South Africa


With drones gaining more popularity, anti-drone technologies may become a necessary countermeasure in years to come to neutralise drone threats in the defence, commercial, and homeland security sectors by detecting and intercepting drones. Anti-drone technology is also known as counter-UAS, C-UAS, or counter-UAC technology. As in any market segment, anti-drone manufacturers consist of the larger corporates like Thales, Lockheed Martin, and SAAB, however start-ups are becoming fierce competitors with their own in-house innovations, low-cost manufacturing capabilities, and the ability to build anti-drone systems to customer requirements.

Anti-drone technologies can be ground-based (fixed or mobile on buildings or vehicles), hand-held (operated by hand), and UAV-based (mounted on drones). They can have a detection and tracking capability with radar, radio frequency (RF), electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR), acoustic, or combined sensors, and/or an interception capability with RF jamming, GNSS jamming, spoofing (takes control of the drone by accessing the drone’s communication link), laser, nets, and projectiles. Further, anti-drone technologies can initiate controlled landings or instruct the drone to return to the operator. But technologies are not the only option. A company from the Netherlands called Guard From Above, trains birds of prey to intercept drones. The most commonly used drone detection methods are radar, RF detection, EO, and IR – with jammers being the most popular for interception.

Apart from the obvious military and law enforcement applications, the anti-drone market varies greatly to include government installations (such as prisons), commercial venues, critical infrastructure, and airports. Drones are readily available and cheap, a hassle-free option for non-state actors to utilize them for a number of operations. Non-state actors like ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthi rebels, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and Colombian and Mexican drug cartels have all used drones. Drones can be armed with explosive payloads or used as a delivery system for biological or chemical weapons, where the controlled landing of a drone is absolutely critical. However, drones do not necessarily need to be weaponised to cause disruption and can be used as surveillance, recording devices, and delivery vehicles.

The anti-drone market will inevitably grow with a variety of systems available to counter drones’ many applications. The future will see an increase in partnerships between companies wanting to collaborate on anti-drone technologies such as Belgian software company Unifly who recently announced that they have joined forces with Integra Aviation Academy to set up an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system, which alerts pilots on emerging drone threats. To date, the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in the U.S. has identified over 230 anti-drone products manufactured by 155 manufacturers in 33 countries.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA


As connectivity grows on the African continent, so will the threat of cyber-attacks. The South African Department of Defence in particular is planning through the defence intelligence programme (and with an allocation of R72 million over the medium term) to institutionalize a cyber security policy, implement its cyber warfare strategy, and establish a cyber command centre.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed cyber security solutions to defend South Africa’s digital borders from cyber-attacks by promoting compliance with South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and institutionalizing its cyber security policy. According to Johnny Botha, Cyber Warfare Project Manager at the CSIR and contributor to a study titled Pro-Active Data Breach Detection: Examining Accuracy and Applicability On Personal Information Detected, the amount of personal information being leaked online remains substantial. An additional paper to which Mr Botha has contributed – High-Level Comparison Between the South African Protection of Personal Information Act and International Data Protection Laws, highlights that POPIA is on par with international privacy legislation.

The CSIR’s Cyber Defence Research Group continues to support the DoD’s Directorate Information Warfare (DIW) with cyber-related research, development, and solutions. The DIW is mandated with securing South Africa’s military cyberspace. When it comes to defending a country’s cyber battlespace, it is important to identify cyber vulnerabilities, adversaries’ cyber weaknesses, and develop offensive and defensive strategies and capabilities as well as cyber security awareness initiatives, which must extend to industry, governmental departments, and security structures. South African defence entities are also focusing their attention on cyber defence. In September 2016, Denel announced the Denel Tactical Cyber Command Centre, which will work closely with local and international cyber domain players.

South Africa’s offensive cyber warfare strategy began during FY 2016/17, when the DoD developed a cyber warfare strategy aligned with the country’s stance and capabilities. The cyber warfare strategy will be submitted for consideration to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster ministers during FY 2017/18. Cyber security measures must also have a defensive approach to protect and shield sensitive and classified information from unauthorized access, modification, destruction, or disclosure. The DOD’s Cyber Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) will be established to prevent or recover from a cyber warfare incident through the establishment of the cyber command centre.

Bridging the digital divide is a double-edged sword as connectivity is a conduit for cyber adversaries to access any system. A sound cyber security policy and cyber warfare strategy counteract these threats, which can severely affect and wreak havoc on a country’s security and economy by penetrating infrastructure, financial, and other key institutions essential to a country’s function. Information-based processes and systems as well as communication networks must be protected with capabilities that have the potential to neutralize, destroy, or exploit cyber-attacks.


Written by Sylvia Caravotas (Satovarac Consulting) for OIDA



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



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