The SA Army has upped its spending on Project Legend, its drive to acquire “an operationally urgent command and control (C2) system.” The Army awarded SAAB Systems Grintek a R41 171 817 contract (ETEL/2006/581) on Thursday. This is is addition to a similar R411 898.64 contract in January.
As far as can be determined this award more than doubles the amount spent on the Chaka brigade-and-below C2 system. SAAB won a R30 million-plus contract in July 2008 to provide the SA Army
a static C2 system to support brigade headquarters, mobile C2 systems to support battalion and company commanders, and location sensors, called “Impi” to track own forces. The Army wanted enough of these to support three simultaneous peace support operations elsewhere in Africa and one training exercise at home.
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. 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”.
SAAB SA CEO Riaz Salojee in 2007 said the contract was “hotly contested” as “whoever wins has business for the next 30 to 40 years”. Other than SAAB, quotations have been requested from Fulcrum Information Technologies, EADS SA, Denel, African Defence Systems, CyberSim, FIMM Works, Elmer Communications Systems and Unified Data. The company said 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.
SAAB Systems SA MD Willie Bothma said in August 2008 the deal represented a major leap forward in the utilisation of information technology 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.
Bothma added that Chaka expanded on the C2 system supplied to the Air Defence Artillery for the Ground Based Air Defence System. “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 added.
“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,” Bothma further said.
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,” noted 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 Engineering News reported in August 2008 that Legend “was initiated in the period 2001/2002” but the Request for Proposals was only sent out to industry in December 2006. SAAB reportedly had 18 months after July 2008 in which to deliver its system to Armscor.
Chaka was developed on the back of years experience with a brigade-level wargaming solution called BattleTek. “Wargaming and C2 are actually two sides of the same coin – ‘train as you fight, fight as you train’,” SAAB Systems SA systems engineer Johan Maritz told Engineering News. “We are the only company in South Africa, and one of the few in the world, with this continuum between simulation and C2 systems.”
Pic: A column of Ratel ICV advance at the SA Army Combat Training Centre, Lohaltha, during an exercise in November 2006.