SA Army to test Arthur

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Saab and Tellumat Defence will next month demonstrate the battle-tested ARTillery Hunting Radar (Arthur) to the SA Army.
Arthur was on display at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) expo, in Cape Town last week.
The system is in operational use in Afghanistan and Iraq, both in support of field operations and for the protection of base camps.
Colin Meintjes, Tellumat Defence managing executive for the group`s Northern South African region, says: “Arthur has been lauded as a ‘decisive battle asset` and ‘one of the most valuable battlefield ground sensors` for its significant achievements in hostile environments, pin-point assessment of impact and launch locations, and best-in-class area coverage.
“It is said to have saved the lives of numerous soldiers faced with enemy mortar, rocket and cannon fire,” he adds, saying that Arthur can also be used in peacetime operations, including large events such as the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Meintjes says Arthur uses microprocessors to detect the launch of a range of missiles and projectiles in a fraction of a second and at the same time accurately determines both the launch and impact points.
This is then communicated to a command centre that can warn troops near the point of impact of the impending attack while also alerting artillery or ground attack aircraft of the firing position for counter-fire.
Real-world track record
Saab officials say the system has built up a reputation for reliability in the five years it has been operationally deployed. The mean time between failures is 500 hours and the mean time between critical failures is 1 800 hours. The officials, speaking at AAD, claimed the comparable time for a US system also in service in south Asia is 50 hours. The assertion could not be independently verified.
The officials add the system integrates seamlessly with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) such as the ATE Vulture now in SA Artillery service. In Iraq and Afghanistan UAS – computer-controlled robotic airplanes – are used to verify the conditions on the ground before fire is returned.
Insurgents in both countries often fire on US and allied forces from schoolyards and other cultural or populated sites that if damaged by return fire can be exploited for propaganda purposes. That is also the case with civilian casualties.
Where counter-fire is impossible, the officials say, routine procedure is to use the robot plane to track the insurgents after they complete their fire mission and leave the area.
They can then be intercepted by ground troops, engaged by artillery fire or even be destroyed by air attack, from either manned fighters and helicopter gunships or unmanned “hunter killer” UAS such as the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ9 Reaper.
The SA Army currently has no system in this class in service. It acquired the Cymbeline mortar location radar and Green Archer artillery location systems in the 1950s, and used them up to about the 1980s. They were – for reasons that cannot be established – not replaced on retirement. One Green Archer is currently on display as an exhibit at the SA Air Force Museum, in Pretoria.
Arthur essentials
  • Detection range
    • Cannons 31km
    • Mortars 55km
    • Rockets 53km
  • Accuracy – 0.1% to 0.25% of projectile range
  • Capacity – 100 targets per minute
  • Operation – single operator or remote-controlled; in 24×7 operation, three operators and one driver
  • Dimensions
    • Weight: 7 000 kilograms
    • Length: 7.07 metres
    • Breadth: 2.02 metres
    • Height: 2.75 metres
  • Six-channel communications with command & control, other radars, medical contingent, UAS, etc.
  • Vehicle-mounted