Forgive the long post, but was interesting and published in an American journal (Defense News) which I cannot link to. In outline: BOWMAN is going to cost more, but not much more. Its been sold to Romania and Dutch Marines. In service on battlefield by 2007. U.K. To Evaluate New Battlefield Network By ANDREW CHUTER, OAKDALE, Wales The United Kingdomâs Bowman tactical communications program goes to the Ministry of Defenceâs powerful Investment Approvals Board (IAB) next month, with procurement officials hoping the committee will accept a revised plan to complete entry into service of the capability. A separate scheme for significant improvements beyond the current contract also is on the table. The revised plan is going before the IAB because General Dynamics UK, the Bowman prime contractor, failed to achieve the initial December 2004 in-service date for a key part of the project known as CIP. The CIP, or ComBAT battle management system, Infrastructure and Platform Battle Information System Application, experienced problems during field trials. The U.K. arm of General Dynamics, Falls Church, Va., has been under the spotlight since it signed the Bowman deal in September 2001. Previous Ministry of Defence (MoD) attempts to replace the aging Clansman system with a new communications network collapsed, pouring criticism on the ministry and leading to a new competition subsequently secured by the U.S. company. Bowman will give the U.K. military digital communications, data services and situational awareness capabilities needed for tomorrowâs network-enabled battlefield. The contract was extended in December 2002 with the CIP element. That gave General Dynamics just two years to get CIP into service. CIP adds new layers of capability and complexity to the 2 billion pound ($3.5 billion) Bowman program, including additional data-processing equipment and command-and-control software and the infrastructure to support it. The program intended to fix the problems needs re-approval by the IAB. But in addition, General Dynamics, along with the Defence Procurement Agency, has opted to add new features to the contract, and drop those no longer required, since the deal was signed. âA lot of things have gone into this revised plan. We have taken in quite a number of new requirements and traded out a number of old requirements that are now considered less of a priority,â said Sandy Wilson, managing director of General Dynamics UK, here. There had been a constant change in user priorities, partly because Bowman was bid against a system specification rather than a user requirement, said Wilson. Not surprisingly, the âspecification doesnât fully reflect the use requirement,â he said. Now the proposal to complete the Bowman/CIP contract to a level known as Bowman 5.2 will address many of those problems. But it comes at a cost. Wilson said there is âmore being traded in than being traded out, so instead of being financially neutral, there is a funding increase.â He declined to comment on the likely cost ahead of the IAB meeting, but said it was âin the small tens of millions of pounds.â The plan expected to go before the IAB in September envisions a CIP in-service date of December, with full Bowman/CIP operational readiness for the battlefield by early 2007. An MoD spokesman declined to discuss the IAB deliberations, but said the ministry is âquite content with CIP progress.â CIP Review The CIP systemâs failure to meet expectations during 2004 field trials sparked an independent review of the program. That is what led to Bowman going back to the IAB. âThe review looked at how Bowman was performing against the vision of what it was required to do â not what was in our contract, but what the Army had as an expectation four years on from the original contract,â said Andrew Browne, General Dynamics Bowman vice president. âToday, people are a lot more knowledgeable about data systems. The outcome of that is we are currently going through a re-plan.â Browne said the company now is focusing on three strands of work: âFixing an intercom problem to get 7th Armoured to Iraq [with Bowman fitted to the Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles], close out the Bowman development program as currently defined, and then the creation of a new stream of work to develop and integrate new requirements as they emerge.â The MoD spokesman said âno decision about whether Challenger 2 and Warrior would deploy to Iraq with Bowman had been taken ahead of trials of a possible solution to the problem.â If the IAB accepts the third element of the revised plan, that could see further software increments introduced and different information systems, like the recently ordered Falcon tactical-level information infrastructure, being integrated with Bowman/CIP. The exact plan is still being put together but is aimed at improving network-enabling capabilities as part of an initiative known here as Command and Battlespace Management (Land). âBowman/CIP is now essentially a software product that has to be constantly updated with a series of capability releases,â said Wilson. âThe one we are talking about is the first of these.â Bowman in Iraq The IAB appraisal is being undertaken against a continuing rollout of Bowman. The first Bowman-equipped brigade deployed to Iraq in April, with limited CIP functions. A second brigade equipped with the new system, 7th Armoured, is due in theater in October. Neither have full war-fighting capability. Installation trials in the British Merlin and Chinook support helicopter fleets are getting under way, and naval assets are being fitted with Bowman for operations in coastal areas. The first deployment of 12 Mechanised Brigade attracted criticism because the Challenger 2s and Warriors could not be fitted with Bowman. There was a problem trying to adapt old headsets to the new digital system. General Dynamics officials said a patch for the intercom problem had a successful trial with the Army here, and they see no reason why 7th Armoured Brigade vehicles should not be deployed with Bowman. The systemâs deployment has reaped more than 40 million pounds ($70 million) in additional revenue this year to supply spare parts and meet urgent British operational requirements. Wilson said the company was starting to get good feedback from soldiers in the field. âThe sorts of thing we are starting to see is a single command net over very large areas of rural Iraq, some 8,000 square kilometers. For the first time, we can track convoys with situational awareness.â The company also revealed it was making headway in the export market, with the sale of a basic Bowman system to Romania. In July, the firm also signed a 50 million pound deal to supply the system to the Dutch Marines.