The RTS 3200 Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) Optronics Radar Tracker (FORT) was recently developed and tested by Stellenbosch-based Reutech Radar Systems. The system was developed in response to market requests for a niche-capability light-weight electro-optic radar tracker as a cost-effective higher performance alternative to conventional electro-optic trackers which exhibit limitations under adverse weather conditions. RTS 3200 also addresses the market for replacement systems for obsolete conventional electro-optic radar trackers aboard naval vessels.
The product is also designed for application aboard smaller naval vessels which would normally only employ electro-optic trackers. RTS 3200’s low transmitted power levels hamper detection by hostile counter-measures thus allowing for more covert operations compared with conventional pulsed tracking radars. The radar also makes use of proven solid state transmitter electronics which greatly improves the overall reliability of the system, while at the same time reducing heat load and power consumption.
The highly modular nature of the FORT radar design allows adaptation for alternative configurations of optronics sensors including thermal imagers, infra-red sensors, laser range finders and vessel self-protection countermeasures such as laser dazzlers. This feature makes the system well suited to multiple naval surveillance and fire control applications including ship self-defence during anti-piracy operations.
The radar completed integration and testing at Reutech followed by installation on-board the SA Navy Valour-class frigate SAS Spioenkop. During this activity, the sensor was fully integrated with the existing Combat Suite including Combat Management System, Guns and Inertial Navigation System.
During sea trials on SAS Spioenkop, the radar surpassed performance specifications in terms of detection range, tracking accuracy and target acquisition times. These trials were undertaken under varying sea state and weather conditions allowing the Navy operators to evaluate performance under a wide range of operational environments.
Camera Image of FORT Tracking a Low-Flying Aircraft.
The radar remained on board the SAS Spioenkop until the end of July 2015, whereupon it was removed and returned to Reutech for integration with RRS’ RSR 210N 2D naval surveillance radar, which is a product currently in service with the Royal Norwegian Navy aboard their Fridtjof Nansen class frigates.
The versatility of the RTS 3200 tracker, with its ability to accept target designations from non-collocated surveillance sensors also supports application in land-based roles such as cost effective all-weather tracking systems for land-based short range and very-short range air defence systems.