The South African Army will this afternoon officially receive its new tactical intelligence system acquired over the last several years under Project Cytoon.
The SA Army Tactical Intelligence Corps last year began operational testing and evaluation of the system that was project managed by Thales South Africa. A company spokesman last July said testing had begun in August 2010 and was by September “going fairly well.”
Project Cytoon will see the gain 14 Thales Squire ground surveillance radars, 65 Thales Sophie thermal imagers, processors and communications equipment as part of a battlefield surveillance and mobile intelligence processing system. “Thales has teamed up with various local and international partners whose products have also been integrated,” the company said at the Africa Aerospace & Defence exhibition in Cape Town in September. “The system has been designed to address the exclusive intelligence requirements of the SANDF, and in doing so established a unique state of the art intelligence gathering system. Project Cytoon has been completed and is ready for commissioning into the SANDF. Operational field tests are being conducted at this moment where-after the SANDF will receive the system. The system will be complemented soon with the delivery of a training system to support the specific training needs of the South African Army Intelligence Formation.”
The cost of the programme is not in the public domain but was at least R137 246 961.00 by July last year.
Battlefield surveillance radars are used to detect and classify moving ground targets, typically up to 20km to 30km. Additionally, they assist artillery and mortar units by giving feedback on shell impact. Besides battlefield use, these radars can also be deployed in peacetime to safeguard high-value area assets such as oilfields, power stations and grids, as well as other important potential targets for terrorist or criminal acts.
Battlefield surveillance radars also assist in counter-drug operations and monitoring illegal border crossings. As an example, the Thales Squire man-portable system, which was ordered for Cytoon, can plot a pedestrian at 10km, a vehicle at 21km, a tank at 28km, a helicopter at 21km, a boat at 12km and a ship at 48km, Thales avers. Because it uses a frequency modulated continuous wave Doppler radar, the Squire is also virtually undetectable to hostile electronic warfare experts, it adds.
Thermal imagers detect radiation in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Since most objects emit such radiation, thermal imagers allow their users to “see” their surroundings with or without visible light. The warmer the object, the brighter the object appears in the imager. Humans, with an internal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius tend to stand out against their surroundings, which are mostly cooler. This also allows thermal imagers to spot camouflaged targets. Many modern thermal imagers include an eye-safe laser rangefinder and pointer, a compass, GPS and digital camera. The Thales Sophie can spot humans at over 4km, tanks at 10km, helicopters at 12km and jet fighters at 16km, Thales says.