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Optronics Africa goes RF

3 February 2010

OK, so this blog post may be a bit premature, especially considering that all our blog pages are still under construction, pretty much the same as our website, but this does not preclude me from sharing some of my ideas.

François in the early 90's - atmospheric transmission measurements.

I have spent several years working on the development of camouflage, and on the measurement of aircraft signatures (in order to develop countermeasure systems to protect them from missile attacks).  This work all falls into the category that we can describe as Defence R&D, and in my case, most of the work can easily be categorised under the optronics category, as my work revolved mostly around visible colours, infrared radiation, infrared imaging systems and infrared countermeasures.

For me, the logical progression from exclusively focusing on optronic solutions has always been to look at the problems in the broader context, and to consider multi-sensor packages that exploit the advantages of all available technologies, so as to provide the most advantageous solution.  This is unfortunately not the case with many domain specialists, as they seem to have a very narrow perspective… similar to that of a horse wearing blinkers… and all they can do is focus on their area of expertise.

It is for this very reason that although we established Optronics Africa to concentrate on the sale and marketing of high-end optronics products, we have decided that we should also offer complementary solutions from other sensor bands such as RF systems.

I had the opportunity to co-present a paper at Shephard Conferences in London in 2004.  The topic of this specific paper was Scenario Planning, and the role of Electronic Warfare in support of Peace Operations in Africa.

François presenting a paper at Shephard EW 2004 in London

In the presentation, Dr Jan Roodt of the CSIR and I, considered the various factors that lead to the instability and conflict experienced in various parts of Africa at present.  We considered a wide range of influences varying from mineral wealth to ethnicity, religion, drought, hunger and politics.  We highlighted the topic of piracy around the Horn of Africa, long before it became the hot topic that it is today.

Jan then went on to describe in detail (and to demonstrate) the work of his team on the development of an artificial intelligence based methodology for capturing human knowledge and assisting with decision support and scenario planning in complex environments.  The models allow for simulations under a wide variety of contexts ranging from military to purely diplomatic scenarios in both hostile and friendly environments.

I have since then been involved in the demonstration of high-tech optronic systems to various government organisations for use in coastal and maritime environments, as surveillance and observation tools, for crime fighting, security, defence and environmental conservation.

It was around this time that it dawned on me that by concentrating solely on the optical side of things I was missing out on many opportunities, as well as sales, because I could not offer a complete solution.  (pretty much in the same way as the domain experts with the horse blinkers…)  It was with this in mind that we decided at Optronics Africa to extend our product offerings, and to include a range of radar based technology products aimed specifically at the maritime traffic and harbour facilities market.  Enter Pegase Systems (France).

The Triton from Pegase Systems.

We hope that with the help of the products from Pegase Systems, and our already established optronics products from world class manufacturers such as Xenics Infrared Solutions and Raptor Photonics (to name but a few), we will be able to make a lasting contribution to peace and stability on the African continent.

I foresee a continued rise in criminal, terrorist and pirate activity, as Jan and I predicted at the Shephard EW2004 Conference where we first highlighted the piracy issue.   We realise that the aim of efficiently combating environmental crimes such as pollution of the environment, smuggling, poaching and illegal harvesting of natural resources will require drastic measures.  These measures include significant capital investment in technology, technological training of law enforcement officers, and the upliftment of affected communities.

Optronics Africa is well positioned to provide the technology necessary to accomplish the aim of sourcing the various building blocks required to provide a complete technology solution.

Furthermore, we are a local South African enterprise, our shareholding is representative of South African society, being 34% black and 33% female.  Our shareholders have a credible track record as individuals, having gained much experience in various aspects of knowledge intensive offerings over the years.  We have access to a wide personal network of both local and international domain specialists in the fields of surveillance, optronics and radar, and can assist in the technological training of law enforcement officers, as well as participating actively in the system implementation phase.

In a scenario where many local communities are directly dependent on the sea for their survival, and where fishing is a traditional way of life, products such as the Triton, from Pegase Systems, can provide a unique and integrated solution for automatic surveillance of maritime installations and harbours, thus leading to the upliftment of affected communities.

A technological investment of this nature will also have a long-lasting collateral effect on the improvement of safety along our coastlines by improving navigational aids to shipping and harbour infrastructure, which will in turn, have an effect on sustainable resource management, by reducing the incidence of collisions and reducing the resultant pollution of our in-shore waters.

For more information on our technology offerings, both Optronic and RF, please feel free to contact us on our email address: optronics@mweb.co.za or post a comment on our blog.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 February 2010 07:38

    Francois, I would like your permission to post your article on my Private Military Consulting profile….and then on my own blog, once it is sufficiently populated.
    This profile is frequented by key movers and shakers on the Global stage who are always on the lookout for innovative resources and strategies….

    • 4 February 2010 09:18

      You do realise that Optronics Africa is licensed to sell some of these technologies only in Southern Africa, and that any defence related consultancy services offered by Optronics Africa and F Collin Logistics & Consulting CC (FC LogCon) may only be offered with approval of DCAC in South Africa. In many cases, export and services may not be allowed due to end user licensing or government imposed restrictions.

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