Oman Air Defence Radar System


 

Input from Steve Bousfield

The Oman Air Defence Radar System is arguably one of the biggest and longest running projects the company has ever undertaken. The initial radars were part of the BAE umbrella project that included the Jaguar and Strikemaster aircraft. Subsequent contracts were direct with Radar. The Tropo was, I believe, originally let to Comms directly but because of various difficulties was brought under the Radar contract.

 

Starting with the initial supply of two S600 radar systems as part of a major upgrade to the, then, Sultan of Oman’s Air Force, now Royal Air Force of Oman, the company went on to supply further S600 systems, an En Route ATC cell for the airport at Seeb, a training simulator and two S713 3D radars along with their integration into a cohesive system.

 

The Oman Aircraft Control College was set up jointly by the company and the Air Force to provide training for both air defence and air traffic control operators for both Oman and, on commercial terms , for other customers. I came across this invitation which we produced for a reception to celebrate the opening which was performed by HRH Prince Andrew.  The college is still going strong and this is its website

 

Sites include:

 

Seeb – Headquarters of the Air Force

Thumrait,

Masirah

Khasab

?

?

 

There were some ingenious engineering solutions to technical problems encountered with the system. For example the radar antennas on at least one site were raised tripod-like structures creating something that looked very precarious but did the job.

 

The simulator that was supplied to SEEB was similar to those supplied to the RAF. It was unusual in that not only did it have its own small training ops room but could also interface to the S600 Ops cabins to provide training in the real operational environment.

 

An extensive communications network, including Tropospheric Scatter, links the various operational sites.

 

From its inception the company has had continuing support contracts covering the complete maintenance, repair and support of the system. This required large numbers of resident engineers, at times in excess of 100, together with the staff to look after them.

 

To date there is over 30 years continuous involvement in the project and as far as I’m aware it’s still ongoing. There must be some sort of record there. For how much longer though I don’t know – I saw in the press that it’s expected that they’ll sign up with Raytheon for a new Air Defence system.

 

Input from Neil Bennett

I think Ian Dancey was one of the Project Managers, Norman Davies was Systems, Vince McKenna in-country Manager, Andy Emberton Engineering Manager? along with others, Maurice Barwick was Quality Manager. It was in conjunction with what was left of Comms, and used the JORN 10 KW HF transmitters for the Tropos.

 

Seeb S600

 

(Input from David Lugton)
Here are some photos of the original radar site at Seeb showing the S600 (on its tripod legs) and the Height-Finder and the system shelters. These are from 1980 when I first went to Oman as part of the initial acceptance team, but the site didn't change much until it was moved up onto the jebel.

 

Click the thumbnails for the originally-sized photograph…

 

     

 

 

(Input from James Parker)

James has kindly supplied two photographs of the Seeb S600 installation. He writes: "These were taken at Seeb in about Oct 85. You can see we're on the jebel away from the original siting".

 

Click the thumbnails for the originally-sized photograph…

 

   

 

Thumrait

(Input from James Parker)

As I said earlier John Macdonald acting as chief engineer Oman sent me to Thumrait as part of the recycling of his engineers. I'd like to talk about Thumrait as I was there on and off for over ten years.
The S600 and C band height Finder were housed in a compound offset from the Runway to provide the best possible Airfield approach Radar using a 'Long Range' Radar. It worked and for the most part the weather at Thumrait is sunny and clear. There is a chance of mist/fog during the Hariff which comes along with the Indian Monsoon. Part of the same weather phenomenon. The site in 1986 was administered by SOAF personnel, with Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces. British controllers in SOAF uniforms and a dozen or so Marconi engineers. Accommodation was single, en suite rooms with a private 'garden'. The shift vehicles could be used for recreational purposes. Aside from the bars, there were. squash courts, tennis courts and a full eighteen hole golf course.
As an aside, as a shift worker one received an uplift on one's salary with free food and accommodation and on top of that you were given a monthly amount of local currency. Tax free after a years service. Very Nice. The flight down from Seeb by BAC 1-11 where on landing rolled off the runway onto a 'scraped surface' before being taxied to the terminal. A large hangar.
Laurie ? met me and did the quick welcome and your room is here and you mess there etc. Alan Macaneeny was Systems Engineer, covering the Tropo site as well. Dave Elliot was the Site engineer. Len Sparkes, Pete Winchester, Alan Laverty. Tony Child and his namesake. Roo, (one of three Australians recruited from GEC Australia. Dave Mobray, myself Frank Illinngworth and Mel Ross.

 

An S713 Site

(Photograph from James Parker - click for larger version)

This shows that snow does fall in Oman, albeit at 10,000 ft in the Winter of 1991/2 

 

L-R: Dave Allton (Site Engineer), Steve Black, Ian Pordham (Manager Oman), Robert Green (Administrator) and Brian Baker (succeeded Ian Pordham as Manager Oman).