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.
ComBAT and P-BISA are the two main components in the battle management system which was procured as part of the UK’s Bowman project, although it contributes to the wider Digitisation of the Battlespace (Land) programme.
The system consists of:
- Common Battlefield Application Toolset (ComBAT)
- Armoured Platform Battlefield Information System Application (P-BISA) – known as Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure and Platform (BCIP). BCIP consists of three interrelated projects fielded together as a single system.
ComBAT provides situation awareness, instant messaging, mission planning, logistics, intelligence and a geographical information system; and has been optimised for use in armoured fighting vehicles, individual dismounted soldier systems and operational staff configurations.
The Infrastructure part of BCIP includes the provision of a variety of hardware and software items, particularly to support the operation of Headquarters. Hardware includes A1 plotters, large screen displays, A3 / A4 printers, servers with RAID storage, projectors and smartboards. Software includes an office automation suite, originally OpenOffice, now changed to Microsoft Office in BCIP 5.4, centralised file and printer sharing, and network Quality of Service management supporting a Bulk File Transfer capability between headquarters.
The Platform Battlefield Information System Application (P-BISA) integrates ComBAT and the infrastructure software, together with existing and planned systems and sensors into armoured fighting vehicles. P-BISA introduces additional man machine interface (MMI) enhancements allowing for operations to be performed on-the-move in the form of crew station bezel function keys, commanders point device (CPD) and optimised ComBAT screen layout/functions.
BCIP 5 provides a number of improvements over the previously fielded version, BCIP 4.F (fielded) introduced into service in March 2004, principally provided a secure voice capability. An interim enhanced software release with improved data capability (BCIP 5.2.1) was approved in January 2008. BCIP 5.4, contracted in June 2009 and delivered in May 2010, was successfully deployed into theatre.
BCIP 5 enhances Bowman’s data interoperability with coalition networks, supporting the UK Sitaware message which is compatible with MIP Block 2 gateways. BCIP 5 hosts third party BISAs: the fire control (FC) BISA; the combat engineering BISA MAKEFAST; and GBAD BriC (Ground Based Air Defence Bridging Capability).
In January 2011, General Dynamics UK was contracted under a UOR to deliver updated software to enhance BCIP 5.4 interoperability with other in-theatre systems to provide features in the areas of situational awareness, operational staff work, tactical graphics and a chat gateway – this was delivered in September 2011. Subsequent release in 2012 and 2013 enhanced capability, with delivering Web Map Services and chat templates.
The current fielded baseline of BCIP, BCIP 5.5, was contracted in April 2011 and started fielding in 2013. It introduced software enhancements (including the UOR enhancements) to reduce system complexity, improve interoperability and increase ease of use.
In March 2016, it was announced that, under the terms of a £175 million UK Ministry of Defence contract, Bowman was to be upgraded with BCIP 5.6 and the supply of 12,000 new data terminals, including introduction of COTS data terminal equipment for use in dismounted roles – both man-carried and Headquarters. At £135 million, General Dynamics UK was the principal beneficiary of the contract.
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.
Dutch Marines Go Digital
General Dynamics UK 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.