Saab scoops Army deal

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The military awards Saab a million-rand conflict simulation deal.Saab Systems SA has won a R53 million contract from the defence department to provide “support for conflict simulation” in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), says the state arms acquisition agency, Armscor.

The five-year contract was awarded in August and will see Saab support the Centre for Conflict Simulation (ConSim) of the SA National War College (SANWC). The service-based contract will see Saab Systems SA support every SANDF exercise requiring conflict simulation.

ConSim is responsible for all conflict simulation in the SANDF using Saab Systems SA`s BattleTek software. ConSim also assists in the mission readiness training of units prior to their deployment northwards on peacekeeping assignments in support of SA`s foreign policy.

“The contract… brings greater stability to the relationship between Saab Systems SA and the customer,” says CEO Willie Bothma. “It also underscores how Saab Systems SA is partnering with the SANDF in maintaining and further developing a key strategic capability.

“BattleTek was developed with full collaboration with the SANDF, especially the SANWC and 43 and 46 SA Brigade headquarters,” says Bothma.

Simulation-based decision support assists the military in making better decisions and equipment acquisitions based on the ability to “wargame” the likely outcomes of various courses of action under different scenarios.

“It enables the SANDF to conduct and manage exercises of up to campaign level and is configured in such a way that the participants do not realise that they are using simulated data and can thus exercise in a very realistic manner,” adds Bothma.

Local solution

BattleTek is a South African software package with all its intellectual property residing within the country. Saab, through its recent acquisition of CyberSim, has an 11-year track record supporting conflict simulation in the SANDF.

It consists of a:

* Constructive simulation capability
* Live simulation tracking capacity
* Main events list tool
* Game administrative management and executive system
* Lessons identified and lessons learned system

Bothma says BattleTek is not only important for military decision-support, but has also been adapted for use in civil security applications such as disaster management and policing. “There is also mounting international interest in our systems,” says Bothma.

Blue-force tracking

Another functionality added to the system last year is the ability to track real troops real-time via GPS, a technology called “blue-force tracking”.

The need for such systems was demonstrated by the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, when more American soldiers were killed by their colleagues than by the enemy. During World War II, 200 soldiers were killed recapturing an island near Alaska – before the Americans realised the attack was unopposed by the Japanese.

Blue-force tracking relies on location devices similar to those fitted to motor vehicles for insurance purposes and uses satellite or terrestrial GSM networks to report the co-ordinates of real forces.

At the Lohatlha military combat training centre in the Northern Cape, blue-force tracking also allows instructors to augment small numbers of actual troops in the training area with virtual soldiers and simulated units. This takes care of flanks and provides an opposing force to practise against, "which is much more realistic", according to another Saab Systems SA official. BattleTek "integrates the real and the simulated world”.

Bothma says BattleTek is not only important for military decision-support, but has also been adapted for use in civil security applications such as disaster management and policing. “There is also mounting international interest in our systems,” says Bothma.



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