23 Nov 05. General Dynamics UK and the British government have agreed to incrementally update the Bowman tactical communications system now in service with the military. The broad terms of the deal were agreed last month; a decision on whether to give the scheme the go-ahead is expected from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Investment Approvals Board as early as December, a government source said. In late July, General Dynamics UK (GDUK) executives said the firm was in talks with the Defence Procurement Agency about a plan to further develop and integrate new software for Bowman. The Investment Approvals Board decision likely will coincide with a key part of the communications system — the Bowman Combat Infrastructure and Platform Battlefield Information Systems (BCIP) — being declared in service. That is 12 months later than planned when the contract for the BCIP was awarded to GDUK in late 2002. The MoD declined to discuss the revised entry-into-service date or the contract to further develop Bowman. GDUK officials also declined to comment on the negotiations, except to say they were confident of a successful outcome. The contract’s size is not known. In July, GDUK Managing Director Sandy Wilson said it was in the “tens of millions of pounds.” Small that sum may be, but this is a case where size isn’t everything. What is important is the British appear to have recognized that digital systems like Bowman will need continuous incremental software development over the 20 or more years of the program’s life to keep it current.
That’s potentially good news for GDUK. If the deal is approved, it could be the first of many similar Bowman update programs.
Neither industry nor the MoD will discuss just what technical ground will be covered by this first incremental contract. GDUK indicated in July it would involve trading out some old Bowman requirements that have fallen by the wayside as priorities changed. The government source, though, said the contract also likely would cover an assessment phase, with demonstration of new requirements expected to be needed by the British as digital technology evolves. (Source: Defense News)
BATTLESPACE Comment: BATTLESPACE understands that this contract worth approximately £80m was to develop certain parts of the Bowman system that required enhancements, particularly the GD Command Systems software package for the BCIP. A further £200m may be required for the next six years for software and system enhancements, particularly to develop an open-architecture system for Bowman. The technical, software and bandwidth demands put on the exiting Bowman system to support the required and future BISAs required enhancements to the contracted software in particular. A source told BATTLESPACE at AUSA that Command Systems was a ‘dirty word’ at GD and that considerable investment had been made by the company to enhance the system. GD bought the company for $85m in 2002, partly to avoid the payment of $25m for the Bowman licence. TRW, Raytheon and Northrop all considered purchasing the company, but its product range was seen as not robust enough for requirements such as Bowman, particularly in the data area.
21 Nov 05. The optronics business of Thales UK in Taunton has recently been selected to provide its CELT2 product for two development programmes. In the first programme, BAE Systems Bofors AB has selected CELT2 for use on its Lemur RWS (Remote Weapon Sight) as used onboard the FH77B Howitzer. This upgrade, funded by the Swedish army, will also be offered for other FH77B upgrade programmes. In the second programme CELT2, has been selected for integration onto a land based fire control system by a customer in the Middle East. The initial requirement is for eight units, but has the potential to substantially increase in the future. CELT2 is a compact high performance eye-safe-laser rangefinder designed specifically for external mounting on new or existing platforms; where its rugged desi