BOWMAN – SPIRAL DEVELOPMENT CONTINUES
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE talks to Dave Jarrett, Business Development Director, C4I Systems and Paul Clement, Programme Director, Bowman of General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd.
On July 2nd 2009, two contracts, together worth £231 million, were awarded to General Dynamics UK to upgrade the UK Armed Forces’ Bowman military communications system.
The contracts will provide:
* Improved performance and sustainability through proactive obsolescence
* Increased quantities of equipment to meet user needs;
* Optimisation of Bowman system performance through improvements to planning and system management applications;
* Improved interoperability with other UK and Allied systems;
* Improved synergies with the Bowman CIP support solution.
The first contract, known as Capability Release (CR) 1.5, is worth £119 million and will update and refresh the system’s capabilities over its lifetime to reflect advances in technology.
The second contract, value £112 million, will provide longer term technical support for the Bowman programme and will include repair, field services and the provision of spares.
Earlier this year, in February, GDUK, in partnership with Rockwell Collins and QinetiQ, won a competition for a £3 million contract from the UK MoD to develop the Joint Data Network Combat Identification Server Technical Demonstrator.
The Combat Identification Server (CIDS) requirement will contribute to improving tactical situational awareness (SA) for UK forces involved in the delivery and control of indirect and direct fires to land operations; it will also assist in improving SA for forces working together on other joint fires operations. The CIDS will provide military commanders and pilots with rapid and timely access to accurate near real-time force tracking and location information, improving mission effectiveness through increased accuracy and tempo of operations and assisting in reducing incidences of fratricide.
The CIDS will correlate blue-force tracking information from 15 different network sources including Link-16, Bowman and UK asset tracking systems as well as coalition network sources, and then, on receipt of requests, make it available to joint fires assets and Close Air Support (CAS)/Close Combat Air (CCA) aircraft. CIDS will use Link-16, Variable Message Format (VMF) and AFAPD networks, and eventually other tactical networks to redistribute blue-force tracking information. The Technical Demonstrator Programme’s (TDP) capabilities will be tested against realistic CAS and Forward Air Controller (FAC) engagement scenarios.
The programme will be managed by the Tactical Data Links (TDL) Integrated Product Team and will feed in to the Joint Data Network (JDN) Backbone programme, which focuses on linking tactical networks to support joint and coalition war fighting.
“What does the award of these contracts mean to the Bowman systems and its usage by the British Armed forces?” The Editor asked Paul Clement.
“These contracts contain a number of key upgrades to the Bowman system, the key part is the fielding of BCIP5, which now enables the data segment of Bowman and thus the BISA’s to become operable.”
“Does this mean that Bowman, in its current BCIP 4 form, is not performing as per the original contract?”
“No. You have followed the Project from inception and understand the initial challenge of fielding such a large capability uplift: this is a huge enterprise and has never been done before. The Army has had secure voice in theatre, the most important part of the system, for some time and this was delivered to the original in-service date. Operational experience in both theatres demonstrates that BCIP 4F, the current in-service version, is delivering a vital capability that has improved the speed and quality of tactical communications, thus enhancing the tempo of operations. The fielding of BCIP 5 gives a step change in the pro