SA Army to receive new VHF radios


The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has contracted Reutech Communications to produce for it a new family of fast frequency-hopping, digitally encrypted, software-defined radios (SDR).

Th contract, part of Project Radiate, a landward tactical communications programme, includes the final development, “productionisation” and pre-production of a manpack as well as vehicle-mounted systems.

Janes’ International Defence Review last year 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 suggest Radiate is a R154.2 million project.

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 Test (BIT)

Onboard GPS receiver

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 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.