The tenders expected in the coming years as part of the digitization of land-based operations (D-LBO) and the approach of the German procurement authorities to bet on competition create opportunities for domestic and foreign companies. The US company Motorola recently won the tender for relocatable cellular networks, while the Danish company Systematic provides the battle management system (BMS) for the army.
Against this background, the Israeli technology group Rafael is also expanding its presence in Germany through its Burbach-based subsidiary Dynamit Nobel Defense (DND). The DND Digital division, which was founded at the end of last year, currently has 13 employees in Berlin and Leipzig, primarily programmers and software engineers, as Simon Brünjes, Head of the DND Digital department, explains. The goal is to increase to 24 employees by the end of the year and then to 40 employees in 2022.
DND Digital wants to compete for lucrative delivery contracts for the digitization of the Bundeswehr with both hardware and software. According to its own information, the company has both the recently started tender process for new soldier radios in view, as well as the tendering for D-LBO command radios expected in the coming months - also referred to as Combat Net Radio. DND wants to offer the software defined radios (SDR) of the BNET series developed in the parent company and adapted to the needs of the Bundeswehr.
On the software side, DND Digital offers, among other things, the fire control network Fire-Weaver, which implements the sensor and effect network and is already used by the Israeli armed forces. With both BNET radio technology and Fire-Weaver, Rafael is already represented in the study commissioned by the Federal Armed Forces Procurement Office “Creating a glass battlefield to support dynamic operations” - or ErzUntGlas for short.
According to department head Brünjes, the aim of DND Digital is to "Germanize" the products originally developed in Israel more and more in the event of a delivery order. The company's new digital division will, among other things, further develop software applications in Germany and adapt them to the requirements of the German market so that there are no so-called black boxes for the Bundeswehr. According to Brünjes, target-critical data will not run through Israeli algorithms, as this is incompatible with Germany's digital sovereignty. He therefore assumes that his company must disclose both the so-called forward and backward intellectual property rights.
In the case of radio technology, DND will also locate most of the added value in Germany in the event of an award, emphasizes Brünjes. According to him, only about 55 percent of the platform will be retained when a corresponding order is placed, while the rest of the components will come from Germany. After 2024, production should then be completely independent of Israel.
While the further development, for example with regard to encryption, which is national key technology in Germany, and the waveforms would initially take place in Berlin and Leipzig, production would initially be located in Burbach - due to the existing capacities. Basically, DND Digital strives for partnerships. For example, when the UHF soldier radio was tendered for the D-LBO, there is already a cooperation with two companies.
In general, DND expert Brünjes estimates that Israel has a development lead of “six to seven years” over Germany when it comes to IT products for defense. The Bundeswehr could possibly also benefit from this. As soon as the basic structure of DND Digital has been set up, Brünjes wants to demonstrate his own capabilities to the armed forces and other users. In late summer, small "use cases" will be demonstrated for the first time by a specialist audience, he announces. In the coming year, demonstrations in front of the Army Command are to follow.
Communication and education from a single sourceA clear picture of the situation is required on the digital battlefield. Quickly available, autonomous communication solutions form the backbone, because they are responsible for the transmission in a reliable and secure way. And that across all levels, from infantrymen and land vehicles to helicopters, drones or ships.