Artillery fire constol system competition - full membership in ASCA required

Artillery fire constol system competition - full membership in ASCA required
29 / 10 / 2020, 10:00

The new artillery fire control system will be selected in a competition organized by the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ). The costs for the acquisition of the system total almost 752 million crowns (910 incl. VAT) and are spread over a period of five years. Suppliers from five European countries will be addressed. According to the Ministry of Defense, the final decision should be made in the second half of 2021. Among other conditions there is the „full ASCA association membership“, and it may prove to be an issue for the transparency of the competition.

The devil is hidden in detail. From the very beginning of the long and complex selection of the artillery fire control system, long before the fate of the DANA self-propelled howitzers and the acquisition of the French CAESAR artillery was decided, full compatibility with the ASCA (Artillery Systems Cooperation Activities) environment was established as one of the supporting and logical conditions for the new system. But there is a fundamental difference between the terms "full system compatibility" and "full association membership".

See also: Fire control system for the Czech Army: we need a comprehensive solution. Polish TOPAZ is the best one

When the Military Technical Institute conducted a feasibility study and as part of it a market research survey, it included manufacturers of artillery fire control systems from the EU or EEC, which are established in NATO armies and are also full members of ASCA. For this reason, Poland, which is still "only" an associate member, has not been addressed at that time.

The task of the international ASCA project is to ensure the interoperability of national fire control systems, and thus enable the joint deployment of artillery units across the North Atlantic Alliance. The goal is the ability to unify control and coordination systems so that any artillery is able to provide effective and continuous fire support to mechanized units. The ASCA environment offers a software solution and interface that removes language barriers and the risk of human error and misunderstandings in radio communication and fire command orders.

Ministry of Defense says that „full membership“ in the ASCA will be a condition for the selection of a new artillery fire control system, which would be conducted in the form of a competition by the Military Technical Institute.

According to the ministry, five states are to be addressed, the choice will be made between five fire control systems from the following countries: Germany (ADLER), Denmark (THOR), Norway (ODIN), France (ATLAS) and Poland (TOPAZ). The term "full membership in ASCA" is the detail that can exclude at least one of the addressed manufacturers in the final, regardless of the technical parameters of the system it manufactures. It is a formality: the association has its own formal rules and Poland and WB Electronics with the TOPAZ system are inevitably moving towards full membership.

See also: Czech Republic must gain the involvement of the Czech defense industry in the acquisition of new guns, MP says

If the Ministry of Defense cared about the technical parameters in this regard, why would it emphasize "full" membership? Under a strict interpretation of this condition, one of the addressed producers would be excluded in advance. We have witnessed such methods in the past. It is a small detail that could easily escape the minister's attention. A small nuance, which, however, can have major consequences. At first glance, the competition will look open and modern, and the system highly rated by experts will be assessed, but at one point a formal non-compliance will be pointed out, and the bidder will be unlucky. A well-thought-out transparent procedure will be hit by a torpedo. And one of the competitors, which was not bearable to ignore from the beggining, will be out of the game.

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