The contract for CIP was awarded to General Dynamics UK in December 2002, for the supply of ComBAT software to approximately 13,000 computers and the fitting of PBISA to over 1,000 vehicles.
Training on the Bowman system for the initial battalion (1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment), began in July 2003, with 12 Mechanised Brigade as the first Brigade to be converted. The first Brigade operational field trial, which was conducted using two mechanised battle groups and a brigade headquarters (245 vehicles and more than 2,000 personnel), took place in March 2004. Bowman was declared in-service on 26 March 2004.
In early 2005, 12 Mechanised Brigade deployed with Bowman to Iraq on Operation TELIC. Particular use was made of the secure voice capability that the system offers and feedback suggested that the quality of reception attained was exceptional. In late 2005, a further deployment to TELIC brought the armoured vehicle elements, including P-BISA, of the system into operational usage.
In October 2005, the UK Ministry of Defence and General Dynamics UK, reached an agreement that BCIP should be ‘recast’. Programme funding was increased by £121 million and the timescale for delivering capability was extended by two years to mid-2007. This capability, based on the BCIP 5 software drop, was that which the early version of CIP (BCIP 4.F) had been unable to give users in 2005.
BCIP 5 was formally accepted by the Ministry of Defence in January 2008, with approval was given for fielding. The first operational platforms to receive BCIP 5.2.1 were the frigates HMS Chatham and Monmouth – in refit in early 2008, followed by specialist Army signals units, 3 Commando Brigade RM and 7 Armoured Brigade. By late 2009 more than 65 per cent of RN Surface Flotilla had received BCIP 5.2.1 and HQ Fleet declared IOC achieved for Maritime and Littoral Manoeuvre.
BCIP 5.4.2 fielding commenced in January 2010 to 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines and 7 Armoured Brigade, following a fielding decision in 2009. The first operational deployment of BCIP 5.4 was in April 2011. Fielding of BCIP 5.4 was completed in December 2011, affecting around 100,000 products in more than 14,000 platforms.
In July 2011, General Dynamics UK was awarded a £110 million BCIP sustainment programme contract, which includes planned migration from BCIP 5.4 to 5.5 by 2013 – BCIP 5.5 was delivered in May 2013. Later in September 2011, the initial shared situational awareness UOR was delivered to Afghanistan with further releases delivered in 2012 and 2013 enhancing the delivered capability.
Fielding of BCIP 5.5 commenced in May 2013, and by October 2013 the first two brigades (16 Air Asslt and 3 Cdo Bde RM) had been equipped together with 12 RN and RFA platforms – fielding was then completed in March 2015.
BCIP 5.6 is currently in development with the D&M programme due to complete Q2 2018 with fielding expected to commence from Q3 2018.
Bowman Update: Quotes and Video
“Bowman, as a secure voice communications system, supports commanders and soldiers in the conduct of operations. Situational Awareness (SA) and PUDT have proved their worth in Basra City.”
From the 7 Armd Bde near the end of their tour in Iraq in Apr 06.
“…digitally secure BG and Coy nets with full Situational Awareness (SA) is a world apart from the comms infrastructure of the early TELICs. SA has been a real success with nearly all deployable call signs being tracked for the majority of the tour.”
4 SCOTS Battlegroup
“Bowman is giving us a real edge on operations. The situational awareness Bowman delivers means that decisions are better informed; that we are more agile and more effective; and that soldiers are better able to their job in often difficult circumstances. Bowman is proving its worth on operations.”
Assistant Chief of Staff, Capability Development
“All in all, 3 PARA BG is impressed and happy with Bowman.”
Regimental Signals Officer (RSO) 3 PARA Battlegroup