Navy contracts for new frigate optical radar trackers


The South African Navy has awarded Reutech Radar Systems a R8.417 million contract to research and development a replacement optical radar tracker (ORT) for the sea service’s Valour-class frigates. Each of the four in commission is fitted with one ORT and one electro-optical tracker (EOT). The contract follows a R1.995 million contract awarded in January.

The company declined to comment on the nature of the work, but defence analyst Helmoed-Römer Heitman says the deal is probably “partly an upgrade and partly a replacement of the laser range-finders, which I gather did not perform as well as hoped. That is an issue of which frequency is best in the most likely conditions.”

RRS on its website notes the tracker, designated the RTS 6400, is a 60km instrumented-range monopulse X-band combined radar and optronics tracking system using a wide-band, high stability Travelling Wave Tube AmplIfier (TWTA) and advanced Doppler signal processing. “The system currently forms a key element of the [frigate] combat suite, for which eight systems have been delivered into service. The system has been produced using expertise gained in the development of the ETS 2400 short range Ka-band optronics radar tracker.
“The highly modular nature of the design allows adaptation for alternative configurations of optronic sensor, as well as operation at other radar frequencies. This capability makes the system eminently suited for all naval fire control applications. Typical sensor configurations include a Ku-band radar frequency option, dual field of view 3-5 µm or 8-12 µm Thermal Imaging Sensors, high repetition rate Laser range-finders and dual field of view daylight cameras. The system is also adaptable to support semi-active homing missiles, and may be supplied with or without a dedicated console. The system is able to perform in hostile ECM environments due to a comprehensive ECCM suite.”

Janes International Defence Review reported in 1996 that RRS initially developed the system as part of a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) technology-retention project. It was intended to control both anti-aircraft and anti-surface weapons in medium- and close-range engagements. “It is cued by an action information system via a combat system highway – a fibre-distributed data interface – and will acquire and track automatically with the radar. Operator override is possible at all times. It can also be used in an autonomous surveillance mode and has secondary search capability against missiles and – using a helical scan – aircraft. The system is designed to detect low-flying aircraft at 25km and sea-skimming missiles beyond 16km. The acquisition time is less than 2s with a tracking accuracy of less than 1.5mrad in angles and approximately 5m in range.”

Research and development of replacement Reutech Radar Systems optical radar tracker technologies

ERES/2010/491 19 May 2011 R8 417 293,41 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd

Research and development of replacement optical radar tracker synthesizer and transmit receive limiter

ERES/2010/349 27 Jan 2011 R1 995 994,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd

Procurement of frigate small guided spares – frigate tracker system

EMTM/2007/578 8 May 2008 R3 351 000,00 Reutech Radar Systems (Pty) Ltd