The CSIR’s radar capability originates from the signal services deployed in South Africa from Great Britain during the Second World War. The CSIR’s founding president, Sir Basil Schonland, led the team that received the first radar echo in South Africa in 1939. He then established a radar research and development (R&D) capability within the CSIR, which helped establish the South African radar industry. Today, the CSIR continues to make a critical contribution to the National System of Innovation in the radar sector.


  • Contract R&D: undertaking R&D into advanced radar sensor techniques and technologies and using these to develop innovative modern product concepts and specialised radar solutions, including bespoke designs for customised client requirements.
  • Industry establishment and support: utilising radar technology, in partnership with industry, to develop and industrialise new concepts, enabling industry to broaden market access through advanced radar products.
  • Testing, evaluation, modelling and measurement systems and services: enabling effective evaluation and optimisation of radar systems.
  • Training: providing course-based, modelling and simulation-based, as well as field-deployable radar facility-based training.
  • Defence evaluation and research services: providing technological support, performance requirement studies, acquisition support, operational testing and evaluation support and expert consultation.
  • Radar capability establishment: assisting countries to develop identified gaps in their radar capability and establish programmes to build capability through joint technology development programmes and human capital development.

Focus areas  

  • Surveillance radar systems for persistent ubiquitous surveillance of wide areas that are optimised to provide situational awareness in asymmetrical threat environments by means of optimised detection, tracking, classification, recognition, fusion, situation assessment and intent estimation.
  • Synthetic aperture radar (SAR): airborne (including unmanned aerial vehicles) and spaceborne SAR for high-resolution and wide-area imaging, reconnaissance, moving target detection and Earth observation applications.
  • Platform protection radar: compact short-range radar for the detection and confirmation of, as well as alerting about missiles and hostile fire.
  • Radar technology and techniques R&D: research into advanced radar signal processing techniques and phenomenology and technologies to support sensor development, which includes non-cooperative target recognition, active electronically steered antenna technology, small-target detection, compact transceiver technology and modern signal processors.
  • Electromagnetic signature measurement and modelling: measurement facilities and modelling tools to allow accurate characterisation of platform radar cross section.