BOWMAN – DEVELOPING THE BACKBONE FOR LAND SYSTEMS NEC
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold has spent a considerable time this year with the GDUK Bowman team to enable our readers to understand the huge gains that have been made since the 2005 negotiations. The size and scope of the GDUK Battlelab at Oakdale and the number of employees tells the story. When the Editor went to the opening of the Plant in 2001 there were just over 100 people now this has grown to over 750, many of whom are engineers. GDUK has developed its Bowman expertise into an ability to manage complex MoD requirements. The lab has tripled in size to the extent that GDUK can model, with the customer, complex Bowman ‘what ifs’ for the individual Bowman fits such as Land Rovers, APCs and MBTs, or network a whole Brigade structure. The lab was humming with various experiments when the Editor visited in July.
“One of GDUK’s strengths is our ability to bring in technology and capability from our US parent or outside suppliers. This expertise comes from the huge Bowman requirement to manage a myriad of systems from hundreds of suppliers who make up the Bowman Supply Chain. In addition the huge Bowman ID&C contract which required the installation in over 13000 platforms has given GDUK a capability well beyond Bowman which we are building on in our bids for FRES in particular. In short GDUK, through our Bowman experience, has a unique ability to manage complex requirements from cradle to grave, the basis of the DIS Policy,” said Mike Vickery, Head of External Affairs GDUK.
The early days
In the recent brief from Andrew Browne, Vice President C4I(UK) and Mike Vickery, Browne underlined the task facing GDUK when BOWMAN was won.
“The delivery schedule of BOWMAN was extremely tight, 18 months, and we succeeded against all odds in this first delivery. However the contract was complicated by the separate, later, contract for the implementation of CIP.” Andrew Browne told the Editor.
CIP was required to provide the main C2 interfaces for users of the BOWMAN system. This provides mechanisms for messaging, reports and returns; Battle Management capabilities include support for planning functions. This was the area found most wanting at 2004 Acceptance. The lack of robustness in the software used to implement the system provided by Command Systems proved to be a problem. Meanwhile, the huge new raft of requirements and capabilities coming from DEC CCII in the form of the BISAs had to be integrated as well.
“What has never been appreciated is that the BISAs did not form part of GDUK’s original BOWMAN contract,” Browne continued. “These requirements came to us later from the DEC CCII at the MoD and we were required to work with the contractors to make them work and provide an interface. Thus, GDUK formed the Joint System Integration Body to resolve these issues and we provided our Systems Integration Laboratories in Wales to model the integration of these systems.”
The System Integration Laboratory (SIL) is a test and reference laboratory based at GDUK’s facility in South Wales. It brings together standard test equipment and BOWMAN hardware and software in a flexible configuration to enable a range of System Integration Tests to be undertaken on BISAs prior to their delivery into the field.
“At the time BOWMAN was conceived such systems as Watchkeeper and their bandwidth requirements were not in the contracted requirement. Thus, in consultation with the MoD, it was agreed that we would use our own money to increase the capability and the robustness of the software but that the MoD would fund other changes to enable the system to cope with these new requirements.”
Bowman, ComBAT, Infrastructure and Platform BISA (BCIP) 4, 5 & 6
In addition to the provision of laboratories, the Joint Systems Integration Body (JSIB) was established to integrate BCIP and the BISAs.
“GDUK and the UK Ministry of Defence