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1 May 02. The UK MoD has accepted the General Purpose-Trunk Access Port(GP-TAP) enhancement to the British Army’s Ptarmigan area communications system for embodiment into field units, following a highly successful technical trial during which no fault reports were raised against the enhanced system.

GP-TAP provides Ptarmigan users with a digital gateway to external communication
systems and is an essential step in meeting the U.K. MoD’s Digitisation Stages 1 and 2 requirements. It features rugged protocols to support voice and
data services across cable, terrestrial radio and satellite links.

The new GP-TAP capability can be operated in international mode for working with
NATO and other allied communication systems, or in national mode for links to UK
strategic and tactical systems such as DFTS, BOWMAN, CORMORANT and FALCON.

Comment: The ongoing upgrade of Ptarmigan continues apace. When the takeover of Siemens Plessey Systems took place BAE SYSTEMS inherited £50m of Ptarmigan upgrades including GP-TAP. The success of this delivery could signal the MoD’s intention to go for the cheaper £65m version of Falcon, recently bid by BAE’s team, EADS, Cogent and Marconi. BAE has always been the favourite to win Falcon with its huge Ptarmigan resource and this announcement may pave the way for the introduction of the cheaper option paving the way for much needed savings for the beleaguered UK defence budget.

Postscript: A little known fact is that the Ptarmigan technology is considered to be one of the main reasons for the UK’s lead in mobile telephony technology.

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