09 April 2010

Thailand Integrates Ground Based Air Defence with SAMCOS

9 April 2010

SAMCOS interfaces with air defence radars and presents a correlated air picture both at the air-defence command centre (ADCC) and at the SAMCOS fire-control units (FCUs) located with each weapon system. In Thailand it is integrated with the Saab Giraffe 40 target-tracking radar and the Saab Bofors Dynamics RBSL70 and Chinese Qianwei- ('Vanguard') 2 (QW-2) SAM systems. The latter is similar to the Russian Igla-1. Interfaces have also been developed for the Northrop Grumman TPS-70 radar. Communications are provided by a narrowband (4.8 kb/s) VHF datalink, and the system can also link to combat net radios with a digital interface. (photo : Shawdefence)

The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Security Command gave Shaw Software Consultants Limited the opportunity and support to develop a cost effective solution to upgrade a slow and inefficient ‘Voice-tell’ SAM Command and Control system with a ‘State of the art’ computerised system. Such a system would provide the SAM Fire Units with a near real time display at the weapon, giving them time to point their short range infrared and laser guided missiles in the direction of the target, before it reached visual acquisition range. The system should be able to give the Fire Units the targets range and bearing pictorially, using a common operating picture on a laptop computer, and audibly through headphones or loudspeaker, to the nearest one degree of azimuth and one kilometre in range.

Prototype System

In 2005 a prototype system had been developed and was demonstrated to the RTAF, using a cumbersome directional long range broadband wireless LAN data link. The system was also demonstrated to the Royal Air Force, who provided some valuable inputs into the system’s final design. There were a number of features which had to be incorporated into the system design, and consequently a number of problems to overcome.

Produce a Low Cost Narrow Band VHF Data Link

A multi channel omni directional ruggedized 5-watt narrow band VHF radio modem, with a range of more than 20kms, was selected for the data link system. However, in order to get the real time radar data and command data to go across the 4.8Kbyte communications network, in near real time, SSCL had to develop its own variable message format data link.

Interface The System With The Target Tracking radar

SSCL had the expertise in data links and radar integration, so connecting to the target tracking radar, in this case the Ericsson Giraffe40, was quite straight forward. The radar data was then broadcast to all the SAM Fire Units and the SAM Command Centre very 1 to 2 seconds. After each radar data update, the system would poll the fire units in sequence for any replies to command messages sent over the link and for updates to its engagement status. For a 6-fire unit system, the worst case command acknowledgement response is 12 seconds with an average of 6 seconds.

SAMCOS's system (image : Shawdefence)
The System Had To Be Very Portable And Be Rapidly Deployed

Portability of the system and how to keep the Fire Units operational for up to 12 hours, without the need for external re-supply, was achieved by housing the sun-readable rugged laptop computer and the radio modem inside an aluminium carry-case. The carry-case was then connected to a portable power pack containing one 12 volt 28ah battery and a 500 watt ac inverter. The later versions will have additional PC batteries housed inside the carry-case. Once deployed, the system can be operational within the time it takes to connect the power pack, erect the antenna and boot up the computer. In practice, less than 5 minutes.

Allocate The Weapons To Their Respective Targets In An Efficient And Timely Manner

Although the system has both positive and procedural modes of control, manual allocation of weapons to targets still took too much time. Therefore a third mode of operation was developed giving the SAM Commander and Weapons Allocator time to oversee the ‘big-picture’, whilst the computer would look after the weapon allocation. This was achieved by developing an automated Threat Evaluation and Weapon Allocation (TEWA) mode of control, which could automatically allocate weapons to the 10 greatest threats.

Simulation For Planning & Training

The system had to have a comprehensive simulation capability allowing the operator to easily generate realistic training exercises and transmit them across the data link network. This facility, which also includes record and replay, allows SAM Units to practice deployments and to train realistically, without the need to use costly live aircraft.

System Customisation

SAMCOS displays and user documentation is customised to the users own language. SAMCOS was successfully trialled early in 2009 and is now in service with the RTAF.

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