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C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

British Army begins Bowman update

11 September 2018
A staff Officer of 12 Brigade operates a Bowman terminal during Exercise ‘Lightning Ace’ on which BCIP 5.6 was trialed. Source: British Army

The British Army begins the update of its Bowman communications system in the next few weeks with the delivery of Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure P-BISA (BCIP) 5.6 to 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade, based in Paderborn, Germany. BCIP 5.6 is the largest single upgrade to Bowman since it entered service and includes a significant redesign of the Battlefield Management Application (ComBAT) in order to make staff planning more intuitive, quicker, and easier.

The software has the potential to host some third-party applications. This is a significant departure from previous iterations and is part of a general move to open architecture, whereby software from third parties and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware will be readily integrated. The GBP175 million (USD228 million) UK Ministry of Defence contract announced in March 2016 includes delivery of 12,000 new data terminals. This is planned to be the last major upgrade of Bowman prior to the transition to Morpheus from 2023 onwards, which takes the Evolve to Open (EvO) concept further.

The commander of 12 Armoured Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Adrian Reilly, commented after trials in 2017, The greatest improvement has been the human interface. The ComBAT software is inherently more intuitive than its predecessor, which was well received by everyone that used it. Improved functionality comes from the similarities with the Microsoft Office suite of software that our staff routinely use.”

The VHF network has been optimised to improve data transmission and through the introduction of Situational Awareness Tagged-On Voice (SAToV), a user’s location will automatically be transmitted when a voice message is sent. The upgrade also includes a new 3D geographic information system and improvements to the planning software, including the ability to conduct faster regrouping when reassigning force elements to different formations, which has previously been noted as a problem by users. Network resilience has been improved by removing the reliance on GPS for time synchronisation.

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