Industrial partners in the UK Army's Bowman communications programme have signed a Partnering Charter to ensure the continuous application of best practice principles throughout the implementation of the programme. The charter defines the vision, the mission and the values of the partnership and sets a framework for the successful fulfilment of the programme. Bowman will provide secure voice and data communication throughout the British Army down to combat unit level including air and amphibious support elements, an integral command and control system and the infrastructure, which will be the backbone of digitization of the battlefield. Archer Communications Systems Limited managed by British Aerospace is prime contractor and systems integrator for the BOWMAN programme. Archer and its three shareholders, British Aerospace, Racal Defence Electronics and ITT Defence, are the initial signatories to the Partnering Charter. It is planned to expand the charter to include other stakeholders over the next few weeks. The provisions of the Charter are consistent with the principles of Smart Procurement and are expected to set new standards for the efficient and harmonious operations of Integrated Project Teams. They set out to ensure that the British Army is provided with a benchmark communications system as an entry into digitization of the battlefield, and that the system meets or exceeds the customer's requirements at entry into service and throughout its life cycle. It commits the four signatories to using team working best practice to put the programme and the customer first. John Gutteridge, Archer's managing director, said: "BOWMAN is the most demanding and exciting programme in progress for the British Army. It is incumbent on the industrial partners for the programme to work together to exceed the customer's expectations both at the time of entry into service and right through the product's life cycle. By formalising this arrangement in a charter and regularly reviewing our performance against the charter, we will ensure that our highest priority is, and will continue to be, putting the needs of our customers first."