South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has completed the first flight test of its electronics testing, evaluation and training pod – also known as the Inundu pod. The pod will serve as an experimental platform for airborne electronics and support Electronic Warfare (EW) testing and evaluation, which includes electronic support applications and Synthetic Aperture Radar. The pod is designed to provide an airborne ‘laboratory environment’ for electronics during flight on military type platforms without requiring electronic hardware hardening or ruggedisation.
The pod permits rapid implementation and flight testing of experimental electronic hardware and new technologies in a fast jet environment. The main aim of the instrumented flight test was to perform an initial assessment of the influence of the pod on aircraft handling, determine the performance of the pod airframe structure and conduct an internal environment analysis in preparation for the integration of payload electronics.
On 10 September 2015 at Lanseria Airport in South Africa’s Gauteng province, the Inundu pod was installed on a Hawker Hunter aircraft – a demilitarised British-designed fighter aircraft. The aircraft was piloted by the owner, Mr Ron Wheeldon, and South African Air Force retired Major General Desmond Barker, who is also an experimental test pilot and an acting executive director of the CSIR. The pod was tested up to a flight envelope speed of 350 knots (648km/h) with the flight crew satisfied that the pod had no noticeable influence on aircraft handling. The development team confirmed that the pod was structurally intact and they were confident that the flight envelope would be extended during the next flight test to meet the full design goals.
The first test flight represents a significant milestone in the CSIR’s aeronautical, radar and electronic warfare research and development effort aimed at establishing a cost-effective fast jet testing, evaluation and training platform. The pod is designed to support the CSIR, the local industry, the South African National Defence Force and international requirements.
The pod’s name ‘Inundu’ originates from the isiZulu word meaning ‘moth’. Tiger Moths ‘click’ to disrupt a bat’s echolocation capability, similar to electronic warfare techniques. For this reason, Inundu was chosen as the name for the CSIR’s first fast jet radar and EW laboratory in the sky. The pod is designed to enable the exchange of an electronics payload without affecting its interfaces with the carriage aircraft, thus enabling the flight testing of a wide range of electronic technologies.
“The pod is similar in size and mass to the widely-used BL-755 store, which allows low-cost integration with many fast jet aircraft types, such as the BAE Hawk, Alpha Jet, Hawker Hunter, F-16, Tornado, F-4 Phantom and the Mirage III. It is highly configurable with a modular interchangeable payload,” explained Kevin Jamison, leader of the CSIR Inundu aeronautic development team.
September 24, 2015