Once a year the little “Aardvarkie” puts on its flippers and head down to the picturesque Cape Town. It was time for the 16th Mini Aardvark Roost Conference hosted by IMT, Simon’s Town.
IMT has a long standing relationship with the Aardvark Roost and their willingness to support and promote the EW effort in South Africa contributes to the successes achieved in EW industry, academia and government.
The first speaker was Dr Francois Maasdorp (CSIR). What an interesting topic on the initial investigation on a seaborne passive radar focusing on FM broadcasting. An interest arose from static tracking measurements conducted in 2014 at Langebaan on air traffic (Dakota C47TP) with a phase interferometer to determine range and angle of the target. In Cape Town multi-static tracking was done successfully on Boeing type air traffic in 2014 with four receiver sites. During the Maritime Domain Awareness exercise later in 2014 in Saldanha maritime target detections (Harbour Patrol Boats and buoys) were done through the increase of instantaneous bandwidth with the same passive radar principles. Further development required a long term passive radar test bed. This was done in Gauteng with five receiver nodes and one central node at the CSIR to enable target tracking that is connected with high bandwidth capacity links. Due to the predominant air traffic target tracking, research continued in passive radar on-board a maritime platform that could be used in covert type operations. The effectiveness of FM based passive radar was tested on a seaborne platform (Namacurra) in False Bay as compared to a static land based experiment (conducted at Air Force Base Waterkloof) which provided best detection results as 135km detection range. In the maritime experiment three days of IQ data recordings were made in favourable and less favourable weather conditions that provided good to limited target ranges within the weather conditions. Additional work in this regard include the addition of clutter effects and the investigation of range-Doppler migration algorithms. The research team aims to direct these efforts to digital video broadcasting for improved range resolution of sea surface and drone detections.
In an evolving EW environment, Mr Lance Clayton from IMT provided more insight on the new naval radars from an Electronic Support (ES) perspective. Radar developments is adaptive to incorporate more functionality to provide tactical combinations of ELINT and instantaneous radar ESM solutions. Due to the sensitivity of naval radars, it is important to review the latest technology developments in specific reference to power levels and waveforms that are adapted for modern day radars, new technology low power coherent pulsed radars that operate with pulse compression and commercial and military frequency modulated continuous wave radars. The increase in the electromagnetic density creates further challenges and new technology includes complex waveforms with varied pulse widths and unique intra-pulse characteristics. New developments also includes pulse repetition frequency and antenna rotational characteristics and radars with electronically steered antenna arrays (as demonstrated with active and passive steered radars). The prevalence of multi-mode radars is clearly visible in technology implementation. Receiver architectures remains relevant with wideband log video detection, channelised receiver architecture, digital receiver architecture and combined wide and narrowband superhet receiver architectures. It is the merging of old and new technology were classical processing in ESM systems still apply, but needs to be done faster to optimise the operation mode and warning displays.
A new digital analysis receiver, developed by SAAB Grintek Defence, was presented by Mr Travis Milewski. The basic system with an AQR and RWS sub-systems, compact DF antenna, ESM capabilities with auto DF and designated ELINT like functions within the 2-18 GHZ coverage was presented. The improvement on the basic system resulted in the inclusion of the NRAS (DRx) main component which include a compact phase interferometer unit, tuner RF tuner unit, ELINT controller with a digital processing card doing data processing and passing info over to an ELINT processor for tasking, tracking and management functions. Functionalities include tuning from RF to IF near the sensor, exploring fibre optic IF cables with real sampling in the second Nyquist zone at 500Mhz IBW (25 x 20Mhz channeliser bin width) with four RF/IF channels. IQ data received from the channeliser is utilised for intra-pulse (power, phase and frequency) information. The result then is the angle of arrival per SDW with phase and amplitude DF. Simultaneous signals in different bins (pulsed and CW signals) can be captured simultaneously. Other benefits include: Good PRI accuracy with large stable pulse buffers and PW accuracy through the DLVA that does not stretch the pulse as a function of power and the frequency accuracy.
Benita Maritz from IMT conducted measurements on the vertical variability in the lower atmosphere (0-150m) over False Bay and compared these measurements with predictions from bulk micrometeorology models as part of the First European South African (FESTER) experiment. The operational focus was to provide inputs to characterising False Bay for EO propagation. This was a first introduction for IMT to deploy and use a Helikite to do meteorological profiles. The scientific objective was to investigate the potential of deploying a Helitkite in order to characterise the lower atmosphere. The meteorological sensor package consisted of an Airmar (measuring wind speed and direction), LM35 temperature sensor in a radiation cover and a Kestrel 4500 (measuring humidity) container with a data logger and battery (total weight under 1kg). The experiment was to measure continuously the water column or up to ½ meter of the sea surface (towed on the side of IMT’s Sea Lab). Viable measurements were obtained for up to 10m/s wind speed (maximum that enabled safe recovery). The surfboard could obtain 5-8 knots within limited to sea conditions whilst providing viable results. There was a good correlation between predicted and actual profiles. Both predictions using the skin Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) had no correlation difference between predicted profiles. In rainy condition, al predicted profiles were similar and there was a good correlation between predicted and actual measurements. The model fits best with bucket SST and 10m value atmospheric values and as rain affected the model, it performed better with an unstable (Air-Sea Temperature Difference - ASTD) atmosphere. The model seemed to be more sensitive with regards to temperature inputs. Future considerations will require a physical measurements with more scientific equipment and time allowance for the sensor package to stabilise. Various entities with an radar inclination indicated their interest to collaborate with this research.
Mr Molahelgi Molope from ARMSCOR attended the AOC Conference in Singapore in January 2018 and provided some insights on developments in EW further afield. A total for twenty-four presentations were done at the conference of which nineteen were made available. 890 people representing 40 countries attended the conference that was divided into four main streams. Form the presentations it was clear that Russia and China poses a threat in EW technology employment. It was stated that nations should be encouraged to have their own sovereign capabilities. Another presentation referred to the Chinese Project 2049 that aims to provide China with complete dominance in the EMS. Confirmation was given of Chinese satellite interception stations in South America and Cuba and that they are aiming for deployments in Africa. It was presented that China has eleven aircraft with ELINT capabilities that is flying under civilian colours. Cyber was a predominant subject at the conference and a presentation by a US representative eluded that cyber intelligence use reconnaissance malware and enticing emails to collect intelligence. The establishment of regional cyber centres and cyber protection teams were confirmed. A presentation was done on a Virtual Electronic Combat Training Systems which provided for a more cost effective training solution. Another USA presenter indicated that EW operators must have high academic achievements preferably with maths. Presentations focused on the view of Own Forces from Enemy lines in terms of EMS activity. A presenter from the Turkish company, Aselsan eluded on a national threat database and the importance of a cooperative ESM effort and the sharing of DF information for geo-location. A USA speaker presented developments regarding a fully integrated modern EW Range (Red Flag). Representatives from the AOC presented advanced needs in the ELINT environment and the need to intercept new emerging radar (Prof David Stupples) and the move of EW towards a software defined environment and the need for more EW engineers as well as the competition with open standards (Dr Robert Andrew). A presenter from the UK presented challenges in terms of prolonged acquisition cycles, outdated technologies and agile development. Machine learning in the EW field was raised by a representative from Italy. Rohde&Schwarz did a presentation on radar fingerprinting and new radar technology, making the statement that EW is ten years behind in radar technology.
In true Aardvark Roost tradition we digested these valuable inputs during our networking function at the Seven Seas Club in Simon’s Town. The good relations between industry, academia, government and relevant entities engage fully in such activities to familiarise themselves with the expertise within the EW field in South Africa to enhance and promote EW.
The 16th Mini Aardvark Roost Conference was made possible through the generous contribution of their sponsors and the participation by EW industry, academia, government and media partners. We acknowledge the importance of your role in the success of EW success in South Africa and abroad.
On behalf of the Aardvark Roost we would like to thank our sponsors for making yet another valuable conference possible and would like to make mention of the following:
IMT – Venue, Lunch and Tea Time.
Seven Seas Club – Hosting the networking function.
Neptunes Galley – Providing snacks for the networking function.
Christo Cloete - Conference programme.
Sonika Botes, Christo Cloete, Tshilidzi Mukwevho – Conference coordination on the day.
Sonika Botes – Write-up of conference proceedings.
To all our fellow “Aardvarkies” see you all at our next mini conference in Pretoria on 24 October 2018.