Tellumat eyes more defence work

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 26 May 2008

Tellumat has its eye on several pending and prospective military contracts, including several to improve the SA National Defence Force`s radar networks.

The company recently upgraded the SA Air Force`s transportable long-range radar network, consisting of about six Plessey "Umlindi" AR3D sets, under the multimillion-rand Project Rossma. It is now looking forward to their eventual replacement as part of Project Chutney.

Tellumat managing executive for defence Colin Meintjes says Rossma 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 project wound up at the end of last year.

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 which will see the army adopt the short- to medium-range air defence Umkhonto and AWSAM (all-weather surface-to-air missile) missiles. The missile will require radar guidance and Tellumat will push the Saab Giraffe radar system.

The Tellumat defence chief says a Giraffe system visited SA recently for a SA-German navy 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 currently has no capability in this area.

"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."

Related stories:
Tellumat supports Ecuador
Denel improves AWSAM missile
SA to fly Erieye?