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Simulation training is an important tool with long-term benefits for budget conscious countries providing a realistic combat environment without the burden of heavy costs associated with traditional field exercises. As militaries evolve from analog to digital, simulation will become the popular choice especially on the African continent where military training is transitioning. The value of simulation is that it enables soldiers to train as close to mission reality as possible, improves individual and team combat awareness, and encourages decision-making skills, which are imperative to a successful mission. A soldier’s handling of equipment and his decision-making process are only as good as the training he receives.

Most simulation training solutions offered by providers can be tailored to requirements. Simulation training is broad and there are a number of companies worldwide who offer simulation products for airborne, maritime, and ground training as well as for the private security sector. Companies leading in simulation include:

  • Airbus Group SE
  • BAE Systems
  • CAE
  • Cubic
  • Elbit Systems
  • General Dynamics Corporation
  • L-3 Communications
  • Leonardo Spa
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Meggitt PLC
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Raytheon Company
  • Rheinmetall AG
  • Rockwell Collins Inc
  • Ruag
  • Saab AB
  • Textron Inc
  • Thales Group
  • The Boeing Company

Competition is definitely set to grow in this market, with new technologies and advanced and precise systems consistently emerging to keep ahead of the competition. For defence forces, simulation training draws on live, virtual, and constructive simulation.

Live Simulation

As close to mission reality as possible, live simulations consist of real soldiers, real or dummy weapons, and blank ammunition. Soldiers wear a harness-type system fitted with laser sensors, which provide analytical feedback. Ruag has such a system called the Gladiator, which integrates a soldier weapons with additional equipment and can provide differentiated and graphic hit displays, vulnerability models, medical care, position-finding in terrain and within buildings, active intervention in exercises, and after-action review for evaluation and tactical analysis. Saab’s soldier systems are interoperable with Multiple Integrated Laser engagement system (MILES) equipment.

Companies offering live simulation products usually provide weapon simulation solutions for various weapons such as grenade launchers, mortars, light and heavy machine guns, IEDs, guided missiles, antitank weapons, and mines. With regards to using vehicles as part of the simulation training exercise, Ruag offers vehicle-based laser components, which can be integrated into various vehicle types (unarmoured cargo and troop carriers, personnel carriers, battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured combat vehicles, and armoured cars). All of these simulation systems can be seamlessly integrated. Cubic too adapts its laser-based tactical engagement simulation systems for soldiers, vehicles, direct fire weapons, buildings, watercraft, and fixed structures.


Virtual Simulation

Picture ©RUAG SOTA

Virtual simulation places real soldiers in simulated environments with soldiers able to train in one facility with instant feedback on their performance. Cubic offers a full range of deployable virtual and immersive trainers to test a range of tactical and decision-making skills in virtual and immersive environments. Ruag’s SOTA system is installed in a room and immerses soldiers in a realistic battlefield environment. Virtual simulators can offer immersive screens for 3D sights and touch-screen monitors for interaction and communication.


Constructive Simulation

©BISim Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3)

Constructive simulation focuses on “what if” scenarios. In constructive simulations, the entire environment is simulated including participants, equipment, and terrain. Constructive simulations use computer modelling to move imaginary soldiers through various field scenarios. Such a system is Saab’s BattleTek 5, which was launched this year and is the latest immersive version of its command and staff training system. Developed by Saab’s South African subsidiary, Saab Grintek Defence (SGD), BattleTek was first developed for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1995. It can be integrated with other simulation systems, as long as they are both High Level Architecture (HLA) compatible. BattleTek 5 is an immersive experience and has been integrated with Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) Virtual Battlespace 3 (VBS3), which by using an Oculus Rift head-mounted display, can enable commanders to view the battlespace in a virtual environment. Ruag’s software, Osprey, immerses command post staff in extensive and complex conflicts spread over several kilometres and able to place up to 10 000 units at the trainee’s command.

South Africa is leading the way for Africa with the South African Army hosting a Simulation Symposium at the end of October. The symposium will focus on the importance of simulation training for force preparation as well as the need for integrated and interoperability capabilities (with common data configuration and data exchange technologies) to support the re-use of capabilities. The exhibition displays will include a range of simulations including live, virtual, constructive and serious gaming (LVC-SG) to support concepts of blended learning as new training methodology.

Simulation is immersive training and improves soldiers’ tactical decision-making process. Tight defence budgets require radical thinking and innovation in training approaches. Militaries should start evaluating how they train. African countries need to position themselves to best exploit new technologies, software programmes, and other applications to meet their training requirements within budgetary constraints.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


Rheinmetall Defence group has an impressive list of divisions and subsidiaries across international borders dealing in weapons and ammunition, vehicle systems, and electronic solutions. Even though the subsidiaries are responsible for their own respective market segments, Rheinmetall Defence has managed to strategically increase its overall global reach through these subsidiaries.

As a subsidiary of Rheinmetall Defence, Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd (RDM) is jointly owned by Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH of Germany (holding 51% of shares with 3 board members) and Denel (Pty) Ltd. of South Africa (holding 49% of shares with 2 board members). RDM was established in September 2008 when Denel divisions Somchem (Somerset West and Wellington sites), Swartklip, Boksburg, and Naschem were integrated into RDM. Surprisingly, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) accounts for only 6% of RDM’s business and they acquire the majority of their munitions from the company. RDM’s big business lies in exports.

With 1 416 employees, RDM specializes in ammunition and develops, designs, and manufactures large and medium calibre munitions excelling in the field of artillery, mortar, infantry systems, and plant engineering for various filling and lapping facilities. Currently, RDM’s order book accounts for one and a quarter years of production. RDM has been growing at 20% per year and continues to invest in upgrading its facilities with the next three years seeing another R550 million investment (it has invested R1.1 billion to date). RDM is also conscious of the environment and is involved in protecting wildlife and sustaining biodiversity at three of its four production sites.


Around 70% of RDM’s current production comprises artillery rounds and mortars. In addition to producing a wide variety of ammunition such as the 105 and 155 mm artillery shells; 60, 81, and 120 mm mortars; 40 x 51 mm grenades; and 76/62 mm shells, RDM also manufactures bombs, rocket, and missile subsystems.

  • Artillery ammunition (105mm and 155mm)
  • Mortar ammunition (60, 81, and 120mm)
  • Missile subsystems (propulsion units, warheads, etc.)
  • Minefield breaching systems
  • Ammunition for naval applications
  • 40mm infantry ammunition and pyrotechnics
  • Propellants and raw materials
  • Ammunition and metal components


RDM’s largest export markets are the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. RDM has been a supplier to Denel Dynamics for all rocket motor propellants (such as the A-Darter and Ingwe). RDM also provides Tawazun Dynamics (a joint venture between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Tawazun Holdings and Denel) Al Tariq bomb kit with insensitive explosive filling for the Mk 81 and Mk 82 bombs. RDM is also the sole supplier of propellants for Forges de Zeebrugge FZ 70 rockets.

In North Africa following four years of construction, RDM is in the final stages of commissioning a universal filling facility able to fill a variety of munitions including medium and large calibre ammunition and aircraft bombs. In the Middle East, RDM in conjunction with Saudi Military Industries Corporation successfully built an ammunitions factory. Denel’s 2015 annual financial report showed a strong increase in booked orders with a current value of more than R3.1 billion (major booked multi-year projects from Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and UAE).

Potential future business includes a €28 million contract for Plofadder mine clearing systems and a €65 million contract for ammunition from an international customer. RDM CEO, Norbet Schulze, told DefenceWeb that RDM expects to win a R500 million contract from the Middle East for 40 mm grenades by the fourth quarter of 2017.

RDM is looking to expand into a R4.5 billion company and judging by its financials, it continues full steam ahead. There is no doubt of the positive impact Rheinmetall Defence had in its involvement with Denel as prior to RDM’s formation, Denel’s munition divisions were making a loss of R159 million. RDM’s launch in 2008 impressively resulted in a R89 million profit in 2009.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


Mexico is modernizing its naval fleet with the acquisition of a single Damen SIGMA 10514 long-range patrol vessel. With a maximum speed of 28 knots and a helicopter deck for day or night operations (with refuelling capability), the SIGMA will open up a number of possibilities for the Mexican Navy (Secretaria de Marina – SEMAR) such as the capability to assist on humanitarian missions, search and rescue, deterrence, ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare), AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare), ASuW (Anti-Surface Warfare), and EW (Electronic Warfare), as well as participate in international exercises. Able to accommodate customer platform and combat system requirements, Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) SIGMA series of naval combatants is an appealing choice to navies.

The Mexican Navy is no stranger to the Dutch shipbuilder and is currently operating ten Damen vessels in its fleet, having signed two contracts in 2014. The first contract was signed for seven Damen Stan Patrol 4207’s built at ASTIMAR 1 in Tampico on the Gulf of Mexico. A contract for a further three Stan Patrols brought the number to ten. Damen provided a package including engineering, materials, technical assistance, and crew training. In January 2017, the ninth vessel named ARM Bonampak was launched at ASTIMAR 1. A contract was also signed for a Damen Fast Crew Supplier 5009 tailored to Mexican Navy requirements. The vessel will be constructed at ASTIMAR 6 in Guaymas on the Pacific coast of Mexico.

With regards to the SIGMA 10514, Damen continues to contribute to the development of Mexican shipbuilding capabilities by splitting construction between Mexico (where four modules will be constructed) and the Netherlands (two modules). The modules will be integrated in Mexico between June and September 2018. This form of module construction allows Damen the opportunity to build vessels in any location and offers local yards a transfer of technology opening up a cooperative channel, which can only be beneficial for the local industry. On 17 August 2017, a keel laying ceremony held at DSNS in Vlissingen, Netherlands was attended by Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz, Secretary of the Mexican Navy. The launch of the SIGMA 10514 is scheduled for October 2018.

The SIGMA 10514 contains a sensor suite with 3D surveillance and target indication radar and IFF, Radar/electro-optical fire control, hull mounted sonar, ESM, combat management system, and integrated internal and external communication system. Its weapons capability includes a medium calibre gun 76mm, close in weapon system, two small calibre guns, two SSM launchers, 12 cell SAM launcher, two triple torpedo launching systems, two decoy launchers, and ECM.

The Indonesian Ministry of Defence is also a fan of the SIGMA series and in February 2017, received a SIGMA 10514 Perusak Kawal Rudal (PKR) frigate named the Raden Eddy Martadinata after a founder of the Indonesian Navy. The vessel was assembled at the PT PAL shipyard in Surabaya, Indonesia where the ceremony took place. The vessel was also built in modular fashion at DSNS (two modules) and PT PAL Shipyard (four modules). A second frigate is under construction with delivery set for October 2017. The Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) came close to enhancing its navy with a SIGMA corvette deal however the deal fell through due to procurement inefficiency and funding constraints.




Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



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