MS&T’s Europe Editor Dim Jones talked with Hans Lindgren, Saab Training and Simulation’s Head of Business Development. 

Saab recently released their annual report for 2022, in which they noted that, for them: “Training & Simulation (T&S) is a growing business, with a strong market position in Europe and a market share of 25% in the US”. This is, indeed, a healthy state of affairs – 25% of the US market is certainly something to celebrate – and it was reinforced by the recent announcement of a new $64m contract extension with the US Marine Corps. 

However, the statement needs some qualification, in that Saab have historically concentrated their efforts principally in land forces simulation, and specifically live instrumented training and virtual simulation of specific weapons systems. 

Live instrumented collective land forces training uses laser-based Tactical Engagement Simulation Systems (TESS), whereby personnel, vehicles, weapons and buildings are fitted with sensors such that real-time information on movement, engagement and effectiveness can be relayed to Exercise Control (EXCON) stations and subsequently used for After-Action Review (AAR). There are two main optical code technologies in this field: the Multiple Instrumented Laser Engagement System (MILES), which was developed under the direction of the US Army’s PEO-STRI, later versions of which – Instrumentable, or I-MILES – have been produced by Cubic Corporation; and OSAG 2.0, which was developed by Saab in collaboration with BWB, an arm of the German Ministry of Defence. 

Interoperability between MILES and OSAG is a key requirement of NATO forces, and Saab has also developed OSAG interoperability upgrades for the US Army’s MILES-based Deployable Instrumentation System – Europe (DISE), and the Combat Vehicle Tactical Engagement Simulation System (CVTESS). DISE provides personal instrumentation, EXCON, battle tracking, data collection and rapid AAR capability for users, while the latest CVTESS kits allow instrumentation of M1 Abrams MBT, M2 Bradley IFV and for OPFOR vehicles. The latest USMC contract provides individual and vehicle instrumentation, logistics, maintenance and training exercise support. 

The nerve centre of the Saab training solution is the Combat Training Centre (CTC), which can be fixed or mobile, supported by tactical communications and scalable from individual to Brigade Combat Team +. Within this system, the Manpack 300 man-portable or vehicle-mounted training system allows full exercise capability for up to 300 personnel, to include CBRN, IED and mine-warfare simulation.

Additional land training products include the VR Ground Combat Indoor Trainer, which covers a range of small arms, support and anti-tank weapons, and OEM trainers for Carl Gustav, AT-4 and NLAW which replicate the ballistics of the real weapons to enhance fidelity. 

    The Saab annual report concludes: “Key focus going forward will be to combine live training with virtual training and the utilisation of AI technology for analytics. Another key focus is on interoperability and, with more than 40 customers worldwide, Saab has defined a standard for international forces to train together”.

    USMC FoFTS-Next

    The latest agreement with the USMC is a modification to an existing contract, announced in 2021, within the ‘Force-on-Force Training Systems – Next’ (FOFTS-Next) programme. The original was valued at approximately $54m, and the modification adds another $64m, with additional options which could take the total to $248m. Under the agreement, Saab will provide a deployable, live training capability to include equipment for individual Marine weapons and vehicles, as well as logistics, maintenance, and training exercise support. The FoFTS-Next programme will include US Marine Corps Training Instrumentation Systems (MCTIS) equipment for up to 10 battalion training sets, and the establishment of support operations at various Marine Corps installations.

    “The deployable and expeditionary MCTIS capability is an advanced training solution that will ensure Marines train and learn in the most realistic environment. The system will enhance Marines’ performance and survivability on the battlefield by developing and reinforcing proper tactics, techniques, and procedures. Saab is proud to be the US Marine Corps training partner for the next generation of Marine warfighters”, said Erik Smith, President and CEO of Saab in the US. “The expeditionary MCTIS capability is the premier land-based live training capability in the world and is fully interoperable with the land forces training of more than 30 NATO and partner nations.”

    Denmark Live Training Framework

    Saab and the Danish Ministry of Defence, Acquisition and Logistics Organisation (DALO) have entered into a Framework Agreement for live training solutions. The agreement has a duration of 15 years, with an option for a further 5 years, and the potential order value is approximately DKK 550m ($81.5m) over the period. The aim of the agreement is to enable the Danish Army to conduct live training exercises in which weapons effects will have a realistic, simulated impact on manoeuvres, thereby enhancing the Army’s training. 

    Hans Lindgren notes that: “The Saab Gamer system allows the customer to pick and choose the type of capability they would like to have. The Danish Armed Forces have for some time possessed elements of this system, which has provided gunnery training for their CV90 AFVs and Leopard MBTs, control of which has been exercised through Manpack sets. They have now made the decision to expand their capability to include a full CTC and, after a competed acquisition and comprehensive testing, have selected Saab to provide the necessary equipment. The key to this is interoperability, and Denmark will now have the ability to train with other nations in Europe.” 

    For some time, the Danish Army has owned one Manpack 300 and 5 Manpack 120 sets which, with BT46 simulator systems, have been distributed to regiments for gunnery training. The framework agreement will enable the Danish Armed Forces to place orders for all the additional equipment necessary to establish a Mobile Exercise Control (EXCON), and to add infantry, vehicle and additional weapons capabilities. It also covers onsite support, service, spare parts, repair and education. 

    Åsa Thegström, Head of Saab’s Training & Simulation Business Unit, said, “This agreement will ensure that the Danish Army are equipped with the market-leading, flexible training solutions and required training capability. Our training solutions will enable them to train fully deployable at the point-of-need, and as close to reality as possible, while remaining fully interoperable with other nations”.

    René Ulbjerg Toft, Deputy Technical Director, Command Support, DALO, added, “This solution will enhance our training capability and secure our long-term possibility to train our forces, within as well as across borders, with our allied nations for a long time going forward. It will also ensure immediate feedback and integration of the various entities on the battlefield, providing exercises with full realism and maximised training effect. It is very important for us that the full integration and interoperability with the current vehicle systems already in use relies on the supplier of the system enabling the full operational use domestically and abroad”. 

    Kenya New-Gen Live Training

    Saab have recently received an order from the Republic of Kenya’s Ministry of Defence which includes: a complete, new generation solution for live training including soldier systems (personnel detection devices); vehicle training systems; hand grenades; and training applications for a variety of weapons. The contract also includes the latest generation Exercise Control System (EXCON) and communication system, in addition to training courses for users and maintenance personnel. Thegström noted: This is the first contract that we have won with the Kenyan Defence Force, which opens up a new market for us in Africa. It’s a great honour and responsibility to have been selected to provide our training systems to the Kenyan Army. Our solutions will ensure a cost-effective way to train, with the most realistic training solution on the market”.