AgustaWestland is completing its Trial Installation testing of the Bowman radio system in the Royal Air Force’s EH101 Merlin HC Mk.3 and Chinook HC Mk.2/2A helicopters under a contract from Bowman prime contractor General Dynamics UK.
This represents the first rotary wing aircraft to be fitted with the new radio system. The contract requires the Company to install the Bowman radio system into the RAF’s EH101 Merlin and Chinook fleets.
The US radio supplier, ITT Defense, developed the Bowman VHF equipment from their highly successful SINCGARS radio, used in large numbers by the Armed Forces of the USA and other nations. The Bowman radio uses fast frequency hopping with embedded encryption to handle both voice and data transmissions.
For the airborne application, ITT has re-packaged the ground radio as an aircraft component, to certify it for airborne applications and make it interoperable with the land version. Bowman will be introduced to both aircraft types progressively through 2007.
In the Chinook Mk 2/2a, in addition to the Bowman equipment, AgustaWestland has installed a modern Secure Communications Control System, the Thales RA 800M, which uses fibre-optic transmission to enhance communications security.
In the EH101 Merlin Mk 3, AgustaWestland introduced a software upgrade to the Aircraft Management System, integrating the complex radio management requirements into the aircraft system.
AgustaWestland is looking forward to the opportunity to embody Bowman into other in service aircraft and include it in the basic communications suite of Future Lynx variants for the UK MoD. Bowman provides a tactical data messaging service, using Transmission Control Protocols (TCP) developed from the commercial internet environment.
This service supports the flow of digitized information and provides the Situational Awareness functionality known as ComBAT. At present, the aircraft modification only provides the Bowman voice service.
AgustaWestland is actively reviewing solutions for the display and management of elements of the data service in the air as part of a Rotorcraft BISA (Battlefield Information Software Application).
AgustaWestland has already delivered the Bowman Apache Mission Planning System (BAMPS). This enables data messages from the Improved Data Modem (IDM) in the aircraft to be transmitted into Bowman networks. BAMPS also has the potential to support the distribution of the rotorcrafts mission planning information across the land domain, an important contribution to future Mission Support Systems (MSS) and the effectiveness of the operations.
The Bowman Contract was awarded to AgustaWestland in 2001 by the Bowman Prime Contractor, General Dynamics (UK) Limited. This major contract made AgustaWestland responsible for delivering user and operator training to more than 70,000 UK Armed Forces personnel.
AgustaWestland also manages the Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) for the programme and installs Bowman in a wide variety of fixed land installations around the world.