Progress on new generation tactical communication for the SANDF


Development of a new generation tactical communication system for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has reached an advanced stage according to the 2014/15 Armscor annual report.

The new system will be a digital one and will provide for all tactical communication requirements of all four arms of service – the SA Air Force, SA Army, SA Military Health Service and SA Navy. It will, the report states, ensure complete inter-operability between all users across the SANDF’s services.

The new system encompasses state of the art transmission and information security techniques, incorporating semi real-time data link performance characteristics, as well as digital voice communication capabilities.
“Development of the various elements in the systems has progressed exceptionally well and will result in the first tactical communications system in the world that will provide complete inter-operability between all element of the battlefield without making use of gateways or protocol convertors,” the report made public earlier this month says.

There are seven major sub-systems in the system and development and industrialisation of the first four – HF (high frequency), V/UHF (very/ultra-high frequency), IPCS (intra platform communication systems) and SRCS (short range communication system) were successfully completed during the year under review.

Initial production orders for the complete system were placed in the latter part of the 2014/15 financial year and the first production equipment will be delivered in the first quarter of 2016.

Also on the communications front, Armscor reports progress on the upgrade, expansion and augmentation of the static and mobile elements of the Defence Communication Network.
“The present static and mobile networks and systems have been in service for more than 25 years and some systems are no longer sustainable. The present network cannot accommodate data the transfer requirements of future applications,” the reports states adding, “the programme’s purpose is to create a single network for the DoD (Department of Defence) as opposed to the different and largely incompatible legacy networks currently in use”.

With the current networks the backbone of SANDF communications one of the biggest challenges is to introduce a new generation technology network in a new integrated system without affecting performance or disrupting services provided by the current network.

High level technical architecture for the system is complete and its functional baseline has also been established. Detail design has been contracted and will be completed in the 2015/16 financial year as will detailed specifications for the management system, the deployable and gateway components of the system.

This will pave to way for Armscor to initiate a partial acquisition process for various sub-systems but a lack of resources has seen the programme delayed by “almost a year”. This will see roll-out of the first sub-systems in the static environment of the Defence Communications Network happen early in 2016.