The Bundeswehr has set ambitious goals and is working full speed towards them
A conversation with Sven Trusch, Managing Director of Systematic GmbH
The Systematic name represents a leading global provider of C4ISR systems and solutions for military intelligence and electronic warfare. The land, sea, and air domains benefit from a constantly evolving software suite that prepares the armed forces for the future and makes them more digital overall. This is necessary, because the Bundeswehr will enable its land forces on their way to Army 4.0 to link every device and every vehicle with each other. The result is an even better common operational picture and situational awareness for everyone. This project is targeted for completion by the year 2032. The role of data-centric C4ISR systems is considered to be challenging here, because the software is initially integrated into existing radio equipment. Systematic GmbH Managing Director Sven Trusch is optimistic that the land forces will be fit for more dominance on the battlefield of the future.
Q: Mr. Trusch, what is the status of the roll-out of SitaWare products in the Bundeswehr? How widespread is the use so far of SitaWare, and which of your solutions are used in the Bundeswehr?
Sven Trusch: The introduction of the SitaWare product family is currently making progress. The Bundeswehr has set itself ambitious goals and is working towards them with all its might. This is really remarkable, and in many ways exemplary compared to other European nations. If you look back about ten years, we began the journey in 2011 with the German participation in the Afghan Mission Network [AMN], which was later migrated to the HaFIS IT platform. Based on this specific application, the SitaWare products were introduced more and more widely. Today, SitaWare Headquarters, as an interoperable C4ISR system, and SitaWare Frontline, as a battle management system for the tactical level, are available to a large number of users as Mission Enabling Service Bundeswehr [MESBw]. There is no end in sight for a long time and so new use cases and user groups are constantly being added.
Q: As a user, how will I experience the introduction of SitaWare - for example at brigade level?
Sven Trusch: The introduction of a new C4ISR system is a demanding task that requires the interaction of many players. Especially with a service-oriented architecture, which the Bundeswehr is pursuing with the MESBw. This is still relatively easy at the command posts, since the technology used supports such an approach well. In the combat vehicles it becomes more demanding. A suitable hardware platform first has to be installed in many vehicles. In addition to the main weapon systems, we are also talking about a large number of support vehicles, which in the past mostly only had radios. The coordination of the conversion was and is a mammoth task for the Bundeswehr, which in my opinion has been mastered with flying colours so far. In the further implementation, we have made a major contribution, especially in training. In the past two years, numerous training courses have been carried out for different roles. I currently see the greatest challenge in adapting the processes. An example is information management, which changes fundamentally with the introduction of modern C4ISR systems in order to achieve noticeable added value. After all, digitalization should not be an end in itself. But here, too, we stand by the Bundeswehr in an advisory capacity and develop new concepts together.
Q: The SitaWare products are constantly being further developed, currently on SitaWare Frontline and Edge 3.2. Does every user automatically receive the updates, or are they only available for new customers or as part of a larger regeneration?
Sven Trusch: The great advantage of using standard software lies in the continuous development of the products. We currently have more than 40 user nations of our SitaWare product family, who mutually benefit from new functionalities or even entire capabilities. For us, the Bundeswehr is one of the key user nations and thus also makes a significant contribution to the future development of the products. Even though we regularly provide the armed forces with new versions of the products, these cannot always be implemented immediately. As part of IT service management, dependencies on other components and, of course, on operational requirements, are always checked before they are put into production. We support this, among other things, with a beta test program in which our user nations are given the opportunity to test the system before an official release. In summary, however, one can say that the Bundeswehr is currently working with the latest versions and will not be behind in the future either.
Q: You are now offering the SitaWare Aspire eTraining solution. What is behind it and is it automatically available to all current users?
Sven Trusch: As already mentioned, training is one of the key factors for the successful implementation of a C4ISR system. Nowadays, the training of users is still personnel-, time- and therefore cost-intensive. We thought about how we can improve that. With e-learning, known in the Bundeswehr as computer-aided training [CUA], there have been positive experiences here for many years. Corresponding e-learning lessons for our products have also existed in the Bundeswehr since 2019. In comparison, SitaWare Aspire is a significant step forward. It merges eLearning with the real products and the user interacts with both the learning platform and the application at the same time. This increases the efficiency of the training many times over and users can complete the training at their own pace and at any location. Despite the great potential, it will not be able to completely replace face-to-face training but will represent a significant addition in many areas.
Q: What innovations and further developments can you tell us about today? What can your customers expect in the short and medium term?
Sven Trusch: Due to the continuous development, new or improved functionalities are constantly being added to the products and we ensure that the latest standards, e.g. in the area of interoperability. Looking back, for example, we were able to add a maritime add-on to SitaWare Headquarters, which provides specific functionalities for the maritime dimension. This increases the possibility of creating a continuous information network considerably. Right now, we are looking at megatrends in IT, but also at requirements for the IT platforms of our user nations. So it is no surprise that topics such as artificial intelligence, big data, and cloud computing are very high on our agenda. These technologies enable the addition of data-centric systems to our current map-centric C4ISR systems. Specific user groups, such as military intelligence, will particularly benefit from these developments. So it remains exciting and we will continue to be able to supply the armed forces with the most modern C4ISR systems in the future.