Aug 30, 2012
Continuous innovation to ensure SA’s radar, electronic warfare technology remain world classBack
Africa|Aircraft|Building|Design|Environment|Industrial|PROJECT|Projects|System|Systems|Testing|Africa|South Africa|Equipment|Radar Equipment|Systems|Wideband Real-time Signal Processing|Danny Naicker|Johann De Jager|Klasie Olivier|Warren |ADC|DRFM Technology|FPGA|Improving Radar Technology|Microwave|Radar Technologies|Radar Technology|Radio Frequency
© Reuse this
Radar and EW systems detect, track, measure, identify, protect and implement counter- measures for sensors operating in the microwave spectrum, CSIR principal systems engineer of experimental EW systems Klasie Olivier explains.
The CSIR’s EW team uses its DRFM technology for testing and evaluating EW and radar equipment in support of industrial and scienti- fic development on its own, as well as in partner- ship with principals from the public and private sectors, in line with the CSIR’s mandate.
“We have our own in-house radar development capability and we assist our radar colleagues by testing radars and assisting with radar development,” Olivier states.
“Currently, we are evaluating the typical performance specifications of the DRFM bandwidth and developing the next generation of DRFM, for which we are aiming towards 2 GHz instantaneous bandwidth – a significant improvement on the current 800 MHz,” says Olivier.
“We aim to complete this concept demonstrator by the second quarter of 2013.”
DRFM technology has continuously been improved to ensure its effectiveness, says CSIR EW team applications principal engineer Warren du Plessis.
The most significant improvement made to this technology since its inception in the 1980s has been the addition of a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) to the DRFM data path in 2007, which allows wideband real-time signal processing.
“This was a revolutionary improvement, as it made the technology more versatile,” Du Plessis notes, adding that EW researchers are constantly improving the technology to ensure its competitiveness.
When a radar sends out a pulse to monitor the external environment, such as the ocean surrounding a ship, that pulse can be captured by another vessel through the use of DRFM. It can then be manipulated and sent back to the radar.
The radar then performs processing on the received pulse, which assists in identifying whether a possible target, such as a ship or a helicopter, is nearby or approaching.
“Radar technology is well advanced and radar experts can provide the speed and distance of a target, depending on the information it receives back from the pulse it emitted,” De Jager states.
DRFM technology captures the pulses emitted by radars, digitises the information with an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) and then manipulates the data so that the information received by a radar will not reveal the actual target’s position and other characteristics.
“We can process the captured information and manipulate the radar pulse to represent what we want it to represent so that the radar under evaluation will see only what we simulate,” he notes.
When a radar operator looks at the display of the manipulated pulse, he or she will not be able to tell that the image on display is only a simulated one and not the actual one. For example, the operator will think it is a real target that is moving away when it is actually approaching.
However, as a result of modern technology, radar can detect whether a DRFM system is creating a target by analysing the pulse it receives, says CSIR systems engineer of radar and EW systems Danny Naicker.
As a result, when we capture a pulse transmitted by radar, we have to make the image we want the pulse to project as realistic as possible.
Actual targets, such as ships or aircraft, produce radar cross section fluctuations and we need to replicate that phenomenon by using complex-scatterer technology so that the pulse we send back to the radar projects a realistic target, he explains.
“This is why technological improvement is critical in areas such as ADCs and firmware development on FPGAs,” Naicker stresses.
“It is a cat-and-mouse game. Radar researchers keep improving radar technology, which enables them to increase their sense of awareness, and the EW researchers keep improving our DRFM technology to provide an acceptable return signal to the radar for detection purposes, but which may be a false return in terms of the real position or other characteristics of the target of interest,” says Olivier.
Further, De Jager states that the CSIR holds a major advantage over global competitors because its EW and radar teams are situated in the same building. This allows researchers and engineers to adapt, compete and compare DRFM and radar technologies, while working together in ensuring that South Africa’s technology base remains among the best in the world.
“Mixed signal design is challenging, as you are mixing sensitive analogue and noisy digital signals on the same hardware platform, says Naicker, adding that the CSIR’s DRFM technology has evolved to being more than a typical DRFM.
The technology has been adapted and advanced to work as an EW receiver, a radar transmitter, a DRFM and a radar, he explains.
“The main limit with this technology is your imagination,” Du Plessis states.
CSIR Supporting the MeerKAT
The CSIR performed the characterisation of the ADC, providing the team with an evaluation performed at the intended sampling speed it would use in determining the attain- able performance levels of the eventual system.
With the measured results in hand, the SKA team had the necessary confidence to proceed with designing this ADC for integration into the MeerKAT, the CSIR states.
The MeerKAT is a midfrequency radio telescope and is considered a forerunner to the SKA. It will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the southern hemisphere until the SKA is completed by about 2024.
Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online
Other Defence News
Article contains comments
The heads of leading technology companies will on Tuesday join the cosmologist Stephen Hawking, the cognitive scientist Noam Chomski and a host of the world’s leading artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers in calling for an international ban on the...
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has, following Cabinet approval, rotated the board of State-owned aerospace and defence technology conglomerate Denel. Brown appointed Daniel Mantsha – an attorney with experience in corporate finance, transactional advising,...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2015 (PDF Report)
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2015 (PDF Report)
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2015 (PDF Report)
This Week's Magazine
Daimler truck test engineer Dirk Stranz pushes one button, and then retracts his hands from the steering wheel of the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. “And now the truck is driving itself.”
The statutory body responsible for skills development and support in the banking sector, BANKSETA, was investing R68-million in the capacity building project of the University of Venda (UniVen), announced Bankseta company secretary Caroline King at a media event in...
Legacy information technology (IT) systems are becoming increasingly obsolete because of the maturity, efficiencies and cost effectiveness of cloud-based IT services, says information and communication technology major T-Systems subsidiary Intervate head Lionel...
Many complementary services enable companies to derive broad value from data inside and outside them. The complexity of data management means that companies’ strategies determine the various data systems and functions they will use, says PBT Group regional sales...
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has announced that it had awarded the country’s first remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) pilot’s licence. It was issued on Friday, July 10, to SACAA employee and qualified commercial pilot Nicole Swart,...