Saab Grintek Defence (Saab) is offering its BattleTek command and staff training system to African countries under a more cost effective proposition, with two options: a buy-to-own and a pay-per use.

This is in line with the defence company’s strategy to continue evolving its products and business models, including the expansion of its simulation and training offerings.

In the case of the buy-to-own option, Saab is offering to provide BattleTek to African countries without licensing fees. Customers will only have to pay for customisation, installation and subsequent services and support of the deployed system. The services and support will be implemented by means of an agreed multi-year contract.

Customers opting for the pay-per-use option will be charged a per-student fee for a turn-key solution every time it is required. One of the primary benefits of this option is that the customer is not locked in to a long-term product maintenance and support obligation as would be the case where the product is bought and owned, Saab told defenceWeb.

The product support and maintenance will remain the responsibility of Saab as the service provider. This will include the provision of qualified exercise facilitators and system technicians during use by a customer as well as taking care of the inevitable obsolescence issues prevalent with modern simulation and training systems.

BattleTek4Africa was launched at the African Conference of Commandants (ACoC) Annual Conference held in South Africa in early November 2017. The new proposition will also be showcased at events such Africa Aerospace and Defence in Pretoria later this year.

BattleTek supports war simulation exercises and training on the tactical and operational level of command and helps improve leadership and practicing the ‘art of war’. Saab believes BattleTek will contribute to peace and stability in Africa as better trained militaries will contribute to better peacekeeping operations.

Military personnel need to train for a variety of complex and diverse missions, including counter-terrorism, asymmetric and traditional threats, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance missions and need to rapidly adapt to the latest technology, doctrine and tactics. As a command training system, BattleTek has a proven track record to meet all these requirements by enabling commanders to train for all the different contingencies and complexities associated with modern full-spectrum operations ranging from military through disaster management to natural resource conservation, Saab said.

BattleTek also has applications in the private security and parapublic markets. For instance, South Africa used it during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and subsequent Africa Cup of Nations where it interfaced between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), police and other civil security players such as emergency services. For these events the PeaceTek and EventTek derivatives were used.

Saab and Armscor are exploring options to collaborate on the BattleTek4Africa initiative in support of enlarging their footprint into Africa as part of their turnaround strategy and are currently engaging with several countries who are interested in the system.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is in a way an ambassador for BattleTek as it uses it in exercises involving foreign nations. BattleTek is not just aimed at militaries in Africa and other developing countries but companies and organisations that operate in Africa. A couple of overseas companies are, for instance, exploring the option of using BattleTek for African clients.

Saab is confident BattleTek will contribute strongly to its revenue, especially as there is an increase in demand for simulation-based training in light of decreasing defence budgets around the world. This is due to its cost effectiveness and excellent student monitoring and learning experience. For instance, it is 30 times cheaper to fire a laser round from a firearm simulator than a real bullet, and after-action reviews from simulators makes for better student performance during subsequent live fire exercises.

BattleTek was developed originally for the SANDF in 1995, and has been continuously upgraded since. It can be integrated with other simulation systems across the world, as long as they are both High Level Architecture (HLA) compatible.

The South African military is using BattleTek SA, a customised version of BattleTek IV, which has been used to support joint and combined multinational command exercises in South Africa. A BattleLab trial in South Africa in 2014-15 saw the integration of BattleTek IV, Virtual Battlespace 3, Chaka and Saab’s laser-based Gamer live training system.

Saab offers a wide array of layered simulation and training systems, such as its Gamer Manpack live fire system, small arms simulator, and driver and pilot simulators.