C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

UK eyes new digital radios as Morpheus advances

10 December 2018

An officer of 12 Brigade operates a Bowman terminal during Exercise ‘Lightning Ace’. Source: British Army

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a new request for information (RFI) seeking industry input on next-generation software-defined radios, kick-starting efforts to eventually replace legacy multi-mode radios (MMRs) as part of a wide-ranging Morpheus communications upgrade.

The RFI was released to industry in late November to assess what is currently available on the market. The MoD is considering a future MMR “that shall be a software-defined combat net radio capable of operating across a broad range of frequencies, from 30 MHz to 2,000 MHz, to deliver point to point, networked, or mobile ad hoc network [MANET] communications”, the RFI said.

It added: “It shall make use of differing waveforms and cryptographic standards and cyphers to achieve secure communication effect, enabling simultaneous voice and data transmission in both line-of-sight [LOS] and beyond line-of-sight [BLOS] roles.”

The UK MoD said it is seeking dismounted and vehicle-mounted solutions that can be deployed across a “broad spectrum” of operational and climatic conditions. According to documentation viewed by Jane’s , the future MMR is considered a “discrete” element of the Morpheus sub-programme, which falls under the wider Land Environment Tactical Communication Information Systems (LE TacCIS) modernisation.

The UK uses the Bowman family of tactical radios to provide secure high frequency (HF), very HF (VHF), and ultra HF (UHF) voice and data communications. Bowman is now going through its final major upgrade – known as Bowman ComBAT Infrastructure P-BISA (BCIP) 5.6 – before a ‘Main Gate’ decision on Morpheus is expected in the early 2020s. During this transition phase, General Dynamics Mission Systems UK has been contracted to develop a new open architecture standard known as Evolve-to-Open (EvO).

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