Defence tender deadline extended

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 04 Apr 2007

The Department of Defence has postponed the closing date for bids for a R27 million command and control (C2) project by about two months, to give nine vendors more time to complete their paperwork.

The project, dubbed "Legend", is the SA Army's first foray into ICT-driven network-centric warfare. C2 systems are part of a complex array of hardware and software that allow military commanders to direct their troops and plan ahead.

Project Legend is said to have been eagerly anticipated for several years now by defence contractors operating in the country, as it will set the tenor for the army's C2 programme for the next 30 years.

Riaz Saloojee, head of defence business at Saab Grintek, says the contract will be "hotly contested" as "whoever wins has business for the next 30 to 40 years".

Bidders must fulfil a range of requirements, including a commitment to "a local support and enhancement capability within SA that can maintain/upgrade the full software suite for at least 10 years after commissioning".

The tender documents also require the "source code of the system shall reside in SA for Department of Defence use". This may pose a problem for vendors proposing imported solutions.

Other than Saab Grintek, quotations have been requested from Fulcrum Information Technologies, EADS SA, Denel, African Defence Systems, CyberSim, FIMM Works, Elmer Communications Systems and Unified Data.

The system architecture the army seeks must consist of a static C2 system to support the brigade staff, mobile C2 systems to support battalion and company commanders, and location sensors to track "blue force" units of all sizes. The army wants enough of these to support three simultaneous peace support operations elsewhere in Africa and one training exercise at home.

The army expects the system to have an initial operational capability by next year and for that to have an operational life of 10 years.

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