In several recent outings, Tellumat Air Traffic Management (ATM) has shown it can breathe new life into unsupported, effectively obsolete radar systems, offering defence and civil aviation customers an innovative partnership option that extends product life beyond the vendor sales and support cycle.

Market need

The South African Air Force, and others on the African continent, use various types of radar systems to perform air defence and related operations.

One example is the Marconi Monopulse Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR). Used for long-range en-route operations, the MSSR employs secondary radar or IFF (Identification Friend or Foe). Another is the Marconi Tactical Mobile Radar (TMR), used for medium-range close combat and manoeuvring operations.

Both systems make use of a display subsystem to visualise the radar picture. Operational personnel use it to perform their duties of controlling the aircraft, and technical personnel employ it in their role of fault finding and system optimisation.

Currently, the display units of both these types of systems are outdated, having reached their end of life 10 years ago. Effectively obsolete and unsupportable, this has created the need for new display and processing systems.

To satisfy this requirement, the SAAF need look no further than Tellumat ATM, which has recently completed several similar upgrades on other radar systems, effectively extending their end of life and deferring costly radar equipment replacement expenditure.

Technology solution

The SAAF requirement is twofold: firstly, a scan-converted radar display is needed to visualise the radar picture, and secondly, plot extraction is required to address the obsolescence of the MSSR hardware plot extraction system.

Tellumat has developed a display system from scratch that meets these needs, using complex state-of-the-art scan conversion and secondary plot extraction algorithms. This entirely software-based system, known as the Tellumat Radar Display System (TRDS), can display all the required raw radar videos and synthetic map data provided as an underlay to the radar video. The system further interfaces to various legacy systems to provide primary, secondary and combined plot and track data to display as an overlay to the radar video.

Although the system is capable of both primary and secondary radar plot extraction, the client in question opted for the latter only, as it urgently needed to address the complexity of the aged MSSR hardware extraction system.

The TRDS system runs on commercial-off-the-shelf processor systems using standard components with minimal specialised hardware interfaces.

Benefits

In addition to cost effectively extending the useful life of older radars, this new radar display system has delivered a range of benefits through some digitisation and standardisation:

  • A modern, intuitive graphical user interface provides extensive information in high definition.
  • There’s no need to pay for expensive display hardware to be kept in stores as spares.
  • The software scan converter runs on industry-standard processing and graphics hardware, simplifying upgrades.
  • Reducing the hardware content improves system reliability and reduces maintenance.
  • Extending the system is software-based, which is easy and cost-effective compared to proprietary hardware enhancements.
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