General Dynamics UK is the Prime Contractor and Systems Integrator for Bowman, the tactical C4I system for the British armed forces. Bowman delivers a step change in capability over the Clansman family of radios through its security, data capability, reliability and resilience against Electronic Warfare (EW) attack.
Bowman is a tactical communications system integrating digital voice and data technology to provide secure radio, telephone, intercom and tactical internet services in a modular and fully integrated system.
The programme includes the conversion of over 18,000 platforms, including vehicles, helicopters, naval vessels, landing craft and fixed HQ buildings.
Bowman in Service
12 Mechanised Brigade was the first brigade to be converted to Bowman and successfully completed a six month operational tour in Iraq – OP TELIC 6 – in November 2005. 7 Armoured Brigade followed on OP TELIC 7, taking its Bowman-equipped Warriors and Challenger 2 tanks. Bowman has received favourable reports from the User on operations. Conversion of the 3 Commando Brigade and its supporting Amphibious Task Group is complete and Littoral ISD has been declared.
Command & Control and Battle Management
Bowman provides an Automatic Position Location, Navigation and Reporting system which gives Situational Awareness to units throughout the digitised structure. The friendly forces picture can be configured to update unit and vehicle positions automatically.
The tactical picture is shown on map displays on a variety of purpose-built data terminals – handheld, portable, vehicle or desk mounted. Key armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) are fitted with specialised equipments tailored to each vehicle type to facilitate use of the APLNR capability in the specific environment of an AFV.
The Common Battlefield Applications Toolset (ComBAT) provides the main C2 interfaces for users of the Bowman system. This provides mechanisms for messaging, reports and returns. Battle Management capabilities include support for planning functions.
Secure Voice & Data
High levels of security are provided, based on the UK Pritchel crypto system together with its appliqué crypto and NATO Standard Operating Modes to allow interoperability with NATO allies.
The Bowman Key Variable Management System (BKVMS) provides generation and distribution of cryptographic key material.
The IP-based tactical Internet provides connectivity through the local area system (LAS), the High Capacity Data Radio (HCDR) and Combat Net Radio (CNR) nets. Resilience is provided by the self-healing ability of IP.
Wide Area System Communications
A new design of Gateway equipment provides voice and data interfaces to existing wide area networking assets such as ptarmigan, SATCOM systems and the public and military telephone networks.
Work is in hand to ensure that Bowman will interface with future wide area systems such as Falcon.
Apache – Bowman Connectivity (ABC)
ABC is an addition to the Bowman programme which provides secure voice and data communications between the British Army’s attack helicopter and its related land-based operational units.
General Dynamics UK’s solution delivers this additional capability through an innovative mechanism, saving the MOD hundreds of millions of pounds, by adapting some of the Bowman Network Access Units to provide an integrated communications network with previously under-utilised facilities within the airborne weapons platform.
System Integration Laboratory (SIL)
The SIL is a test and reference laboratory based at General Dynamics UK’s facility in South Wales.
It brings together standard test equipment and Bowman hardware and software in a flexible configuration to enable a range of System Integration Tests to be undertaken on BISAs prior to their delivery into he field.
Bowman in Iraq
Bowman has now been on operations in Iraq since April 2005. The 12th Mechanised Brigade were the first to use Bowman operationally, after being converted to Bowman during 2004. General Dynamics UK sent a team to Iraq to support the Brigade on operations. Reports about Bowman from officers and soldiers on operations in the Gulf have been very positive.
“Operational tempo is improved by secure, guaranteed communications, and we had that at Brigade level down to section level”, said Brigadier John Lorimer, the Commander 12 Brigade. Bowman’s situational awareness capability came in for praise, too. The Brigade’s Chief of Staff, Major Rupert Jones, believes that “the ability to see the location of units in contact immediately speeds things up and saves lives.”
Signallers in the Brigade Signals squadron were pleased with the reliability of Bowman, which worked well in the heat. Lt Col Ben Edwards, CO The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, speaking in BATUS during pre-deployment training, said that the clarity and distance of communication with Bowman had been “a revelation – much much better than anything we’ve had before”.
During OP TELIC 7 last year, Brigadier Marriott, Commander 7th Armoured Brigade gave his opinion that “The potential of Bowman is immense, the reality very good. We’ve only used a very small part of the system, particularly in Iraq, but you can feel, see and really sense where it’s going to take us and it’s great.”
Dutch Marines Go Digital
General Dynamics UK is supply the Royal Netherlands Navy with the New Integrated Marines Communications and Information System – NIMCIS. NIMCIS is a two-year programme to equip the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC) with the BOWMAN C4I system, which is being rolled out to the UK Armed Forces by General Dynamics UK.
NIMCIS will provide the RNLMC with a secure voice and data communications infrastructure capable of supporting a range of network-enabled command, control, communications, computing and intelligence systems. In addition to a standalone system capability for the Marines, a key feature of NIMCIS will be the interoperability it provides between the Netherlands and UK forces, as allies and as part of the UK/NL Amphibious Force, as well as interoperability with other allied forces. NIMCIS replaces a variety of legacy communications systems within RNLMC.
The NIMCIS system will enhance the capabilities of the Marine Corps, and provide them with the ability to continue to operate effectively in the digital age,” said a spokesman for the RNLMC.
The BOWMAN system provides a state of the art, transformational voice and data capability that will put the Dutch Marines at the leading edge of proven network-enabled battlefield command and control. It is right and fitting that the Dutch Marines would want the advanced capability British forces are already receiving, to achieve interoperability in the UK/NL Amphibious Force,” said Sandy Wilson president and managing director of General Dynamics UK Limited. “We are delighted to have won our first BOWMAN export contract. This is a major success for General Dynamics UK, and confirmation BOWMAN is a battlefield discriminator.”
General Dynamics UK is the prime systems integrator for NIMCIS, which brings together products from world-class communications and command and control suppliers, including ITT Defence Limited and Harris Systems Limited.
Joint System Integration Body (JSIB)
General Dynamics UK and the UK Ministry of Defence are working in partnership to ensure the integration of core digitisation systems, sensors and BISAs onto Bowman through a system of systems integration service known as the Joint Systems Integration Body or JSIB.
Bowman and ComBAT and Information and Platform BISA (CIP) – collectively BCIP – were procured by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to meet the tactical communications need of the three armed services that will take part in, or provide support to UK land, amphibious and air manoeuvre operations for the next two decades. It provides a secure digital voice and data communications service and infrastructure providing a situational awareness capability that is deployable, scalable and meets the need of the individual platform, and collective headquarters.
There are a large number of other battlefield systems also that contribute significantly to tactical operations, and operate on, over or through the Bowman tactical communications system. The information these systems provide needs managing and moving around effectively so that commanders have the right information at the right times. These other systems are collectively termed Battlefield Information Systems Applications (BISAs) and need to be integrated with Bowman. In early 2008, the JSIB successfully completed the integration of these applications to achieve for the first time an integrated Command Battle Management (Land) (CBM(L)) system.
The JSIB is a partnering arrangement between General Dynamics UK and UK MoD Bowman and Tactical Communications and Information Systems (BATCIS) Delivery Team, established in 2003 and recently extended to 2012, for the integration of BISAs to BCIP and assuring CBM(L) integrity. The JSIB is the centre of expertise for the co-ordinated development of a digitised battlespace environment, centred around Command and Battlespace Management (Land) CBM(Land).
As well as having developed a pioneering process within the Land environment, the JSIB is the liaison point between BISA project team’s, developers, network components and BCIP and provides advice and guidance to support successful integration. The JSIB role includes: stakeholder collaboration; risk identification and management; provision of system integration and test facilities; programme and integration planning; concurrent integration/development support; guidance for cost estimating, modelling, contention and capacity testing, alignment with the greater CBM(Land) evolving architecture; provision and release of fieldable system integrated builds.
JSIB – Mil LabIn the longer term, as Bowman/CIP and core digitisation BISAs are integrated, fielded and delivered incrementally upgraded as required, the JSIB will continue to support the integration process for BISAs and related systems to join the growing NEC baseline.
The JSIB, is located at General Dynamics UK’s South Wales site, and consists of some 20 skilled systems engineers and integration engineers, a supporting laboratory and employees, programming support employees and BISA relationship managers who facilitate information flows between General Dynamics UK and the BISA IPTs. Although the core of the JSIB consists of General Dynamics UK employees, a significant number of the JSIB team are UK MoD Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) personnel and contractors and employees from other industry players contributing specific BISA and modelling expertise to the integration process.
When developing highly complex, bespoke digital systems, a significant amount of specialist architectural analysis and integration testing of the elements that constitute the system is essential to determine the issues that must be resolved before the system can be considered ready for use. JSIB provides this specialist service.
The core engineering effort is first directed at analysing the BISA architecture against an agreed Bowman baseline to determine form and fit, and then at conducting integration testing of the BISA with Bowman to identify anomalies that need to be addressed before system acceptance and fielding. The emphasis is on interactions between the systems. In practice this means producing test-scripts that are exercised within the JSIB laboratory and, as issues are identified, both analysing their root cause and assessing the options for the preferred technical solution balanced against cost.
The management of the integration process is achieved via a number of maturity gates through which component applications must pass – System Integration Readiness Gates (SIRG’s). These gates are checkpoints to ensure that components are ready to move onto the next phase of the integration process. The SIRG gates are aligned with TRLs and SRLs.This comprehensive gating process, presided over by the DE&S, tracks the integration work through the JSIB before the BISA is considered ready for field testing. The three initial core BISAs (FC BISA, GBAD BISA and MAKEFAST) have all been successfully integrated on four different BCIP versions.
Historically, BCIP and BISAs have been developed concurrently. This is likely to continue with current applications and a new generation of systems – sensors, platforms and weapon systems to be integrated alongside the evolution of BCIP itself.
Key to future development will be the recognition of the needs of other developments and systems with which interconnectivity and interoperability are required, plus the ability to be flexible enough to respond to changing deployment requirements. Future processes are likely to align with a concept and continuing assessment phase approach and close collaboration with other DE&S project teams and their customers will be essential.
The role of the JSIB is also critical in the support of existing applications through life, utilising our expertise and facilities in the resolution of in-service defects and introduction of software upgrades.
Currently the JSIB is looking ahead to the future BISAs, and other significant integration tasks such as LEAPP, ASTOR, Watchkeeper, SV and CBRN, to determine what their information requirements might be in relation to the emerging BCIP programme and to assist in the early integration risk reduction activity. We will also determine how the MoD should manage the regression testing that will be necessary as CBM (L) evolves. The JSIB team supports the early analysis of BISA/Bowman interactions to determine where there might be messaging difficulties and define the information exchanges within the business space in which the BISAs and Bowman operate, thereby creating a common understanding of the problem space.
The JSIB is now looking at how it can evolve and provide a wider systems of systems integration capability.