Artillery fire control system acquisition – MoD did not require full ASCA membership for ODIN two years ago

Artillery fire control system acquisition – MoD did not require full ASCA membership for ODIN two years ago
02 / 11 / 2020, 10:00

During the initial acquisition of input information for the selection of a new artillery fire control system for the Czech Armed Forces, the Armaments and Acquisitions Section of the Ministry of Defense contacted the manufacturers of three systems and evaluated their quality in June 2017. These were Raytheon (USA) with the AFATDS system, WB Electronics (Poland) represented in the Czech Republic by Retia with the TOPAZ system, and Kongsberg (Norway) represented by Omnipol with the ODIN system. For the current competition, the Ministry of Defense intends to demand "full membership in ASCA" - two years ago, in the case of the ODIN system, no one minded that Norway, like Poland today, was also "only" an associate member of this association.

For the US system, the section appreciated the full integration of the ASCA interface, but the version under consideration was "now probably obsolete" and expressed concerns about the cost of future upgrades. For the Polish system TOPAZ it claimed that the system "represents a mix of post-Soviet fire control and the integration of new NATO standards" and stated that it will be applying for ASCA membership. The Norwegian ODIN system was rated as the best, although Norway was not yet a full member of ASCA at the time - but it was expected to become one soon. in her answer to the chairwoman of the committee Jana Černochová, the then Minister of Defense Karel Šlechtová, described functionality within the ASCA environment as a fundamental requirement.

See also: Artillery fire constol system competition - full membership in ASCA required

ODIN was then evaluated as the most suitable even a year later in the mentioned feasibility study. Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom were addressed in its processing. Only three showed interest: Norway with ODIN, Germany with Adler III and Denmark with THOR. Now, according to the Ministry of Defense, five fire control system manufacturers from the following countries are to be adressed: Germany (ADLER), Denmark (THOR), Norway (ODIN), France (ATLAS) and Poland (TOPAZ).

Another attempt to involve France and the ATLAS system (Automatisation des Tirs et des Liaisons de l'Artillerie Sol-Sol) is logical in view of the ongoing negotiations on the acquisition of CAESAR guns, the fire of which is controlled by ATLAS within the French army.

And the Polish TOPAZ system from the Polish company WB Electronics returns to the game. We have already written about it as potentially the most suitable in terms of the ability to control fire also of the calibers used previously in the armament of the Warsaw Pact armies. This is no longer relevant for the Czech artillery with the announced elimination of DANA howitzers (although life is change, and in the case of these weapons, the MoD has demonstrated more than one turnover in recent years), however Poland has meanwhile become an associate member of ASCA, and most importantly: the TOPAZ system complies with all ASCA standards.

In fact, according to Piotr Wojciechowski, president of the board of WB Electronics, it suited them from the very beginning, and it had all the necessary protocols built in to enable communication with the allies. A full compatibility with ASCA was stated in the summer of 2018 by an article in Armádní noviny, three months after the Ministry of Defense claimed otherwise. The ASCA card, a technical and expert problem, already acted more like a smokescreen at the time, a false argument "explaining" to the public the preference for a possibly pre-selected ODIN system.

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

"The system certification condition itself requires full ASCA membership," the Ministry of Defense says now. Poland as an associate member is today in a similar position as Norway was in 2018, when full membership was not required. And it was enough for the experts at the Armaments and Acquisitions Section, in case of ODIN to be fully compatible with the ASCA environment. Full membership is a matter of formal rules of the association, not of the technical parameters of the system - these are unquestionable and their compatibility must be guaranteed - and they are. We will believe that Poland will not be approached only to create the impression of as many participants in the competition as possible, and that TOPAZ will ultimately not be excluded from the competition for failing to meet the banal formal condition of "full membership".

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