SharpEye radars to be fitted to SA Navy’s new inshore patrol vessels


SharpEye radar systems will be fitted to the three new Multi-Mission Inshore Patrol Vessels (MMIPVs) being built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town for the South African Navy under Project Biro.

Hensoldt UK (previously Kelvin Hughes) on 2 June announced that the Kelvin Hughes Mk 11 S and X band radars will be used to provide a navigation and surface surveillance capability. The solid-state SharpEye features digital pulse compression and Doppler processing of the radar returns, allowing it to detect objects with a low radar cross section, from semi-submersed objects to the smallest of uncooperative craft, even in the most severe of weather conditions, according to the manufacturer. A key benefit of the Kelvin Hughes radar system is its ability to provide a Helicopter Control and Tracking capability which satisfies the requirements of flight safety.

The solid-state SharpEye transceivers are located upmast in the carbon composite turning unit housing and bring additional benefits such as ease of installation and high reliability, Hensoldt said, adding the use of a direct drive motor system, rather than a traditional antenna rotator gearbox, reduces maintenance costs.

The SharpEye Mk 11 radars are approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and are installed in conjunction with an OSI integrated navigation bridge system. SharpEye radars are in service with some 30 navies.

Kelvin Hughes in 2016 installed and commissioned a SharpEye radar system onto the South African Navy’s fleet replenishment ship SAS Drakensberg. The purchase order was placed in July 2013, while sea acceptance tests were carried out in January 2016.

Adrian Pilbeam, Head of Sales, Maritime Surveillance, stated “Hensoldt UK are pleased to supply the South African Navy with further SharpEye radars to assist in the demanding operational tasks. This continues the longstanding relationship for the supply of radar sensors to OSI Maritime Systems for integration into their bridge systems.”

OSI Maritime Systems in October 2020 completed First Article Acceptance Tests for its Integrated Bridge System and Mission Management System for Project Biro. OSI is fitting the IPVs with a navigation and tactical suite that includes OSI’s ECPINS (Electronic Chart Precise Integrated Navigation System), Tactical Asset Control and Tracking (T-ACT), and Integrated Mission Management System (IMMS). ECPINS, OSI’s proprietary Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System (WECDIS), is fully integrated into critical sensor inputs including X-band and S-band radars, magnetic compass, gyrocompass, W-AIS transponder, Inertial Navigation System, Optical Bearing Device, and a GPS module, OSI said.

Reutech, meanwhile, is supplying 20 mm Super Sea Rogue turrets with Denel GI2 cannons, RTS 3200 Optronics Radar Tracker (FORT) systems and communications systems for Project Biro. The RTS 3200 is a light-weight combined radar and electro-optic tracker ideally suited for operation on smaller naval combat vessels.

The keel of the first Biro vessel was laid in February 2019 and the second keel was laid in August 2020. The first vessel was launched at the end of March this year in Cape Town – deliveries of all three inshore patrol vessels are expected between 2021 and 2023. They will be based at Naval Base Durban.

The 62 x 11 metre vessels are built according to the patented Damen Axe Bow design, which ensures low resistance, high sustained speed in waves and superior sea keeping characteristics in tough conditions.

The MMIPVs, built to the Stan Patrol 6211 design, have a maximum speed of 26.5 knots, a range of 4 000 nautical miles, and a crew of up to 62. The vessels will each carry one 7 metre long RHIB and one 9 metre long RHIB for boarding operations.

The new vessels will augment South Africa’s maritime security by enhancing the country’s capability to respond effectively, rapidly and cost-effectively to threats such as illegal trafficking and fishing along the country’s 2 850 kilometre coastline and 1.5 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ).