ICT gets tactical

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 27 Mar 2007

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is engaged in a number of large ICT projects worth many hundreds-of-millions of rands. This emerged from a written reply to a question asked in Parliament.

The military is investing in everything from business process management (BPM) tools, to new radios for fighter jets as part of the controversial multibillion-rand strategic defence package.

Planning tools

Project Loquacious is aimed at establishing BPM in the Department of Defence. "The requirement stems from the need to develop, integrate and align the department's core and support business processes to its organisational strategies and the guiding regulatory framework," the answer reads.

The department says developmental work on the project has been completed and a "pilot project has been run to establish the meta-models applicable to its processes. An enterprise architecture toolset has been acquired in terms of the defence enterprise information systems master plan."

Project Balanced Scorecard addresses the SANDF's need for a "strategic management system that will underpin the performance management of the organisation".

A "first order business solution" will be implemented during the coming financial year, allowing a fully-fledged solution to be acquired by January 2009. The department is also looking for planning tools as part of Project Gejima, to assist with the "organisational structuring process" as a result of shortcomings in its current systems.

Tactical technology

On the equipment side, Project Radiate entails the acquisition of a new family of tactical radios to replace 30-year-old equipment. The project is in the definition phase, with the project study to be completed by mid-year.

Project Billet will entail the provision of a static and mobile telecommunications network to enhance command and control. "The project is in the concept phase. The functional study is complete and the staff requirement should be ready... by April 2007." As with Radiate, there will be interoperability with legacy systems.

Project Legend is a tactical command and control capability for the infantry component of an integrated joint task force. The tender process closes at month's end. A supplier and a formal acquisition are expected by July.

Project Enlace involves the development of new-generation of very-high and ultra-high frequency on-board radios for the SA Air Force. The Reutech Defence Industries ACR500 radio system, and associated communications control systems, has already been fitted into the Rooivalk, Agusta A-109 and Super Lynx helicopters and the Hawk and Gripen fighter systems.

According to the department's annual report, the Air Force also seeks to upgrade the avionics of its Astra basic flight trainer aircraft - the tender closed earlier this month. It will fit optronic sensors - "eyes in the sky" - and a datalink to four of its Cessna Caravan light transporters as part of a "tactical intelligence system" requirement.

The SANDF is also investing in tactical electronic warfare equipment for the Army under Project Chamber. This will allow 5 Signal Regiment to monitor or jam hostile radios in a combat or peacekeeping environment, something the SANDF regards as a "critical support capability". A functional study is expected by mid-year.

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