Tinus van Wyk (2019)
Tinus was born today exactly 65 years ago in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where he also matriculated in 1972. He was a keen sportsman and received Provincial Colours in both rugby and cricket. After his National Service and three years at the University of Stellenbosch, Tinus joined the then SADF as a lieutenant in 1978. His first posting was with 2 Signal Regiment, 23 Squadron – the then EW Squadron for the SA Army. He was one of the founder members of the new 5 Signal Regiment in 1981, now the SA army EW Regiment, that was subsequently borne out of the old 23 Squadron 2 Signal regiment. During his service in 2 and 5 Signal Regiments he served as EW Troop Commander, EW Squadron Commander, Regimental EW Operations Officer, Regimental 2nd In Command and Acting Regimental Officer Commanding. He was instrumental in initiating and completing vital EW projects like Bowie, Expanse and Filosoof. Tinus was actively involved in numerous operational EW campaigns and was responsible for establishing EW doctrine and procedures for 5 Signal Regiment. During this time, he also served as Signals Officer in operational Units like the well-known 32 Battalion and 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion. He received, amongst others, the Pro Patria Medal, the Southern Africa Medal, the Military Merit Medal as well as the Southern Cross Medal. Tinus successfully completed the Army Command and Staff Course in 1989 and left the SADF as a lieutenant colonel in 1992 join Grinaker System Technologies.
He started as a Project Officer at GST in 1992 and in 1993 was transferred to the newly established International Sales and Marketing Department. With the lifting of international sanctions against South Africa, he was one of a very small team in the company tasked with the enormous challenge to travel the wide world in order to establish the company as an international player in the EW market. Many stories and urban legends come to mind during these interesting times. Highlights during these infant years in the international arena include the company’s first participation in an international Defence exhibition in Malaysia during 1993, the company’s first export orders for EW systems to Malaysia in 1996, the UAE in 1997 as well as the Border Fence Project between Kuwait and Iraq in 1997. After that followed projects in Singapore, India and the Middle East – GEW was now established as a new kid on the block in the International EW Market!!
Tinus was appointed as Head of Sales and Marketing of GST in 1996, a position, he held until 2017 when he stepped down to make room for the young guard. He also served as a company Director and played a leading role in the internationalisation of the company with the first co-operation agreement between GST and the then EADS from Germany. This paved the way for the later and current German shareholding in GST and GEW. He was also a founding member and director of the MRCM Company established in 2001 with EADS from Germany, Indra from Spain, TRL Technologies from the UK and Herley Industries from the USA. During this time, the company grew from a humble R60 million per annum local company to a truly internationally recognised global supplier of EW Solutions with a R1 billion per year turnover. He served as a Director on the Board of the South African Aerospace Maritime & Defence Industries Association (AMD) for many years. He was also a Director of the newly established Defence Export Council (SAAMDEC). Tinus is still with GEW and looks after the portfolio of Business Compliance. He is married to Marileen for the past 42 years and they have two sons. He still has a keen interest in all sports and is a dedicated hunter and wildlife enthusiast
Nelis Willers (2019)
Cornelius J. (Nelis) Willers Completed a B.Sc (Hons) Electronics Engineering at the University of Pretoria in 1976 and a MS (Optical Engineering) at the University of Arizona in 1983. He is registered as a professional engineer. His 40 years work experience includes electro-optical system development, system architecture and systems engineering, software development, simulation. His most notable achievements include being the architect and technical lead in the establishment of imaging infrared missile seeker head technology, and in the process, spearheading advanced physics-based image simulation. The simulation system is currently used for a number of different applications in different laboratories across the globe. His current interests include infrared signature measurement and data analysis, infrared system modelling and simulation, and the development of aircraft self-protection systems. He has published a number of technical reports and conference papers on infrared system simulation. He published a 500-page book on electro-optical system design with SPIE Press in April 2013
Willers has 40 years’ experience in electro-optical system development, system architecture, systems engineering, software development, simulation and, more recently, information warfare and agent-based systems. His most notable achievements include being the architect and technical lead in the establishment of imaging infrared missile seeker head technology and in the process, spearheading advanced physics-based image simulation. The simulation system is currently used for a number of different applications in different laboratories across the globe.
Cornelius J. (Nelis) Willers completed a B.Eng (Honns) Electronics Engineering degree at the University of Pretoria in 1976 and an MS (Optical Engineering) degree at the University of Arizona in 1983. He is registered as a professional/chartered engineer. His 37 years of work experience includes electro-optical system development, system architecture and systems engineering, software development, and infrared scene simulation. His most notable achievements include being the chief architect and technical lead in establishing an imaging missile seeker technology base, and in the process, spearheading advanced physics-based infrared image simulation. The simulation system is currently used for a number of different applications in laboratories across the globe. His current interests include infrared signature measurement and data analysis, infrared system modeling and simulation, and the development of aircraft self-protection systems. He is leading the open-source, Python-based pyradi radiometry toolkit project. He has published a large number of technical and research reports. His conference paper topics include infrared system modeling and simulation, and the modeling of military conflict using agent-based techniques. He teaches radiometry and infrared system design in short courses and at a masters-degree level at the University of Pretoria. He maintains pyradi, a computational radiometry toolkit, available at https://code.google.com/p/pyradi/, with pyradi tutorials at https://github.com/NelisW/ComputationalRadiometry.
Willers’ interests include infrared signature measurement and data analysis, infrared system modelling and simulation and the development of aircraft self-protection systems. He has published a number of technical reports and conference papers on infrared system simulation and the modelling of military conflict using agent-based techniques. In April 2013, he published a 500-page best-selling book on electro-optical system design with SPIE Press, the international society for optics and photonics in the USA.
Willers has 40 years’ experience in electro-optical system development, system architecture, systems engineering, software development, simulation and, more recently, information warfare and agent-based systems. His most notable achievements include being the architect and technical lead in the establishment of imaging infrared missile seeker head technology and in the process, spearheading advanced physics-based image simulation. The simulation system is currently used for a number of different applications in different laboratories across the globe. He taught radiometry and infrared system design in short courses and at a Master’s level at the University of Pretoria.
Cornelius J. Willers (Nelis) is currently employed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) where, as part of the Infrared Electronic Warfare (IR EW) domain, his main focus is the development of countermeasure techniques within the modeling and simulation environment.
Rudolph Louw (2019)
Rudolph Louw started his career in the SA Army (EW) in 1982 and thereafter two years as a system engineer at an EW company. Rudolph worked at ARMSCOR (Armament Corporation) since 1986 as Group Leader and since 2007 as Senior Technical Manager. Mr Louw’s extensive multi-disciplinary experience include airborne EW, radar, communication systems, navigation systems, identification systems, flight testing, military airspace control and air defence systems.
His input on classified strategic assets for land, air and sea EW
capabilities and participation in project management of more than eleven EW projects confirms his contribution to strengthening the EW capability of the SANDF, not only on production and acquisition level, but on research, development, evaluation, and testing as well.
His expertise in Electronic Attack, Electronic Support as well as Electronic Protection ensures the integration of existing capabilities with leading-edge technologies. Mr Louw is a person with a valued EW spirit that symbolised integrity, character and professionalism.
Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee (2019)
Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee joined the SANDF in 1979 after completing his National Service. Since 1981 he has been involved in the Corps of Signals and held various posts such as the Officer Commanding 21 Signal Unit (Command and Control), 1 Signal Unit (Tactical Communication), School of Signals (Signal Training), SA Army Signal Formation HQ (Admin and Log Support) and 5 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare). Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee has been involved in the capability development of Information Warfare in the SANDF since 2003 and is retiring on 30 November 2019.
Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee’s involvement in Electronic Warfare was evident on a tactical, operational and strategic level. He participated in the renewal and replacement programs of several SA Army Electronic Warfare capabilities and research and development programs to improve existing land, air and sea Electronic Warfare capabilities. Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee was deployed operationally during which he played an important role in Command and Control and Electronic Warfare. Within Information Warfare, Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee furthered the strategic interests of Electronic Warfare in the form of establishing governance and oversight in research and development of strategic EW capabilities in the SANDF. Brig Gen A.J. Coetzee was a previous board member of The Aardvark Roost.
Abel van der Merwe (2014)
Abel Jordaan van der Merwe was born in 1952 in the coal mining town of Wankie in what was then known as Rhodesia. Raised on a tobacco farm in the Gatooma district he obtained his GCE A-Level at Guinea Fowl school in Gwelo.
He graduated with a BSc Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in 1975. His academic career was followed up in 1980 with a BSc (Hons) Operations Research (University of South Africa) and in 1984 with an MSc Electronic Engineering (University of Pretoria).
After graduating from UCT he worked at the Atomic Energy Board at Pelidaba until June 1976 when, in search of greater excitement, he sneaked past the CSIR security and knocked on the front door of the National Institute for Defense Research (NIDR) and, amazingly, was allowed in without an appointment to speak with John Cloete under whose mentorship he subsequently became involved with the, then high priority in South Africa, field of Electronic Warfare. A decision he has never regretted as he claims to have never had a dull day in the 38 years since.
He considers himself fortunate that his career overlapped with South Africa’s golden era of engineering and that he has had the honour and privilege of meeting and working with – sometimes in competition – with some truly great engineers and military men.
During his NIDR days he assisted with various EW and radar development projects. In particular, he conducted studies, which included simulation (on a computer with a total memory of only 3k) and tests against a Korean war radar, the inverse conscan, cross-eye and cross-polar deception techniques.
He registered Sysdel CC – an abbreviation for System Development Lab – in 1978. However, the time was not ripe for Sysdel and it was left on ice for a while.
In April 1981, as part of the drive to “industrialise” the EW expertise built up at the NIDR, he joined Barlow Electronic Systems Ltd (later to be renamed ESD Ltd) where he worked as consultant on radar and electronic warfare projects.
In January 1984 he decided that the corporate culture was not for him and resigned, planning to start a furniture manufacturing business. However, some months later he was luckily asked by Alan Holloway, then still at Armscor, to assist with a small EW study. This provided the incentive (and sale of his VW Kombi for the capital) to talk Nick Koukakis, friend, and ex-colleague at NIDR and ESD, into joining Sysdel . In the following year Hendrik du Rand, then Hubert Montgomery and Anton Goedhals joined and Sysdel had the range of expertise and enthusiasm needed to accomplish the dream.
After initially concentrating on the evaluation and upgrade of existing, imported EW systems, Sysdel has gone on to design, develop, manufacture and support 100% homegrown Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Electronic Support and Electronic (ESM) and Active Countermeasures (ECM) systems in the radar frequency bands for airborne, naval and ground based deployment.
Sysdel’s first production system, the Radix man-portable ESM/ELINT system, has been operational for more than twenty years with almost zero hardware failures and not one software modification. It can safely be said that as a result of the efforts of Sysdel, and other well known local companies, South Africa is completely independent of foreign imports at the system level.
If fact, in common with other local companies, Sysdel has become an international supplier of EW systems of the highest standards – in some cases with features and performance not available anywhere else – to countries across the globe.
The Sysdel formula has been to stay small and compact with the emphasis on teamwork – at all levels from company management through to development and implementation – with each individual being trusted to do what he’s best at. The Sysdel philosophy is it right the first time, deliver on schedule and within budget, and to always strive to exceed the User expectations.
Gerrie Radloff (2014)
Joining the Air Force
Johan Gerhardus (Gerrie) joined the Air Force in 1964, and after his basic military training, he was selected for flying training on Harvard Aircraft. He qualified as an Air Force pilot in the same year and was selected to study a B Mil degree at the Faculty of Military Science of the University of Stellenbosch based at the Military Academy in Saldanha. He obtained his B Mil degree in 1967 and proceeded to become an instructor pilot. After a six-year Instruction tour from 1968 to 1974, on Harvard and Impala Aircraft, Gerrie was selected to go into the fighter aircraft line. He flew Sabres on 1 Squadron from 1974 to 1976 and from 1977 to 1978 he flew the Mirage III on 2 Squadron. He flew the Mirage F1 CZ on 3 Squadron as a part-time pilot during 1980 to 1982 while performing EW staff duties at Air Force Headquarters.
Commanding Officer of a Fighter Squadron
Between 1983 and 1985, Gerrie was the Commanding Officer of 1 Squadron flying the Mirage F1AZ. During this period, he acquired hands-on experience with sophisticated EW systems the F1AZ fleet was being equipped with, as well as threat analysis and the development of counter measure techniques and related flying tactics. He flew many actual combat sorties against some of the most advanced Air Defence Systems in the world. Not a single aircraft was lost due to enemy actions during his entire Commanding Officer tour.
Electronic Warfare Staff Post
Gerrie did two EW Staff Tours at the South African Air Force Headquarters. Between 1979 and 1982, he operated as the Staff Officer Electronic Warfare (SO EW). During this period he managed all operational EW activities in the South African Air Force. This involved running the entire signal intelligence effort and data analysis. He also took part in various EW projects and was the main drive behind modifying and equipping all the SAAF’s fighter and attack aircraft with self-protection EW capabilities. Gerrie had the advantage of actually doing the operational flight and acceptance tests on the Mirage F1AZ for the equipment and systems for which he wrote the requirements. His second tour at South African Air Force Headquarters was that of Senior Staff Officer Electronic Warfare (SSO EW) from 1986 to 1991. This is the most Senior EW post in the Air Force. He managed all EW activities from projects to operations. His dynamic personality, operational experience and intimate knowledge of the EW environment contributed to the establishment and maintenance of the best EW equipped Air Force on the continent and among the best in the world.
Joining the EW Industry
In 1992 Gerrie decided the take his vast operational and EW experience to the South African EW Industry. He joined Grintek Avitronics (now SAAB Grintek Defence) in the marketing division and soon became the Manager for International Marketing and Business Development. Gerrie’s dynamic personality and intimate knowledge of EW was a major contributing factor to put the South African Industry on the International map. He sacrificed home comforts and family life to spend long periods overseas on marketing and commercial related visits. His famous saying of “We don’t sell a product, we sell a capability” became a buzz-fraise that are still used in the marketing environment of the South African EW Industry. After his retirement in 2007, Gerrie’s EW knowledge and experience was not lost. He is still actively involved in the shaping of EW plans and strategies to various organisations as a consultant.
President of the Aardvark Roost
Gerrie was instrumental in the resurrection of the Aardvark Roost in 2008, after being dormant for many years. He was nominated as the chapter’s president in November 2008, and served in this position until February 2013. During his term as president, the chapter grew from strength to strength, receiving numerous awards from the AOC head office in the USA, establishing a local awards program and held various conferences. Gerrie ensured that the Aardvark Roost played a role in promoting the exchange of ideas and information as well as in fostering the dissemination of new knowledge in the field of EW through the conferences we arrange. His EW expertise is unique, his enthusiasm for EW is insatiable and it is nearly impossible to overestimate the contribution he made to EW in South Africa over a period approaching forty years.
Ben Ash (2013)
After qualifying as an Electronic Engineer at Cape Town University in 1976, Ben did his National Service in the Signal Corps. He then joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 1978 as Staff Officer Electronic Engineering Projects (SOEEP) in the Electrical Engineering Department at SAAF headquarters.
The SAAF at the time realised that a substantial electronic warfare (EW) capability would be required and Ben played a key role in all the projects that followed. He had the ability to identify the critical technical issues when specifying EW equipment and he understood the operational problems that had to be overcome. He translated this into the capabilities the equipment had to meet to ensure that the required operational functionality was achieved.
He worked exceptionally well in a team and his impeccable integrity, sharp mind and vast knowhow accumulated in a very short time, made people including EW equipment suppliers, respect and accepted him. This proved to be particularly valuable during contract negotiations, design reviews, equipment acceptance tests and field trials.
Ben was the technical responsible officer for all EW projects that included a locally developed Countermeasures Dispensing System, three Radar Warning System (RWS) programs of which one was a local effort, a Self Protection and Escort Radar Jammer program as well as new Signal Intelligence (Sigint) systems.
More bright young engineers were appointed – Christo Cloete, Simon Germishuizen, Herman Volker and Harry Schultz being some examples! Ben was their mentor and guided them to become very useful EW experts in their own right.
Many more EW programs followed. It included additional operational equipment like the fully integrated EW suite for the Cheetah program as well as helicopter deployable Sigint and Stand-off Jamming systems. It also involved the establishment of support facilities to test, develop and verify the operational functionality and effectiveness of EW systems. This included the Automated System for the Capture and Analysis of Radar Information (ASCARI), the Multi Emitter Environment Simulator (MEES), the Infrared Mobile Laboratory (IRML), the Open Loop Tracker and the Dynamic Radar Cross Section measurement facility. Each of the different facilities fulfilled important and complimentary roles and Ben played a leading role in ensuring that it became a success i.e. a mobile EW range.
Ben meanwhile achieved his MBA degree through UNISA where he developed the concept of an EW Centre for his thesis. He was the main driver behind the SAAF’s EW Centre and was the first commanding officer in 1983. Ben created the term “technical operational systems support” that became the main function and focus of the EW Centre.
In 1988 Ben joined the newly established Grintek Avitronics that specialised in self protection EW equipment. When the war in Angola ended in 1989 the local demand for EW reduced dramatically but the normalisation of the political situation in South Africa was on the other hand gaining momentum and the Arms Embargo started to ease-up. This allowed opportunities to export EW equipment – just in time because Avitronics was doomed unless export customers could be found.
The challenge was how to be successful as an unknown supplier against the well established big players from the USA, England, France, Italy and Israel? The answer laid in competitive priced EW systems with superior performance. The equipment Avitronics produced at the time was more or less competitive but it did not really possess any performance advantage.
The operational experience gained during the conflict was potentially a major advantage – if it could be exploited properly. The question was how to convert this experience into the design of EW systems to provide superior performance. It was also a race against time – local contracts were running out and without foreign orders, the company could very well go under.
As the company’s technical director, Ben again played a pivoting role in mustering, motivating and guiding the very capable but also some very individualistic design engineers to come-up with the solutions.
The result was the Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS). It offered radar, laser, missile approach warning as well as countermeasures dispensing sub-systems. Each subsystem offered certain performance advantages but its uniqueness and competitive edge laid in that it was fully integrated versus the competition’s federated systems.
The first export order was signed in 1997 and many subsequently orders followed with customers from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America.
IDAS was of course a team effort but it required a special kind of leadership with the vision, engineering insight and management skills to ensure success. Without Ben fulfilling this function, it is very doubtful whether Avitronics would have succeeded in this endeavour.
Ben became managing director of Avitronics in 1998 and to an even greater extent, turned the company into a truly successful and leading EW manufacturer with a whole range of EW systems for airborne, naval and land based applications.
When the Swedish companies Celsius Tech and later Saab became interested in Avitronics, Ben ensured that the South African developed EW systems were retained and further improved. When Saab acquired the Grintek group in 2005, Ben as part of senior management, was required to move to Sweden and continued to make sure that the local EW expertise and systems were maintained.
In 2010 after playing a truly gigantic role in EW for more than thirty years, Ben had to choose between staying in EW but remain in Sweden indefinitely and his love for South Africa. He chose the latter and returned to South African and joined the Zeiss company.
Ben’s legacy in EW is however far from over. His example, mindset and dedication to EW over such an extended period left a lasting impression on many still involved in EW in South Africa. This will ensure that Ben’s influence in EW will endure and perpetuate for many years to come.
Jan Hendrik (Mossie) Basson (2013)
Mossie gained his wings in the SAAF in 1964 and graduated at the Military Acadamy in 1968. He progressed to the fighter environment in the mid-1970’s, first as an instructor on the staff of 85 Combat flying (Impala Mk 1 & 2).
He flew many combat missions and was involved in numerous operations in Northern Namibia/Southern Angola/South Western Zambia until the end of the conflict in the late 1980’s. This valuable operational experience made him acutely aware of the necessity of EW to overcome the ever increasing density and sophistication of air defences encountered in the operational area.
His enthusiastic interest in the technical and operational aspects of air defence systems plus his original way of thinking, resulted in the huge contributions Mossie made in finding solutions for the operational problems encountered.
He became the SAAF’s first SOEW in 1976 and working closely with engineers from the Air Force, the CSIR and Armscor, played a key role in establishing various EW development and acquisition programmes. It included a new generation RWR, self-protection and escort radar jammers, chaff and flare dispensing systems and modern state of the art Sigint equipment.
His practical and innovative ideas further resulted in the establishment of some really unique capabilities. Examples included clandestine ground-based helicopter transportable ESM/SIGINT system which was regularly deployed inside enemy territory.
Another example was the high radar cross section helium balloons that could be deployed by own forces in forward areas. During a trial deployment in the operational area, eleven radar guided surface to air missiles were launched at these “helicopter targets”.
His contribution in developing flying tactics to enhance the effectiveness of ECM cannot be overemphasised. This was also true with regard to mission planning – in how to exploit the weaknesses of air defence systems i.e. their minimum reaction times as well as their minimum and maximum engagement height and range limitations.
Mossie further played a major role in the development and presentation of EW courses and in creating EW awareness in the SAAF.
Within Military Intelligence he also contributed substantially with regard to the crucially important aspect of technical intelligence and he played a key role in the exploitation of captured enemy air defence equipment. He was often involved in technical information exchanged encounters with intelligence services of foreign countries where his knowledge, negotiating skills and personality gave him a lot of credibilities.
After his retirement in the early 1990s, he remained fully committed to EW as a consultant and lecturer on EW to the SANDF and the South African EW industry. This includes courses to foreign customers on behalf of the EW industry. His EW expertise is unique, his enthusiasm for EW is insatiable and it is hardly impossible to overestimate the contribution he made to EW in South Africa over a period approaching forty years.
Dr. Dirk Baker (2012)
Dr Dirk Baker was born in Grahamstown in 1945. His full-time tertiary studies started in Grahamstown in 1964 and culminated in 1974 with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Ohio State University, specialising in field theory and antennas.
During his career, he worked at the National Institute for Defence Research of the CSIR, EMLab, and Grintek, from where he retired at the age of 60 in 2005. He now works as a specialist consultant for SAAB EDS and other organisations both locally and internationally.
Over the past 45 years he has been intimately involved in the design, development and manufacture of a wide class of antennas operating in the 20 MHz to 40 GHz frequency range. From the outset, emphasis was always on innovative designs with particular attention given to manufacturability and qualification to appropriate military and other specifications. These antennas are used in defence and commercial environments. The aim was to achieve world-class performance to ensure an export market for the antenna products, a goal in which he succeeded. Many of the innovative export EW products today would not be possible without some of the innovative antenna solutions developed by Dr. Baker or other engineers trained by him.
Dr Baker designed and built many of the rectangular and tapered anechoic chambers in South Africa with operating frequency ranges typically from 0.5 to 40 GHz as well as the microwave test range of the National Antenna Test Range (NATR) at Paardefontein (north of Pretoria), a 500 m ground reflection antenna test range covering from below 300 kHz to 40 GHz. It is rated as one of the best facilities of its type in the world. Without these facilities, the development and testing of EW antennas and systems would not be possible today.
He has a broad understanding of the operational and environmental requirements of electronic systems for land-based, airborne (fixed wing, helicopters, and UAVs), naval and submarine applications. He also has a thorough knowledge of other technologies used in EW systems. This knowledge and test experience enable him to interpret user requirements and to propose tailored solutions.
Dr. Baker managed business aspects of the antenna business throughout his career, taking responsibility for all aspects from budgeting up to negotiation with overseas clients.
He is also passionate about the training of new engineers and the development of antenna technology in South Africa.
The AOC Aardvark Roost chapter has the privilege of recognizing thanking Dr. Baker for his lifetime contribution to EW in South Africa by bestowing upon him the AOC lifetime Achievement award.