Tellumat supports Ecuador

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 21 May 2008

Specialised South African ICT company Tellumat is doing a thriving business in Ecuador on the back of a successful radar upgrade done for the SA Air Force (SAAF), says managing executive for defence Colin Meintjes.

His company is supporting the Latin American nation's two ex-Plessey AR3D air defence radar systems. It is negotiating a long-term maintenance contract worth millions of rands, in addition to supplying spares and doing a number of repairs - deals also worth millions of rands in foreign exchange.

Meintjes says the SAAF bought 10 of the transportable radars in 1981 and Tellumat, formerly part of Plessey, upgraded six in 1995 as part of an industrial participation offset.

"The upgrade was extremely successful and we then said we wanted to move into the export market because Plessey had sold these radars worldwide and we add the skills and a competitive, locally-developed upgrade package," says Meintjes.

"We then received an order from Ecuador to upgrade their two radars, which we duly did. But BAE Systems (as Plessey was by then) had problems handing over the radars to the Ecuadorian Air Force when the upgrade was complete, sometime after we had done our work...

"Two years go they asked us to help and we put a team together and went to Ecuador and recommissioned the systems and helped the British flight trial the systems and they were then both successfully accepted," Meintjes says.

"That was really a feather in SA's cap and we are now negotiating with them for long-term support to keep these radars going for at least another five to 10 years."

Meintjes adds the Ecuadorian budget for the first five years is $10 million.

"As we speak, they've sent quite a bit for repairs here, worth quite a bit of money for us... millions of rands of business... in spares, repairs, support work and further upgrades.

"Their new air force commander has written us a letter to say he is keen to work with Tellumat to support these radars," he adds.

Ecuador was, in March, caught unaware by Colombia when the latter sent aircraft and ground troops to root out narco-guerrillas within the northern jungles of the latter, partly because of the region's patchy radar coverage.

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