Saab showcases soldier training solution


Saab yesterday gave a live demonstration of its Deployable Tactical Engagement Simulation (DTES) system, which is used by the British Army for training is soldiers in Kenya and which is being promoted to the South African military.

The DTES system was designed to train a battlegroup with an opposing force (OPFOR) and a civilian population, Saab said. Each soldier carries simulation equipment, including a Personnel Detection Device (PDD) consisting of a laser-detector vest, GPS, communications with a tracking system and a link to a laser small arms transmitter (SAT). Each soldier’s weapon carries a laser sight that activates when the soldier fires a round (such as a blank training round). If another soldier gets hit by a laser shot, his PDD will indicate that he has been killed.

The entire training scenario is tracked via a computer in real time and data is sent to a command post, allowing for comprehensive after-action play-by-play review.

Saab demonstrated its DTES system at the Murrayhill Special Forces training facility outside Pretoria, as part of the Land Forces Africa conference this week. During the simulation, nearly a dozen South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers approached a building in two Mamba armoured vehicles, before a simulated IED knocked out one of the Mambas (also fitted with a simulation system that marked it inoperable). The troops then dismounted and, moving through tall grass, approached the building. Firing hundreds of rounds at the enemy, they proceeded to capture their objective.

Saab is hopeful that the SANDF will order the DTES training system, which is attracting “considerable” interest from other nations. It is already in service with the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK), which has been using it for combined training since August 2009. In April 2012 Saab was awarded a two year contract extension to continue offering the training service to the British Army.

As part of the agreements with the UK, Saab will provide the DTES service for five training periods each year with an option for two additional ones, with 98% availability. Brian Drummond, the manager of the Saab base site in Nanyuki, Kenya, who is responsible for all logistic support and maintenance, said they have achieved an average 99.7% availability rate by maintaining a buffer stock of equipment at the base site, having forward-deployed technicians from Saab in Sweden and Saab Grintek Defence in South Africa.

Saab also demonstrated some of its other technology at Murrayhill, including a throwable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a hexacopter UAV. Also on display was the company’s Chaka command and control system.
“By lending technological support to the British Army in Kenya or providing logistics and infrastructure to the SANDF, we are extremely pleased, as Saab South Africa, that our contribution is assisting defence forces fulfil their mandates,” stated Magnus Lewis-Olsson, CEO of Saab Grintek Defence.

He was referring to Saab’s involvement in Operation Corona, the SANDF’s border patrol initiative, which necessitates army training camps along the northern and eastern border between South Africa and Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Saab is currently engaged in upgrading operational base facilities for the SANDF, following the re-launch late in 2012 of the upgraded and expanded Operational Base Madimbo. This base, east of Musina near the Zimbabwe border, is the first of a number to be modernised and improved since the SANDF assumed responsibility for border security.

Operational Base Madimbo includes a command centre, airstrip, a parade ground, water purification facilities, and new medical and two way radio battery charging facilities. Roads, the electrical supply, and sewerage systems, and a vehicle wash bay with oil and water separators were upgraded, while new messes with enlarged kitchen, laundry and recreation facilities were installed. The base also includes a new military police facility.

Saab has camp building experience on peacekeeping operations, having assisted the African Union and the United Nations on the continent. One mission has seen Saab setting up a complete turn-key camp solution in the horn of Africa. In the same multilateral environments, Saab said it has successfully provides explosive ordance disposal products in East and West Africa for training of and for safe unexploded ordance and IED (Improvised Explosive Device) destruction purposes. The company has also provided maintenance, repair and overhaul activities for vehicles, generators, water purification plants, air-conditioning units and patrol boats.