Aug 31, 2012
Continuous innovation to ensure SA’s radar, electronic warfare technology remain world classBack
South Africa|Radar Equipment|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
Other Defence News
South African missile, unmanned air vehicle and space technology company Denel Dynamics has determined that an innovation in its annual engineering internship programme, introduced this year, has been a great success. This was the fifth year the company has run the...
A joint venture (JV) company created by South Africa’s Denel defence industrial group and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) group Tawazun has won a R5-billion contract for precision guided munition (PGM) systems for the UAE Air Force. The JV is Tawazun Dynamics and it...
On June 14, 2013, the first example of European manufacturer Airbus’ latest airliner family, the twin-engined wide body A350 XWB, made its maiden flight from Toulouse Blagnac airport in south west France. (Throughout this story, the name Airbus means the airliner...
Updated 6 hours ago Despite an uptick in year-on-year manufacturing output, the outlook for the manufacturing sector remained subdued, banking group Nedbank’s economic unit said on Tuesday. Against the market consensus of a 2.1% contraction and a 3.3% decline in September, Statistics...
Updated 7 hours ago Airline passenger demand was expected to rise more than 30% in the next four years, the latest report by the International Air Transport Association (Iata) revealed on Tuesday. The Iata Airline Industry Forecast 2013 to 2017 showed that, by 2017, there would be a...
Updated 7 hours ago Following her surprise resignation earlier this week, ArcelorMittal South Africa CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita has been appointed chairperson and nonexecutive director of the JSE, replacing outgoing chairperson Humphrey Borkum. Nyembezi-Heita, who had served as...
Recent Research Reports
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
Road and Rail 2013: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2013 Report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Liquid Fuels 2013 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Liquid Fuels report examines South Africa’s liquid fuels market, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing,...
Projects in Progress - Second Edition (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s second Projects in Progress supplement considers some of the major project developments under way, including high-profile energy and transport projects, as well as a few of the lower-profile public and private developments. What remains apparent is...
Water 2013: A review of South Africa’s water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2013 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
Canadian Mining Roundup for June 2013 (PDF Report)
The June 2013 roundup includes details of the development of TSX-V-listed Aldridge Minerals’ flagship Yenipazar polymetallic project, in Turkey; the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s renewal of Cameco’s uranium mining licence pertaining to the Cigar Lake...
This Week's Magazine
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) has introduced a 4x2 derivative of its Pajero Sport sports-utility vehicle (SUV), which will give it access to a substantial slice of the full-size SUV market, where it will compete with the likes of the Ford Everest, Chevrolet...
South African Energy Minister Ben Martins has affirmed that the government wants the country to be globally competitive in the nuclear sector. "Our responsibility has always been ... to ensure that, in nuclear energy, South Africa can compete with the rest of the...
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) president and CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann describes the new S-Class as “a special place to be”, with the car creating a sense of “wellness” once you are seated inside the German brand’s flagship model. It is difficult to argue...
Water scarcity and water-quality issues are broadly recognised and understood in most political, business and civil organisations in South Africa, but solving water issues will require wide and continuous action in catchments and municipalities by organisations and...
Work is well under way on the R212-million Imvutshane dam, 30 km north-west of Stanger, in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key link in supplying people in rural Maphumulo with a reliable source of safe drinking water.