22 Aug 23. After several years of delays, inaction, blame games, technology issues and EVO cost escalation, the UK MoD announced the much expected and awaited selection of the BAE Systems consortium for the Trinity phase of LeTacCIS.
LE TacCIS vision
The LE TacCIS programme consists of multiple sub-programmes and projects with the aim to deliver the next generation of tactical military communications in the land environment, providing the means to make informed and timely decisions enabled by agile Communication Information Systems (CIS). The LE TacCIS Dossier consists of Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure and Platform (BCIP) 5.6, the MORPHEUS sub-programme, the TRINITY sub-programme, Joint Common Remote Viewing Terminal (JCRVT), Dismounted Soldier Awareness (DSA), Falcon, NIOBE and multiple delivery and support Projects. The LE TacCIS programme is delivered by a partnership of Army Headquarters Directorate Information (AHQ D Information), Defence Digital Battlefield and Tactical Communications and Information Systems (BATCIS) working as one team, in collaboration with key industry partners.
TRINITY will provide a deployable Wide Area Network (WAN) with significantly increased bandwidth and information mobility compared to current systems. It will be defence as a platform compliant assuring the integrity and availability of the data. Finally, it will be part of the Protected Core Network.
Falcon is a hardened, deployable secure network communication capability. It is fielded with the army and the RAF and primarily supports large deployed headquarters through to deployed air bases. Falcon Sustain is a new support contract to maintain this capability until the capability is replaced by TRINITY and NSoIT(D).
The user requires platforms, to host a wide variety of deployable CIS capabilities including interchange. It will deliver these services in a coherent, secure and consumable manner at the point and time of need of the Land Domain User (Warfighter and Systems).
It will provide a multi-platform common CIS fit using in-service CIS, be mission configurable, provide increased connectivity, range and bandwidth from sub-unit to Corps HQs.
Armed Forces to benefit from £89m battlefield network. Modern battles are fought across land, sea, air, space, cyber and electronic warfare. Rapidly evolving technologies mean each domain is highly contested so it is vital that militaries maintain control of their communications in these challenging environments.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced today the award to BAE Systems of an £89m contract to enhance front-line connectivity for military personnel, linking small reconnaissance drones, combat vehicles, fighter jets, aircraft carriers and military commands. The five-year contract has been awarded to BAE Systems to design and manufacture a deployable tactical Wide Area Network (WAN) known as ‘TRINITY’ – delivering a highly secure and state-of-the-art battlefield internet capability to UK forces. This contract named Design and Systems Integration Delivery (DSID) will directly support the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy by backing 60 UK jobs based in Dorset. It will also see further investment into UK skills from BAE Systems, their partners and across the supporting supply chain.
Trinity’s resilience is based on its composition. It is made up of a series of nodes, each able to add, access and move data in a secure network. If a number of nodes are damaged in warfare, the rest automatically re-route to maintain optimum network speed and flow of information, making it highly effective.
Replacing the existing Falcon network, due to be retired in 2026, ‘TRINITY’ will ensure UK Armed Forces on land can interact faster with allies, whether operating as a single nation or as part of an international coalition, across different battlefield domains.
The new five-year contract will see BAE Systems lead a consortium of trusted partners, including Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), PA Consulting and L3 Harris, to design and manufacture a deployable tactical Wide Area Network (WAN) known as ‘Trinity’. This will deliver a highly-secure and state-of-the-art battlefield internet capability to UK forces which will sustain battlefield awareness and intelligence sharing through a myriad of adversarial attacks.
David Armstrong, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, said: “In an increasingly complex and fast-paced threat landscape, Trinity will empower the UK Armed Forces with a better view of what is happening, enabling them to make swift, informed decisions when and where it matters most. By providing this advantage to front-line decision makers, Trinity reinforces our commitment to equipping the British military with the right tools to stay ahead in an ever-evolving battlespace.”
The contract will directly support 60 jobs based in Dorset and will see further investment in UK skills at BAE Systems, its partners and across the supporting supply chain.
BAE Systems will combine its defence communications expertise to develop, deliver and deploy world-leading network capabilities using the full spectrum of communications infrastructure to avoid being solely reliant on satellites or fixed infrastructure which are often targeted by adversaries. Trinity’s resilience is based on its composition. It is made up of a series of nodes, each able to add, access and move data in a secure network. If a number of nodes are damaged in warfare, the rest automatically re-route to maintain optimum network speed and flow of information, making it highly effective.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey MP, said: “In this continually evolving, multi-domain environment it is vital that our personnel have access to world-leading communications capabilities while on operations. We remain committed to working closely with the best of British industry as they support our endeavour to better connect with our allies and their assets in theatre.”
Dismounted Sitauational Awareness Programme (DSA)
With Trinity now in place the next phase will be the Dismounted Sitauational Awareness Programme (DSA). DSA is a successor to the long-running Future Integrated Soldier Technology programme. The Special Forces and Royal Marines are already developing their own self-forming networks using Persistent Systems radios supplied by UK agents Steatite with TrellisWare software. These systems have yet to be integrated into Bowman.
Last but not least will be the much delayed Morpheus Programme.
Morpheus is a £3.2 billion defence programme delivering the next generation of Tactical Communication and Information Systems (TacCIS) to forces operating in a Land Environment, inclusive of the Royal Navy in the littoral environment and elements of the Royal Air Force. The programme is delivered by the Battlefield Tactical Communications and Information Systems (BATCIS) Delivery Team in conjunction with Army HQ and Joint Forces Command. Morpheus will give access to fully integrated operational information technology that simplifies the user experience, allowing units to focus on the mission.
Morpheus EvO will now be based on Bowman version 5.6, and is planned to evolve as an open, modular system. It will connect deployed forces to their commanders, give improved access to operational IT systems and simplify the user experience. An open systems approach will allow new technologies such as radios and apps to be rapidly integrated to tackle emerging threats and enhance interoperability with allies.
Reports in the FT last week continued the blame game on the MoD and GDUK for Morpheus delays and the delay of introduction until 2030. However what has not been considered in the press are the studies of tactical communications on the Ukraine battlefield which has required a rapid rethink of the security of the crypto and network of the existing Bowman radios and the urgent need for an EW layer onto LE TacCIS. This rethink as to network security and overall battlefield comms efficiency has led to the belied that LETacCIS will not be a ‘big bang approach but an incremental procurement. To that end the MoD has already stated procuring Falcon radios from L3Harris which will be installed in the new Viking vehicles for the Royal Marines.
In late 2022 the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) confirmed a large order for L3Harris Tactical radios for the Multi-Mode Radio (MMR) programme.
The AN/PRC-163 Multi-channel Handheld and AN/PRC-167 Multi-channel Manpack radios will upgrade the UK Armed Forces’ land-based radio capabilities in a modernization effort which is the culmination of a number of years work in a collaborative project between the MOD and industry.
“As lead MOD user of resilient communications, the British Army has worked with Defence Digital to procure new MMR radios to add secure and assured networks for deployed forces,” said Keith Norton, Vice President and Managing Director, L3Harris Communications Systems UK. “The Multi-Mode Radio program is a big step forward for UK MOD by enabling land forces to easily communicate and interoperate with NATO and U.S. allies by providing a solution that can be easily tailored for each deployment. The investment in these tried-and-tested radios will make for speedier deployments, faster decision-making, and improved soldier safety.”
The introduction of modern and easy-to-use two-channel L3Harris MMR radios into MOD tactical networks provides increased interoperability with allies, greater flexibility in communication options and enhanced resilience against adversarial electronic attacks for deployed allied forces. The Falcon® IV AN/PRC-163 and AN/PRC-167 radios, which are available for operations today, deliver unrivalled support of the MOD’s full mission profile, offering multiple channels and access to a vast library of resilient waveforms.
The MMR radios will support the future expeditionary nature of UK Forces with rapid, early deployment of multiple small forces to quell conflicts before they escalate. The highly portable and versatile nature of the AN/PRC-163 and AN/PRC-167 enable forces to deploy into uncertain situations with the ability to tailor their communications to meet the threat and needs as they change, leading to speedier deployments, faster decision-making and improved soldier safety.
Other radios include the AN/PRC-163 Multi-channel Handheld Radio. Dual-channel crossbanding capabilities in a SWaP-optimized handheld. TSM‑X MANET. Supports truly seamless and simultaneous networking for over 200 users.
Other systems under consideration for this incremental approach are the new DSA infantry radio, upgraded and new Leonardo DRS Tactical terminals and displays and the Spectra Slingshot satcom comms system already in use with several armies and being trialled by the British Army.
Hence the doom predictions are overdone!