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PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED WITH BOWMAN SOFTWARE

14 Apr 05. On 27th August 2002 General Dynamics acquired privately held
Command System Incorporated (CSI) of Fort Wayne, Indiana; terms of the transaction were not disclosed. CSI provides command and control software and hardware to U.S. and international military markets; it has 34 employees. The purchase price was reported to be around $80m.

The company had put itself up for sale and BATTLESPACE understands that TRW and Raytheon also looked at a possible purchase. A source close to BATTLESPACE said that when his company looked at the purchase they ruled it out as there was, ‘Not much functionality in the system and it lacked a robust interface which meant that the system might not function efficiently in the required use for advanced C4I systems.’ CSI had sold some systems to Eastern Europe and the U.S. Marine Corps but for less demanding requirements than FBCB2 or BOWMAN

GD announced the purchase: “CSI became part of General Dynamics C4 Systems, which is based in Taunton, Massachusetts. Specializing in rapid deployment and development of command and control systems, CSI has sold more than 300,000 licenses in eight countries for its off-the-shelf command and control suites. It is a participant in the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems program, and its products are key elements of the Army’s Objective Force Warrior, the UK’s BOWMAN and Digitization programs. Prior to the acquisition, Command Systems was already working on the BOWMAN programme and as the system moves to the next stage of Digitization, the company’s workload should increase substantially. Experience in the US showed that once the Force XXI program moved from simulation to fielding, one of the most important aspects was the networking capabilities of the contractor.”

The acquisition of Command Systems was believed to have saved GD the reported $25m cost of a licence for the BOWMAN software. However the problems encountered, one of data messages not being recognised by the recipient computer are being overcome by GD, but other problems also remain.

To analyse the problem, we return to the original BOWMAN bidding process and the vital 7th Question which was worded, we believe, to require the companies to give pricing and details of BOWMAN and beyond, the CIP or Combat Information Platform. The TRW bid, led by Neil Siegel is believed to have priced the CIP at around $400m but was prepared to price it in at around $200m as part of the overall BOWMAN project, the system bid would be based around the FBCB2 software, Thales meanwhile declined to bid the CIP at that time as they did not have a suitable system whilst GD said that they would undertake the requirement but would not offer a price.

When GD won BOWMAN, some sources suggest that it was the $200m offered by TRW for CIP against the $0 by GD, which swung the deal GD’s way. Latterly the company was allowed by the MoD to run its own competition for the £300m+ CIP contract. TRW, Thales and CSI bid the requirement and CSI won. We also believe that the MoD asked DERA at Fort Halstead to run a competition and Fort Halstead, we understand, ranked TRW first followed by Thales and CSI trailing a weak third.

Thus GD won the £300m+ CIP requirement using CSI, a company it later bought. It is ironic to observe that the £300m ($425m @2002 £-$ of 1.419av) CIP contract actually, at first sight, cost the UK Government $225m MORE than the TRW bid.

In our feature this year, ‘BOWMAN – MEETING MILESTONES’, BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold asked GD’s Andrew Browne whether the system development was proceeding to plan and delivery, “Obviously the introduction of the CIP and the complexity of the tactical internet has required further development to enable seamless messaging. In addition security requirements demanded by the advanced Crypto system mean that our user cannot obtain the capability he requires for this seamless system, this is being addressed as we speak.”

Phil Merison of ITT Defence (UK) Ltd

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