says Captain Nils Andreas Stensønes, the frigate programme`s project manager.

RRS introduced the RSR 210N to the market in October 2005. “Highly successful demonstrations” followed in February 2007, with the system being shown to the SA Navy and others. “These trials demonstrated RSR 210N`s superior performance in the detection of both air and surface targets under adverse environmental conditions,” RRS export systems business development manager Anthony Green says.

Significant achievement

“Selection of the RSR 210N radar, by a leading NATO Navy, represents a significant achievement for South African and Norwegian industries,” RRS and Electronicon added in a joint statement to mark the Norwegian order. “We expect that this win will secure the product`s position in the world market.”

“There has already been considerable interest in the product from other international, as well as South African, users and we expect follow-on orders as a result of the success in Norway,” Green says. Norway is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) member and NATO navies are discriminating about what they use. It is not an easy market to break into, he adds. “And it certainly raises your profile.”

Once built, the radars will be installed on the frigates and will undergo rigorous acceptance tests, both alongside harbours and at sea. The deal also requires RRS to provide logistics and spares and training, as well as documentation – to maintain and properly use the system.

Green says the RSR210N reflects the current state of the art. “Ten years ago, the functionality lay in the hardware. The functionality now lies in the software, in a single-board commercial-off-the-shelf computer (COTS) rather than a box of hardware cards. This approach makes upgrading the signal and data processing simple and cheap and also guards against system obsolescence. COTS computers are easy to replace and drive down cost, allowing us to bid a competitive price.”

RRS has also supplied eight RTS 6400 tracking radars, which are already in service aboard the SA Navy`s Valour-Class frigates.

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