The Government has contracted Danish firm Systematic to provide a new $11m battle management system as part of its Network Enabled Army programme.
Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the new system would enable NZDF to gain a complete picture of the situation on the ground and share information quickly.
“The SitaWare Battle Management System and integration consultancy will cost $11 million over three years [and] the purchase is part of a programme to digitise the Army to provide modern command, communication, battle management and surveillance capabilities,” Brownlee said,
“The SitaWare system will link headquarters, units, vehicles and individuals, allowing Army to get a full picture of the battlefield and share information quickly. It will also enable the Defence Force to operate seamlessly with partners when deployed in a coalition,” he said.
He explained that the Army presently relies mostly on manual processes to receive and disseminate information. “This system won’t change what the Army does, but it will provide advanced tools and techniques to support our soldiers, such as ‘blue force tracking’ and a common operating picture of troop movements,” Brownlee said.
He added: “The SitaWare system has been trialled extensively by the Army for several years, and is supported by local company Eagle Technology Group.”
The Government said the purchase was one of a number of projects worth more than $100 million to provide modern communications to those Army units most often deployed by the government.
“These projects form the first tranche of the broader Network Enabled Army programme, allowing the Army to take advantage of new technologies to enable better planning and decision making,” it said.
According to the Army’s website the goal of the NEA Programme is “to enhance the NZDF’s ability to support deployed land forces by improving its battlefield command and control system, communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor systems.”
It says: “Networked sensors, a clear and current picture of the dispositions of people and assets, chat rooms for mission planning, decision support software and links to ships and aircraft are all necessary to conduct multi-agency operations.
“The technology is becoming more readily available, and will enable the rapid control and decision-making tools necessary for the preservation of life and mission success to be deployed early in any directed operation in areas of responsibility, whether in coalition or independent operations.”
It lists projects under the programme as being:
- Battlefield communications infrastructure
- Digital battle management system
- High capacity data radio network
- System management
- Network platform systems
- Surveillance and reconnaissance systems
- Decision support applications
- Synthetic training and simulation
The NEA program was launched in 2013 with the Government reported as saying it planned to spend $600m over 20 years. Programme manager Colonel Phil Collett was reported saying that, even with this expenditure, the Defence Force would only be playing catch-up with its overseas counterparts.
However a presentation on the Defence web site says the programme will run for 12 years from late 2014 to 2016 and will be split into four tranches.
Dec 14 – Jun 18 Deliver a network enabled Task Group Headquarters, Light Infantry Company and NZSOF elements
Jul 18 – Jun 20 Deliver a network enabled Light Task Group including: Combat Service Support Group Deliver sensor systems
Jul 20 – Jun 23 Deliver a network enabled Combined Arms Task Group, including:NZLAV Company, Artillery Battery, Engineer Group
Jul 23 – Jun 26
Complete the network enablement of the Battalion Group.