SAAF supporting mobile radars


Tellumat Defence has recently been awarded a R42 900 contract for “limited product supply” for the South African Air Force’s mobile three-dimensional Plessey AR3D “Umlindi” air defence radar systems. A reading of the Armscor bulletin system shows similar work worth R41 281 800 has been awarded the company since September 2008.

The SAAF operates six AR3D radars, upgraded under Project Rossma at an undisclosed cost, said to be in the “multimillion” range. The project was completed in late 2007. Tellumat in a statement in November 2008 said it had been awarded a R41 million, five-year, deal to provide maintenance services for the AR-3D. It added it had by then been servicing the system for over 10 years. “This extension shows the air force is happy with the service we’ve been providing,” said Colin Meintjes, managing executive at Tellumat Defence. “I think our radar expertise and competitive solutions put us ahead of any competitors.” In terms of the deal, Tellumat will provide a repair service at its resident depot at a Pretoria air base, call-out repairs to fixed and mobile air force sites, and re-design and fitment of system components.

The contract also sets out service requirements, which will see Tellumat provide training on the system, support with fault repairs and assistance with materials procurement. “We have established a relationship over the years with the air force – which is really a partnership – and this new contract shows how far our relationship has come,” said Meintjies. With three static and one mobile SAAF site, Tellumat will drive call-out personnel to meet its service obligations.

Meintjes, in an interview earlier in 2008 said his company had upgraded the radars` displays and processors, “replacing important parts of the system with a new processor suite, state-of-the-art technical monitor workstations, custom-written software, servers and a converged TCP/IP network.

The AR3D will eventually replaced by a new system as part of Project Chutney.

Tellumat also recently snatched a maintenance contract for the SAAF`s airfield radar approach systems. The deal will see the company maintain the radars, which help pilots land at night and in bad weather, for five years. It is likely the radars will then be replaced and a project, code-named Bandit, has been registered to study the requirement.

Meintjes also has his eye on Phase Two of the SA Army`s ground-based air defence system (GBADS), Project Protector, which will see the land service adopt the short range (12km) air defence Denel Dynamics Umkhonto missile. The missile will require radar guidance and Tellumat will push the Saab Giraffe radar system, Meintjes said in the 2008 interview.

The Tellumat defence chief says a Giraffe system visited SA earlier that year for Good Hope III, a SA-German naval exercise off Cape Town. Afterwards it was taken to Pretoria and tested there. “People were very impressed with Giraffe`s performance. We could see all the air traffic in and out of Lanseria, OR Tambo and Air Force Base Swartkops.”

Giraffe can also be used to track artillery and mortar fire, says Meintjes, as it now incorporates software developed for the Saab Arthur artillery location radar. These have become vital in Iraq and Afghanistan – not only to determine where a bombardment is coming from, but also where it is likely to impact. The SA Army has not had a capability in this area for several decades – a puzzling lacunae.
“What Saab has done is to adapt software written for Arthur and put that into Giraffe, making that a multifunction radar. It can do air traffic control, it can do battlefield surveillance and it can track mortar and artillery fire. Meintjes adds that most modern radars are now software-driven and are essentially specialised data processors. “These days the important thing is the software that makes the signal processor work the way you want it to.”