Reutech progressing with Project Radiate

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Reutech Communications is ready to begin full-scale production of new-generation radios for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as part of Project Radiate and is ready to commence first deliveries next year.

Reutech offers a wide variety of military radios for ground, sea and air applications. Anthony Jones, Technical Sales and Marketing at Reutech Communications, said that the company is in the pre-production phase and ready to start production of the new generation radios for Project Radiate. This encompasses short, medium and long range communication systems, such as the V/UHF MCR3005, the VHF MCR2005 manpack system, the MCR1025 HF manpack, the vehicular V/UHF VCR2050 and VCR3020 radios and the HF VCR1100. The FCR5050, HF FCR1100, PCR4001 and VCR4001 radios will follow at a later stage.

The first phase of Radiate deliveries should take place in 2013 – these will involve vehicle and manpack radios. The other radios will gradually be phased in over several years. Since the new radios are backward compatible with old sets, they can be phased in smoothly.

All Reutech’s landward radios are Link-ZA compatible and feature encryption, frequency hopping and an onboard GPS receiver for situational awareness. The radios Reutech is supplying to the SANDF as part of Radiate were designed as a family from the start for ease of use across all systems in terms of logistics and human-machine interface functionality.

Around 4 000 vehicle radios will be produced for Project Radiate, and similar numbers of manpack radios will be produced. Around a thousand radios will be delivered every year.

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. “Current radios are very old,” Jones said, adding that the SANDF’s new radios would bring it on par with Western standards.

Reutech has been working on Project Radiate for quite some time and has built a new factory in Durban to supply the radios.

The whole range was on display at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition. Jones said that Reutech had received many queries during the show, especially from African countries and armoured vehicle manufacturers.

Airborne radios are a niche, and are generally sold with a platform once qualified on it. The company has built around a thousand airborne radios, including for the South African Air Force’s Gripen and Hawk aircraft. Around half of its orders go to the SANDF and half to foreign customers.

The ground radio market is more competitive, however. Nevertheless, Reutech has delivered radios for Project Hoefyster, the SANDF’s infantry fighting vehicle programme that has resulted in the Badger vehicle. This is, according to Reutech, potentially big business for the next decade.