The first elements of what will be one of the world's most capable battlefield communications systems - BOWMAN - have been accepted into service ahead of schedule by Britain's Armed Forces, Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Bach, said today.
Once fully implemented, BOWMAN will provide a secure voice and data communication system for our land forces and selected elements of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, until at least 2025. As well as being man-portable, it will be an integral part of the communication fit of major equipment such as warships, main battle tanks and helicopters. The achievement is an important step on the road to delivering enhanced war fighting capability that fully meets the requirements of our Armed Forces.
A British Army mechanized brigade bagan equipping with BOWMAN last year and has conducted a series of intensive trials of the system's readiness.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Lord Bach, said:
"Today's news is a tribute to all those in MOD and industry who have worked on this immensely challenging and demanding project. Work on fine-tuning the equipment to bring it to full combat-ready capability next year is underway. The delivery of a robust secure voice replacement for Clansman has always been our priority and I am delighted that BOWMAN has achieved this challenging target over 9 months earlier than our approved date.
"I know that BOWMAN has had a difficult history, but in 2001, after years of delay and forecast cost growth, we selected a preferred supplier to take forward the BOWMAN programme. Although our approved in-service date is December 2004, we set a demanding target to deliver by 30 March 2004. This target was just 30 months from the September 2001 contract award to General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd, a challenge unprecedented on such a complex acquisition project.
"I remain confident that BOWMAN will revolutionise the way we conduct operations. What BOWMAN will do is bring to the battlefield many of the technologies people are familiar with in the office such as reliable voice links, e-mail and quick data transfer, as well as adittional military features. The acceptance into service of BOWMAN represents a huge success for Smart Acquisition as well as a big step forward for the British Armed Forces".
Over a year after the BOWMAN contract was awarded, further developments were introduced to its battle management system and integration functions. This programme is known as CIP. A key advantage of aligning both programmes is that time and cost are saved through converting vehicles only once. Although considerable progress has been made on this programme, results from the recent trials show that a few more months are required to fully demonstrate its effectiveness.
BOWMAN will provide a marked increase in operational tempo, firepower lethality and survivability across all our Armed Service and will be a key enabler for the UK's Network Enabled Capability. The first brigade converted to BOWMAN will undertake a further 15 months of unit and collective performance training and, as with the programme to date, the brigade will be closely involved in the development and proving of BOWMAN.
1. General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd was awarded the MOD's £1.9 billion contract to build and supply the BOWMAN digital communications infrastructure in 2001. The BOWMAN system, which will be used operationally by the first military units from next year, will give the UK's Armed Forces a battle-winning digital communications infrastructure. Thousands of digital communications terminals will be installed in tanks, other vehicles, aircraft and ships to allow seamless, secure communication. Across the UK, BOWMAN will create or sustain about 2,000 jobs.
2. The BOWMAN tactical communications system has been declared "in service" because it has been delivered to and is now in use with three Army units and we have assessed that the elements which together deliver military capability - including equipment and training - are suitable for operations. BOWMAN now delivers reliable, secure voice communications right down to infantry section, or squad, level, a marked improvement over that provided by the in-service Clansman radio.
Following delivery of the programme into service, the first brigade converted to BOWMAN will undertake a further period of unit and collective performance training, and BOWMAN's other features will be further developed and trialled, to achieve warfighting operational readiness in 2005.
3. CIP - Common Battlefield Application Toolset (ComBAT), Infrastructure (I) and armoured Platform Battlefield Information System Application (PBISA).