SDT Space & Defense Technologies – A Reliable Technology Partner in Selected Vertical Expertis

SDT, Space and Defence Technologies provides innovative and creative solutions regarding Synthetic Aperture Radar Simulators, Digital Data Record

Issue 11 - June 2008

Defence Turkey: Mr. Ünal, could you describe us the structure and vision of SDT Space & Defense Technologies Inc. and also how the company has progressed since the establishment ?

SDT Space & Defense Technologies is established in Feb 2005 and its vision is:
- to have and develop vertical technical expertise areas where no or very little industrial expertise has been developed in Turkish defense market,
- to be a product based engineering company in defense & space technologies in Turkey

SDT’s expertise and interest areas can be summarized as follows:
(1) sensor signal processing (radar, sonar, RF/IR EW systems)
(2) Image/Pattern Processing and Recognition
(3) Sensor data fusion & decision support systems
(4) Simulation & Modeling
(5) Mission Management & Digital Data Recording Systems

SDT is a technology firm and concentrated mostly on product development including both software and hardware (electronics, mechanical design). Being Product/subsystem oriented, I believe is the next important wave in Turkish Defense Industry. It has really important implications and prerequisites. For example; from an export capability point of view it is, according to my humble view, the most important mechanism and in fact the most important one.
We are, in all daily decision and long term moves keeping this in mind.

SDT started off as a small engineering company in early 2005 in Bilkent Cyberpark, Bilkent University in Ankara. In the early days back in mid 2005, SDT has been contracted two small scale simulation and modeling projects (Tactical Environment Simulator, 3D visual model library development) in HELSIM (Blackhawk/Seahawk Helicopter Simulator) project which is under the main contractorship of HAVELSAN, thus a simulation software team has been formed at that time. Now SDT has a broader simulation engineering team and extended the simulation work in scope and volume since then.

Moreover, in the early days back in late 2005, SDT has initiated an internally funded product development program that has targeted airborne electronics and avionics area. In this respect, the first application was selected as Digital Video/Data Recorders (DDR/DVR) that can be put on various airborne platforms, such as UAVs, helicopters, jet aircraft and training aircraft. That internal development including software and hardware resulted an engineering prototype as an indigenous design and after some demonstrations to SSM and TAI on this product; SDT has been selected as DDR/DVR supplier for some airborne platforms such as indigenous MALE UAV and T-38 modernization program.

Within the same term, SDT has also worked on various projects at business development phase in the areas of imaging radars, target recognition on radar based images and then, these efforts turned into some R & D project contracts in remote sensing area as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Development project and some other projects concerning application of these technologies.

Besides, as the time evolves from 2005 to 2006, SDT has pursued to form the necessary infra structure required to operate an R & D firm in defense sector, such as SDT received ISO 9001:2000 quality system certification in April 2005 and “NATO & National Secret level” Facility Security Classification in June 2006 and also expanded her team to form the core engineering around the targeted expertise areas. Now, SDT is operating with over 60 employees, more than 75 % of them being direct engineering workforce. The engineering profile is mostly electronics and software engineers, but there are some mechanical and aerospace engineering workforce for mechanical design works and subcontractor management for hardware manufacturing.

In year 2007 while SDT was switching its gear in capability and technology development, SDT has also concentrated on improving its processes as well and completely revised and improved its processes and added new processes for a better product development. Starting with August 2007, SDT has moved to a new R & D facility in METU techno polis, 830 m2 area in Galyum Block in METU techno polis and pursuing her studies there as of today.

Defence Turkey: What are SDT’s major capabilities, products and technological superiorities?Could you please inform us about the programmes that carried out?

If I am to describe SDT’s major capabilities and technological superiority in a nut shell it is basically in algorithm intensive software ( particularly embedded) development, development of avionics subsystems and some interesting sub areas of simulation and modeling such as embedded simulation. It is worth to mention that when I say subsystem I not only mean the software but also hardware and mechanics with the required qualification. The following is a list of the areas around the concepts I described above:

• Remote sensing applications
• Sensor ( RF, IR, Acoustic based) signal/image processing,
• Image processing & pattern recognition applications,
• RF & IR EW systems
• Sensor data fusion & decision support systems
• Embedded simulation software
• Tactical environment simulation software
• 3D visual models
• Embedded software applications
• Mission planning software applications
• Mission management and support systems
• Digital Data/Video Recording Systems

When we look at the projects that SDT is involved in, it can be easily seen that they are all challenging projects and with high R&D content.
For example currently, SDT is developing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) together with ASELSAN under TUBITAK 1007 R&D support program. SAR is basically a imaging radar. By using known radar principles but employing complex signal and image processing techniques a high resolution image (resembling a photographic image) is obtained. There is a vast area of application opportunities, from very critical defense applications to civilian applications.
SDT’s main role in SAR project is:
- SAR signal processing algorithm and software development,
- an end to end SAR simulator development and
- digital data recording device design

In simulation area; SDT has a wide range of 3D visual models library covering hundreds of platforms and tens of airbases and these are utilized in HELSIM (Blackhawk and Seahawk Simulator) program of Turkey. Those are very modular, versatile, high resolution models and can be tailored to use for all of the future simulation & training systems and programs that require visual subsystems. SDT has also developed a tactical environment simulation software package in HELSIM program that can be adapted and utilized in other simulation applications.

SDT is also developing simulation of airborne sensors (radar, EW, weapons) and avionics in an airborne simulation program of Turkish Air Force under Ministry of National Defense’s R&D department.

In digital data & video recorders, SDT has developed an engineering prototype system in the early days of SDT and improved that prototype to the level of a production prototype and has successfully demonstrated it in DSA 2008 in Malaysia.

Here there is an important point to make. Even though SDT is under contract for the supply of recording devices to MALE UAV development program, we look our recording device business completely from a product point of view. SDT’s DDR/DVR development is based on a product family concept. The DDR to be supplied for TIHA program and the DVR to be supplied for T-38 modernization program is in fact members of SDT’s DDR/DVR product family. The base product is an indigenous design including mechanical, hardware (based on COTS electronics) and software dimensions. It will go through environmental qualification testing in second half of 2008 and the production shall start in the beginning of 2009.

As you may realize we are trying and taking steps to develop products that did not become the focus, at least the main focus or in the main stream of the interest of the local industry players before. These products are based on R&D and their specifications are comparable with the similar equipment in the international arena.
In summary, SDT is targeting to be an internationally competitive company in the remote sensing (image processing & signal processing), embedded simulation, digital data /video recording systems, EW applications and mission management/planning systems.

Defence Turkey: Within the past months, SDT and TAI have agreed on the supply of SDT DDR to MALE UAV program. Can you enlighten us about this project and the progress achieved in this project up to now?

As I have mentioned before, SDT’s vision is to be product based company. One of the initial product development programs is selected as Digital Data and Video Recorders (DDR/DVR) development. Previously, DDRs/DVRs were purchased from foreign sources by The Turkish Government and by the companies like TAI and ASELSAN for various airborne platforms, such as UAVs, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. SDT has analyzed the domestic market need for DDRs/DVRs and her own technology readiness level for DDRs/DVRs as a product focused engineering company. At the end of 2005, SDT found DDR/DVR this product line feasible and started to develop an engineering prototype for DDR/DVR to be a basis for a DDR/DVR product family with her own finance. In mid 2006, SDT has found the opportunity to demonstrate this prototype DDR/DVR to TAI and SSM. This demonstration is found to be successful and after that, SDT’s proposal is received by TAI for DDR need in indigenous MALE UAV. Then after contract negotiations between SDT and TAI for MALE UAV DDR, SDT’s DDR solution is selected by SSM/TAI for the program and a contract was signed between TAI and SDT on December 4, 2007. The contract schedule became effective on December 14, 2007 with the first delivery to take place on the 21th month (September 2009) to comply with MALE UAV master program schedule.

The Digital Data Recorder (DDR) consists of a data capture unit and a removable media module and is a fixed line replaceable unit on Turkish indigenous MALE UAV. As a basic feature, the DDR records payload data up to 45 Mbit/sec originated by the airborne communication interface and playbacks it to the communication link upon receiving the related command from active the flight control computer. The Digital Data Recorder can also handle telemetry data up to 200 Kbit/sec and captures it during the entire flight time. To achieve these functions, DDR provides 2 dual redundant MIL-STD-1553B bus interfaces in RT mode, 2 Ethernet interfaces, one for each airborne communication interface and a Pulse Per Second (PPS) interface for time synchronization.

As another DDR/DVR product family application to defense projects, SDT is also selected to provide the DVR equipment to TAI under the T-38 modernization program for the second batch 50 aircraft. The deliveries are planned to take place in the beginning of 2009. This is a derivate of SDT’s MALE UAV DDR to fit into T-38 DVR requirements. This (T-38 DVR) is also a member of SDT’s DDR/DVR product family and the qualified system will be ready for production deliveries by the beginning of 2009.

Defence Turkey: Can you provide us some information regarding the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) project that SDT develops in partnership with ASELSAN ? What is SDT’s work scope in this partnership? What are the properties of the system that will be developed?

As I pointed out before, our sensor signal processing is one of major target expertise areas of SDT and the first project that SDT has been involved in this area is Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) development program. SAR development program is managed by SSM and under TUB?TAK 1007 R & D support framework and also it is for Turkish Navy and Air Force need towards the national pay load of Turkish MALE UAV. In addition, satellite SAR pay load is also targeted after this R & D program has been completed.

The project started on June 15, 2007 and it is 54 month project. Project contract is signed among ASELSAN & SDT partnership, SSM (as the customer) and TUBITAK (R &D Support organization). The first year of the project has been completed and the project is on schedule.

Within the scope of the program, ASELSAN is developing the SAR hardware and GMTI mode. SDT is responsible for SAR modes (spot light and strip map modes) signal processing algorithms and software and an end to end SAR simulation tool (including target and the environment) and also the digital recording device design. There are also universities and research organizations involved in the project as consultants both to SDT and ASELSAN.

The SAR simulator is, I believe, of particular interest. Once it is fully developed it will be a unique design and feasibility analysis tool for future SAR development programs including SAR for satellite platforms.

The targeted SAR will be a high resolution SAR with Spotlight, Strip and GMTI modes.

Defence Turkey: Among important capabilities of SDT, simulation and modeling take places an important part and as we know, SDT has been cooperating with HAVELSAN in HELSIM project of Turkey. What are the activities performed in HELSIM project by SDT? Can you provide us about the current status?

Simulation & Modeling area is among one of the major capabilities of SDT and SDT had her first contract in this area. Back in July 2005, SDT has signed first two contracts of SDT in HELSIM program, namely Blackhawk and Seahawk simulation program. HAVELSAN is the main contractor for the program and the procurement agency is SSM and the end user is Turkish Land Forces and Navy. SDT’s work scope in HELSIM is to develop hundreds of 3D visual models (platforms and airbase models) and also to provide tactical environment simulation software where various platforms, threats, sensors, ECM/ECCM features have been modeled Both work packages (3D visual models and tactical environment simulator) have been delivered to main contractor HAVELSAN. Integration activities are currently going on at HAVELSAN.

This project will lead SDT to upcoming similar nature projects as the supplier of similar work packages as a result of the expertise and libraries developed by SDT under the industrialization concepts of SSM.

Defence Turkey: SDT will take a role in GAOHTAS (Image Analysis and Automatic Target Identification) project under TUBITAK 1007 R &D support. What is the scope of this project? Which capabilities of SDT will be utilized in this project?

The purpose of GAOHTS (Image Analysis and Automatic Target Identification) project is to develop the software algorithms and software tool;

- to analyze the images obtained from E/0, FLIR, LOROP sources and SAR and SLAR sources and also
- to identify target automatically (to develop an decision support aid tool to the intelligence operator) based on images obtained from E/0, FLIR, LOROP sources and SAR and SLAR sources
The project is awarded to a business partnership composed of HAVELSAN, ASELSAN, SDT and METU and HAVELSAN being the pilot member. The project protocol is signed between the business partnership members and SSM in Jan 2008. It is a TUBITAK R & D support project. The project is in TUBITAK science panels and the project schedule is expected to start within third quarter of 2008.The project schedule is 36 months. It is very good example of a partnership among large companies and SME and a university.

SDT’s role here is to develop all software algorithms and software for radar (SAR and SLAR) based images. SDT’s image processing and SAR knowledge will be utilized in the project. Also, SDT will be providing some set of reference data to aid the identification process.

Defence Turkey: What are the other projects that SDT is conducting or working on? Can you provide us some more information on that?

In addition to the SAR R & D project, SDT is also providing a SAR/MTI-ISAR system solution to TAI under TAI’s indigenous MALE UAV program for the first two UAV platforms to be delivered in 2010 in partnership with an institute under National Academy Sciences of Ukrainian. This solution is based on a previously developed SAR system of Ukraine and it is to be customized to unique modes and requirements of TAI under MALE UAV program. The project contract is signed in the beginning of June 2008 and it is expected to be effective in August 2008. It is a two year program.

Moreover, SDT is also selected by a European Consortium to take place in ALICIA project (All Condition Operations and Innovative Cockpit Infrastructure) proposal under Framework Program 7 (FP7). ALICIA proposal was provided to FP7 European authority in the beginning of May 2008. The program scope is to develop basic cockpit architectures for the aircraft by utilizing new technologies to enable aircraft to operate (take off and land) under all conditions.

Within the scope of her workshare SDT will develop applications that create a pilot perspective image of the runway area. These applications will utilize images and signals obtained from different on board sensors such as SAR, Radar, Optical and IR sensors. The aim of this work is to improve the approach and landing operation, by forming a visual aid (runway image) and appropriate signaling information under bad whether or low visibility.

SDT is also following the projects that are in SDT’s areas of interest and expertise. For example, SDT plans to expand RF signal processing knowledge into acoustic signal processing and working towards that area in terms of business development and engineering infrastructure. In addition, IR sensors signal processing in EW and missile guidance is another area that SDT is targeting under sensor signal processing and SDT is currently working towards certain projects in this area at business development phase.

SDT is also following some other radar application projects in Turkish defense market.

SDT is also working towards some derivatives of Digital Video/Data Recorder such as Mission Support System (MSS) for some target airborne modernization projects.

Moreover, SDT is also following some simulation projects within her capabilities as a follow on to HELSIM (Blackhawk and Seahawk simulator) project.

On the other hand, SDT is competing as one of the short listed potential local contenders in some project tenders, such as GOKTURK satellite ground station image processing, archiving and customer interface and order management software work packages.

Defence Turkey: What are SDT’s infrastructure studies and plans with respect to quality system and processes?

As I mentioned SDT’s quality system is ISO-9001:2000 certified. Furthermore SDT has passed through supplier qualification cycle of TAI and SSM and entered into TAI’s and SSM’s qualified supplier’s list. In year 2007 SDT has a major revision in its software development processes and now it is totally in line with SEI CMM level 3 requirements. Currently all the software development activities are being conducted accordingly. It is needless to say that SDT’s quality system is always under a continuous improvement process to reflect the practical experience and lessons learned back to the processes themselves.

In 2009, SDT is targeting to receive EN 9100 (AS 9100) certification that is used in aviation industry.

Defence Turkey: Can you provide us some information about SDT’s international and export activities?

What are the projects that SDT takes place in international platform?

I have to admit that we are not much in international market. It is mainly due to the fact that we are heavily involved in increasing the technological level and developing products that can compete in the international market. I am sure that by year 2009 we will progress much more in that direction.

An important attempt that resulted positively is our involvement in the FP 7 project, called ALICIA (All Condition Operations and Innovative Cockpit Infrastructure) in a European Consortium for which I provided some details previously

Also, SDT is seeking a role in Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program in simulation area and also digital data/video recorder.

Defence Turkey: What are your export targets and strategies in the near term ?

SDT’s aim is to sell her products in Turkey first and then, export the same or similar products and capabilities in export market. SDT aims to export at least one of SDT’s products in simulation and modeling (3D models etc.) or SAR capabilities or digital data/video recorders by the end of 2010.

Defence Turkey: In which products and capabilities do you think that SDT has much more competitive advantage?

Definitely at the first instance, it is recording device business. SDT has her own Digital data/Video Recorder (DVR/DDR) and this is a competitive product family that can be utilized in various platforms.

Also, SDT has mature high resolution 3D model library. The library is very rich and competitive library that can be utilized in various training simulators.

Besides, the SAR simulator that SDT will develop as a professional tool is a very unique and competitive tool that can be utilized even for payload mission planning and for design optimization of any airborne radar.

In summary, SDT’s products and capabilities in sensor signal processing, digital video/data recorders and simulation & modeling are competitive and high quality and SDT will seek the export market in these capabilities.