Saab Grintek Defence (SGD) has been awarded a contract by Armscor (IMT – Institute Maritime Technology) for a TactiCall Integrated Communications System, which will be installed at the Navy’s Silvermine Maritime Domain Awareness Centre (MDAC) by the end of May this year.
In an announcement today, Saab Grintek Defence said that TactiCall connects different communication technologies regardless of radio band, frequency and hardware, enhancing efficiency, overview and increasing operations tempo.
“The current system being installed can be further developed into a much more advanced TactiCall solution. A more advanced system will connect personnel across all communication media, including radios (Tetra, HF, VHF and UHF) and phones, and creates a central control point for public address and general alarm (PAGA), closed-circuit TV (CCTV), video conferencing and non-directional beacons (NDB),” SGD said.
“The TactiCall system makes communication easier, more efficient and is platform-agnostic, ensuring that no vessel or station will ever be out of contact with other sites,” said Hein van den Ende, Saab Marketing Executive: Maritime for Sub-Saharan Africa at Saab. “The system integrates a multitude of different frequency bands, networks and radio equipment into one central user interface solution that makes communication easy, secure and seamless.”
The system connects all communication elements through a single IP network, creating ‘TactiCall Nets’- virtual talk groups with unlimited users to ensure efficient communication at all times. The central user interface supports a broad range of push-to-talk (PTT) and audio devices, meaning that new clients can still use their existing infrastructure.
TactiCall is managed via the Operator Control Panel, with a web-based application enabling the operator to manage the system via the internet. In the future the solution could be upgraded to also include key features imperative to military operations, including secure voice separation with multiple levels of security, according to Saab Grintek Defence.
The contract was signed as a result of a live demonstration during a recent joint exercise, Saab said.
Between 28 October and 7 November 2014, a Maritime Domain Awareness Experiment was held in Saldanha Bay, Western Cape, in which the Brazilian and Indian Navies also participated. According to Armscor, the maritime experiment covered data fusion from multiple sensors with regard to border safeguarding. Engineers and scientists from Armscor, the Institute for Maritime Technology, CSIR, Saab, Reutech Radar Systems, GEW, Peralex, Paramount and Ports Authority took part.
The experiment involved a South African Air Force tactical mobile radar, Koiler aerial observation system, SA Army Thutwla radar, three SA Navy vessels, special forces vessels, Indiza unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), electro-optical system, Reutech Spider radar, GEW EW equipment, Paramount Civet UAV and other systems.
“Our vision is to see all MDACs along the Sub-Saharan coastline connected with TactiCall. This will enable task- coalition- and special force operations, military arms, air force, marine detachments and even civil and NGO agencies to communicate effectively with each other to keep the continent’s coastlines safe,” said van den Ende.
The South African Navy in 2012 announced it would establish two Maritime Domain Awareness Centres, one in Silvermine to cover the west coast and the other in Durban to cover the east coast.
Van den Ende earlier said that installing a fully integrated communications and warning system such as TactiCall includes ways of monitoring equipment and communicating with personnel, igniting action immediately when required and avoiding damage to property and loss of life caused by un-noticed events.
He emphasised that TactiCall would be useful for the maritime security and oil and gas industry, as personnel on board a vessel need to be aware of all events around them – with the consequences of equipment failure or fire on board being potentially tragic. Saab said that detection systems like its R5 Supreme AIS Transponder System, which can detect vessels of all sizes from up to 30 km away, give crew sufficient time to identify any vessel approaching, and to call for assistance should they interpret an incoming vessel to be a threat.
“Adding more soldiers or security teams on patrol, or giving them more powerful weapons to protect themselves is not enough of a defence against piracy and kidnapping. By the time pirates board a vessel with the intention of stealing resources or kidnapping personnel to hold for ransom, it’s too late to prevent the attack, and the costs immediately soar beyond being controllable. Typically, these costs include lost production due to stoppages, insurance costs, repair and restoration costs after the event, but most importantly, the priceless cost of human life that should be avoided in all eventualities. The key to thwarting attacks is therefore early detection and prevention,” van den Ende said.
“There are also many different types of security threats facing the oil industry – oil is not only stolen from pipelines, but from points at every stage of the drilling and transporting process and through the manipulation of meters and shipping documents. This means that the problem is one of organised crime, rather than one of opportunistic theft, and that it is systemic rather than isolated to particular locations.
“The security costs associated with running an effective offshore oil business in Africa are immense. As the industry and related threats have evolved, and with many African resource fields within relatively easy reach of the coastline, security in these oil- and gas-rich regions has had to evolve beyond just protecting pipelines used in harvesting the resources. The protection of personnel on-board rigs and other associated vessels against security threats like piracy and kidnapping is vital in this volatile environment.
“There have been many developments in security around oil and gas fields in recent times, with companies like Saab customising existing globally-recognised security and defence solutions to respond directly to the needs of this sector. While each oil or gas drilling station belongs to a company rather than a country, the same principles of prevention, detection, and instant action that would be applied to the protection of a country should be applied to these properties.”