Legend C2 system now “operational urgent”

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The SA Army’s requirement for an information and communications technology (ICT) based command-and-control (C2) system is now an “Operational Urgent” need.

Armscor, the state arms acquisition agency, last week placed contract variation order on SAAB Systems South Africa to design, supply, delivery, implement, commission and provide interim logistic support of an “Operational Urgent” C2 system.

Pic: The current “state of the art”, a map table with wooden blocks to indicate units and sub units. The table, depicting the SA Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatlha in the Northern Cape province, depicts dispositions to a brigade night attack at Exercise Sebol, November 2006. A version of Chaka was deployed during that exercise and according to reports had a material impact on outcomes.    

Reference

Order

Date

Value

Awarded to

TEL/2006/581

Design, supply, delivery, implementation, commissioning and interim logistic support of an “Operational Urgent” command and control system for the SANDF

12 Jan 2010

R411 898,64

SAAB Systems SA

Pretoria

It is understood the R411 898.64 deal is an extension of an existing R30 million-plus contract awarded to SAAB in mid-2008 to provide the SA Army with its first-ever integrated computer-based C2 system. More extension are expected in coming months. Saab pipped several other contenders to the post to win Project Legend, including international contractors, with a locally-developed solution called Chaka and named for the Zulu Napoleon.

SAAB SA CEO Riaz Salojee at the time said the contract was “hotly contested” as “whoever wins has business for the next 30 to 40 years”. The contract was originally valued at R27 million but it is understood “specification creep” has pushed the price over the R30 million threshold, although, by how much, is not known.

The company says Chaka enables a brigade commander and his staff to enjoy situational awareness unequal to that available up to now, plan operations and electronically send the resulting operational orders to subordinate commanders and control the execution of their plans.
A major leap forward

SAAB Systems SA MD Willie Bothma added the deal represented a major leap forward in the utilisation of IT to improve the operational effectiveness of the SA Army, the SA National Defence Force and its Joint Operations Division that exercises C2 over all deployed forces. “Planning time will be reduced drastically and orders can now be sent instantaneously in near real-time”, said Bothma. He added that Chaka is a fully South African system developed over several years by South Africans in close cooperation with the end user.
“It is of special significance that the Chaka can also integrate with the conflict simulation system supplied by Saab Systems SA to the SANDF Centre for Conflict Simulation (CONSIM) [in 2007]. This will enable the SANDF to ‘train as you fight and fight as you train’,” he continued. “The fact that the system is truly South African, guarantees continuous, cost-effective support of the system as well as the possibility of developing any additions to the system according to evolving needs. This puts the SANDF in full control of their system”.

SAAB Systems SA previously also developed and built the heart of SA Air Force’s Air Picture Display System (APDS), which is that service’s air mission C2 system. “With this new contract Saab Systems SA adds the landward command and control domain to the existing air command and control domain in one business entity,” said Bothma. “The advantage to the SANDF is that the expertise gained in the air environment is also available for the landward Command and Control domain. Furthermore, Saab Systems SA has already integrated elements of both systems to move towards the achievement of a more integrated joint command and control system for the SANDF.”

The system architecture the Army sought had to consist of a static C2 system to support a brigade headquarters, mobile C2 systems to support battalion and company commanders, and location sensors, called “Impi” to track own forces. The Army wants enough of these to support three simultaneous peace support operations elsewhere in Africa and one training exercise at home.

Bidders had to fulfil 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 required that the “source code of the system shall reside in SA for Department of Defence use”.
Other orders

A number of other C2 contracts, worth just over R17.3 million, mostly for radio equipment, have also been awarded in recent months.

The 17 374 005.70 includes R568 803.00 for a “rapid deployable tactical communication headquarters”, R9 714 651.00 to the CSIR for a system design for a new static and mobile defence communication network for the DoD (Projects Radiate and Billet) and a number of purchases of US-made Harris radio transceivers and other communications equipment for the Special Forces.

Reference

Order

Date

Value

Awarded to

AB/IMT-2009/521

Rohde & Schwarz PR100 Receiver and Accessories

25 Jan 2010

R208 506.00

Protea Electronics

Bramley

Johannesburg

ETEL/2009/264

Supply and delivery of Harris manpack transceivers to the South African National Defence Force (Special Forces)

10 Dec 2009

R5 705 796.20

Reutech Communications

Pinetown

ETEL/2009/177

Rapid deployable tactical communication headquarters

26 Nov 2009

R568 803.00

Pondo HR and IT Solutions CC

Linksfield

ETEL/2009/298

Supply and delivery of mobile and handheld very high frequency equipment for the DoD Special Forces

19 Nov 2009

R101 901.00

Natcom Electronics Silvertondale

ETEL/2009/268

System design for a new static and mobile defence communication network for the DoD

19 Nov 2009

R9 714 651.00

CSIR

Pretoria

TEL/2009/3827

Development and industrialisation of the very and ultra high frequency radio component – extension of ETEL/2008/110

5 Nov 2009

R932 646.50

Reutech Communications Pinetown

ETEL/2009/287

Supply and delivery of very and ultra high frequency antenna equipment for the DoD Special Forces

5 Nov 2009

R141 702.00

Ikwezi Maintenance and Communications



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