Three companies make the cut for a crucial multimillion-rand SANDF project.Three companies have made the cut for a small, but crucial SANDF ICT project, code-named Legend. The R27 million project will determine the SA Army`s command-and-control ICT infrastructure for at least the next 10 years.
Sources close to the project say the shortlist includes African Defence Systems (ADS), Saab Grintek and local partner Cybersim, and EADS with its local collaborator Fulcrum.
ADS is part of the French Thales group, the company linked to former deputy president Jacob Zuma`s self-styled financial advisor, Schabir Shaik. Shaik is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in connection with theft and fraud.
Thales remains under investigation for allegedly having offered Zuma a bribe. ADS, has, to date, not said much about its technology offering.
Saab Grintek is now largely Swedish-owned and is a major player in the local ICT market. Its Legend offering is a solution largely locally designed and developed by Cybersim, a Pretoria-based company it owns a 25% share of. Riaz Saloojee, head of defence business at Saab Grintek, says the contract will be “hotly contested” as “whoever wins has business for the next 30 to 40 years”.
EADS, the European defence giant, was some years ago implicated in a scheme that offered some Parliamentarians, officials and SANDF officers discount vehicles. Former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni was later jailed for defrauding Parliament on the details of the discount he received.
Fulcrum, which has also teamed with EADS in providing the SA Army with a new-generation infantry anti-tank missile, under the rubric “Project Kingfisher“, has customised the EADS Faust C2 system, in use in Germany and in the Middle East, for local conditions.
Bidders must fulfill a range of requirements, including a commitment to “having a local support and enhancement capability within SA that can maintain/upgrade the full software suite for at least 10 years after commissioning”. The tender documents also require that the “source code of the system shall reside in SA for Department of Defence use”. This may pose a problem for vendors proposing imported solutions.
The system architecture the army seeks must consist of a static C2 system to support the brigade staff, mobile C2 systems to support battalion and company commanders, and location sensors to track “blue force” units of all sizes. The army wants enough of these to support three simultaneous peace support operations elsewhere in Africa and one training exercise at home.