Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Annex A (continued)


  BOWMAN will provide a secure, robust, tactical data and voice communications system in support of land, littoral and air manoeuvre operations, to replace the Clansman combat radio and some of the HQ infrastructure element of the Ptarmigan trunk communication system. It will be a key enabler of network-enabled capability and also play a major role in the MoD's Command and Battlespace Management initiative under which it will be progressively integrated with specialist applications.

  General Dynamics UK Ltd (GD UK), formerly known as Computing Devices Canada (CDC), was awarded the BOWMAN supply and support contract on 13 September 2001. At the end of 2002, the contract was extended to enhance the system's operational planning and control capabilities, and additional information services, as well as procuring specialist applications for key armoured fighting vehicles. The MoD is working in close partnership with GD UK and its sub-contractors to achieve the target in service date (ISD) of March 2004.

Operational Requirement

  BOWMAN is required to provide a secure combat communications system for the Army and elements of the other Services, in support of land and littoral operations. It will serve as the primary means of voice and data communication for tactical level operations—characterised by mobility and undertaken by numerous individual fighting platforms and dismounted combatants—and will be based on radio communications that can operate without relying on fixed infrastructure. The BOWMAN system will be made up of: a number of radio communications sub-systems that are connected to provide a tactical internet; a range of computers that provide messaging, situation awareness and management information; a local area sub-system that interconnects data terminals and voice users within a vehicle or group of vehicles forming a deployed divisional, brigade or battlegroup headquarters; and connections to trunk, satellite and strategic communications systems. It will have a capability for fast data communications and connections with external networks, and excellent voice and slower data transfer. As well as being man-portable, BOWMAN will be an integral part of the communications fit of major equipments such as the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, helicopters such as Merlin, and warships, including T45.

  This breadth of requirement was developed over the extended BOWMAN programme between 1988 and 1997. Reviews in 1999 and 2000 confirmed that the current scope is both appropriate and affordable.


  The scope for trade-offs was identified within the User Requirement Document, in terms of cost, capability and time, across the requirements spectrum, from total numbers of radios to the level of integration that would be provided for different platforms. Some detailed reductions in functionality were agreed, and ruggedized off-the-shelf, rather than bespoke, computer terminals will be used. The delivery of capability will be staged: elements of the system that are assessed to require prolonged development to reduce risk will be delivered after the ISD. However, the GD UK plan shows a rapid programme through to completion of deliveries in 2007.


  On current plans, BOWMAN equipment will be fitted to some 20,000 vehicles, 139 naval vessels (including five capital ships) and 239 aircraft, and some 75,000 Service personnel will be trained to use it. Around 48,000 radios (excluding the Personal Role) and 26,000 computer terminals will be procured.

Strategic Defence Review

  The Strategic Defence Review highlighted the importance of effective command, control and communication systems, and confirmed the requirement for BOWMAN. The New Chapter noted that through BOWMAN the MoD is already investing in the network element of network-enabled capability, and is also developing specialist applications to collate, fuse, analyse and control the distribution of information.

Military Capability

  As the primary means of communication at the tactical level for land operations, BOWMAN will be used across the spectrum of conflict, for all missions and at all scales of deployment. BOWMAN will be central to the command and control, and therefore the effective deployment, of forces used for military tasks ranging from disaster relief to regional conflict.

Equipment to be Replaced and ISD

  BOWMAN will replace the Clansman family of combat radios in service since the 1970s. It will also replace those elements of the Ptarmigan trunk communication system within vehicle borne tactical headquarters at divisional, brigade and battlegroup level.

  The ISD, as approved at Main Gate, is March 2004. This is defined as the date when a brigade HQ and two battlegroups are equipped and capable of deploying on other operations. The Clansman family of combat radios and the relevant elements of Ptarmigan will be progressively removed from service over the period 2003-07, as BOWMAN is deployed.

  It has been possible, however, to plan for the early delivery of a small but significant operational capability that had previously been tied to the delivery of the whole system. Through the application of Smart Acquisition principles, the Personal Role Radio, a short range, non-secure tactical radio for use at section level, is being delivered in advance of the main BOWMAN system. Early deliveries were made in late 2001 to troops deploying for Exercise Saif Sareea and on operations in Afghanistan. ISD was declared on 29 January 2002, two months earlier than the formal target of March 2002. Over 30,000 of the 45,000 equipments ordered have been delivered.

Acquisition Approach

  Initial work on BOWMAN was conducted by two consortia that undertook Phase 2 Feasibility Study and PD1 work. Following completion of PD1 in late 1996, the competing consortia announced their intention to form a joint venture company, known as Archer Communications Systems Ltd (ACSL), to bid for the BOWMAN supply contract. This resulted in a review of the procurement options open to the MoD, namely continuing with either one of the consortia, continuing with ACSL, or finding a new prime systems integrator. A revised, single source, procurement strategy for BOWMAN and the remainder of the risk reduction work was approved in March 1997, and a risk reduction contract was placed with ACSL in August 1997.

  Assessment of ACSL's final bid showed it as unable to meet the minimum performance requirements and the decision was taken to remove preferred supplier status from the Company and to launch a fresh competition. A pre-qualification questionnaire exercise was conducted resulting in the selection of three potential prime contractors: CDC, Thales and TRW. Bids for the BOWMAN supply and support contract were received from each of the potential prime contractors on 7 February 2001. The evaluation process assessed the performance, programme management, commercial, and risk areas of the bids, with the main emphasis being on delivering the relevant BOWMAN criteria at the ISD with a viable and affordable programme. The three month assessment and clarification period concluded that CDC offered the best value for money solution to the BOWMAN requirement, together with high confidence of delivering an early ISD. The results of the assessment phase informed the Main Gate submission in June 2001. Preferred supplier status was awarded to GD UK (as CDC had become) and final negotiations resulted in the signature of a firm price contract on 13 September 2001.

  Although providing for the procurement of VHF air radios, the BOWMAN approval explicitly precluded their integration onto the Attack Helicopter (AH). Concerns about the operational constraints imposed on AH by the lack of secure data and more flexible secure voice connectivity were expressed in late 2001, and GD UK was invited to undertake risk reduction work associated with a secure data solution. Approval was given in March 2003 to extend the BOWMAN contract to procure a secure data capability between BOWMAN users and AH, and to undertake an assessment of providing a secure voice rebroadcast capability. Fielded coincident with 16 Air Assault Brigade's conversion to BOWMAN, this will be an interim capability until an AH Capability Sustainment Package is introduced in 2012.

Alternative Acquisition Options

  The options of upgrading Clansman or procuring an austere off-the-shelf solution were examined at the time of the review of procurement options in 1997 but were not considered to be cost-effective for meeting the requirement. A number of alternative technical options were examined, as was the validity of the basic approach to BOWMAN in the light of rapid developments in the mobile communications field. This analysis demonstrated that the BOWMAN approach was best able to meet the military requirement and could lead to a robust solution.

Export Potential

  The sophistication and cost of BOWMAN will limit the market for the total system but there will be scope for supplying elements in a number of countries: those where VHF and HF radios bought from the selected BOWMAN suppliers are already operated and that might seek an upgrade using elements of the BOWMAN system; and, those that wish to improve their capability at brigade level and below.

  There has, however, been a notable success with the Personal Role Radio. The US Marine Corps procured 5,000 of these radios in February 2003 for deployment to the Gulf.

Industrial Factors

  In its bid, GD UK offered to secure around 1,600 jobs (90% of the work content) across the UK in design, development, manufacture and project management. GD UK has based its BOWMAN HQ in South Wales and plans, at the peak, to create or sustain over 2,000 jobs across the UK on this project. Major UK sub-contractors include ITT Defence Ltd, Westland Helicopters Ltd and AEA Technology. There will be significant technology transfer to the UK, and MoD will hold appropriate intellectual property rights, available for use by other companies working on linked projects. Industry has committed itself to maintaining development and production facilities in the UK.

Smart Acquisition

  Smart Acquisition has given the MoD scope to deal with BOWMAN in a controlled and managed way. The freedom to trade requirements in search of a more cost-effective solution enabled "fallback" options to be identified in case the ACSL bid failed. The results of these studies revealed that there were realistic alternatives to ACSL that could be rapidly pursued. The MoD was, therefore, able to re-open the competition in search of value for money rather than stopping the entire programme and starting from scratch, delaying BOWMAN even further. The Prime Contract with GD UK incorporates Smart Acquisition principles, in partnering, incentives and a shared data environment.

  We have been able to adopt an incremental acquisition approach and have delivered the Personal Role Radio element of the programme ahead of the main BOWMAN system.

Acquisition Phases

  Following signature of the BOWMAN Supply and Support contract in September 2001, this project is currently in demonstration and manufacture.

Milestones and Costs

  Key milestones now in prospect for this project are:

Conversion of the first unit (an infantry battalion) July-September 2003
In Service DateMarch 2004
First Army Brigade achieves warfighting operational readiness June 2005
3 Commando Brigade achieves warfighting operational readiness September 2005
16 Air Assault Brigade achieves warfighting operational readiness 2006
End of BOWMAN conversion programme2007

  On a full resource basis the acquisition costs of BOWMAN are estimated to be £2.419 billion, excluding long term support. Costs incurred to 31 March 2003 are estimated to be some £751 million. The expected cost of procuring the secure data capability between BOWMAN users and AH on a full resource basis is roughly £37 million excluding long term support, together with £0.3 million for the secure voice rebroadcast capability assessment.

In-Service Support

  The BOWMAN supply and support contract encompasses the provision of initial spares and facilities to support operations that will be supplied with the prime equipment and installations, contractor support to ensure sustainability of the deployed system for five years, and reprovisioning activity. The level of support required is being determined using integrated logistics support principles. The importance of reliability and spares availability, and their impact on equipment sustainability, is reflected in the contract. The use of existing spares and equipment, where appropriate, was mandated. Training is being addressed under a tri-Service training needs analysis that will recommend training methodologies and training media.

  The programme to convert fighting platforms and formations to operate BOWMAN is a major task that will be carried out over a total of five years, including a three year period of main conversion. For the main customer, the Army, conversion will be undertaken as each operational unit, principally a brigade, enters its training year within the Formation Readiness Cycle. The BOWMAN Fielding Plan addresses the requirement to provide support to both the new system and that being replaced, and parallel BOWMAN and Clansman training will be needed at certain locations.

Front Line, Storage and Reserves

  In accordance with the principles of whole fleet management, BOWMAN equipment that is not assigned to the front line will be held in reserve, although there will be no formal war reserve. Spares to support BOWMAN will be held in storage, under arrangements still to be decided.


  National interoperability for land operations will be achieved as all elements of the three Services that take part in the land or littoral battle will be equipped with BOWMAN. International interoperability will be achieved through the implementation of all endorsed NATO Standards applicable to the operating environment. To achieve secure interoperability, BOWMAN mandates the endorsed NATO applique unit to meet NATO encryption interoperability standards.

Disposal of Equipment to be Replaced

  Disposal Services Agency will consider the most appropriate disposal route (sale or scrap) for Clansman equipment that is no longer required. Relevant parts of Ptarmigan will be retained as spares to support the Ptarmigan elements remaining in service.

In-Service Life

  BOWMAN is planned to be in service for at least 25 years.

Development Potential

  In late 2002 the BOWMAN prime contract was extended to procure a set of common software tools to aid the planning and control of operations, and additional information services to enable the concurrent operation of other specialist applications. Together with a project to provide an integrated digital commander's terminal to optimise the fightability of armoured fighting vehicles, these are known as CIP and will be introduced into service concurrently with BOWMAN. Giving this work to the BOWMAN Prime Contractor, with its comprehensive understanding of the requirement, minimises technical risk, avoids duplication of effort, aligns the programmes, and achieves significant economies of scale. In keeping with Smart Acquisition principles, the initial CIP design will be modular and extensible allowing the incremental integration of further specialist applications and the exploitation of new technologies downstream. In the short term, specialist applications to provide digitised artillery fire control, air defence command and control, and nuclear, biological and chemical defence warning and reporting will be integrated with CIP, and additional applications will be rolled out progressively over the next decade. The expected cost of procuring CIP, excluding long term support, is £358 million (cash at outturn prices).


  The Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) is the generic name for the capability being sought to enhance the deployability of Land Forces, providing significant improvements to the time and effect that can be brought to bear through improvements in mobility, lethality and a reduced logistics footprint. It is currently anticipated that the capability will be provided by a system of medium weight armoured vehicles that will replace the existing FV430 series, CVR(T) series, Saxon and potentially in the longer term some elements of the Warrior and CR2 force. FRES will be an integral element of any future network enabled force.

  FRES has not yet passed the Initial Gate investment decision. This is currently planned for Spring 2003.

Operational Requirement

  FRES will be required to provide a capability to deploy an effective, combined arms land based force between the two existing extremes of heavy armour (slow to arrive and with a large footprint) and light forces (quick strategic deployment but limited endurance and reach).

  FRES must be able to be deployed quickly with minimal logistical support in agile combined-arms force packages to engage in missions across the spectrum of conflict from war-fighting to peacekeeping and be able to achieve knowledge superiority via organic and inorganic assets through network-enabled capability.

  Components of the FRES capability are expected to include Protected Mobility, Mobility Support, Indirect Fire Support and Control, Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Scout, Direct Engagement, Engineer and Logistical Support and Communications.

  FRES will be the first Land combat vehicle system able to exploit fully the capabilities of Command and Battlespace Management (CBM). It will have a Network-Enabled Capability (NEC) that will allow FRES to enhance joint force situational awareness, sensor-shooter links, flexible reorganising, agility and effects based planning. This will result in improved control, targeting precision and time sensitivity, rapidity of effect and force protection.


  The scope for trade-offs in terms of cost, capability and time across the requirements spectrum from the total numbers to the levels of capability provided by each component will be explored during the assessment phase of the programme and the development of the User Requirement document.


  The final size of the force will be determined during the assessment phase and any trade-off decisions that are made.

Strategic Defence Review

  In articulating the need for a UK defence capability to project power rapidly world-wide, the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and subsequent New Chapter (NC) work made specific reference to FRES. Paragraph 51 of Section 2 of the New Chapter (Countering Terrorism Abroad) set out strategic context for the requirement. It stated that as part of our move towards more rapidly deployable forces, we are also pursuing the concept of a Future Rapid Effect System, a family of air-transportable medium-weight armoured vehicles.

Military Capability

  FRES will provide a significant enhancement to the UK's military capability providing improvements to the mobility and lethality of medium weight forces and the time that this can be brought to effect.

Equipment to be Replaced and In-Service Date

  In addition to providing a new rapid effect capability, FRES will provide a replacement for CVR(T), SAXON and FV430. The ISD has still to be finalised. The planning assumption is for the end of the decade.

Acquisition Approach

  The Department is currently considering the Acquisition approach for the Assessment and future phases of the programme. It is planned to submit the Initial Gate Business Case for approval in Spring 2003.


  No decisions have yet been taken on systems designs that will impact on crewing. These issues will be addressed during the forthcoming Assessment Phase.

Alternative Procurement Options

  A range of alternate procurement options will be considered during the Assessment Phase. These will include extending the life and enhancing the capability of the current in service armoured vehicle fleet.

Industrial Factors

  Industrial issues related to the programme will be taken into account in the Initial Gate investment decision.

International Collaboration

  It is not currently planned to enter into a formal collaborative programme at system level for the Assessment Phase. However, opportunities for collaborating on sub-systems and sharing information on technologies and requirements will be explored during the Assessment Phase and the scope for future collaboration assessed prior to the Main Gate investment decision.

Smart Acquisition

  FRES will seek to exploit Smart Acquisition initiatives and to identify and pursue additional opportunities to introduce new or revised practices to deliver the FRES capability faster, cheaper and better.

Export potential

  Whilst the programme is at an embryonic stage we would expect the capability offered by FRES to attract interest from potential export customers, based on the export success of some of the systems it is planned to replace.

Milestones and Costs

  Major programme milestones will be agreed as part of the Initial Gate Investment decision that is currently planned for Spring 2003.

  Costs are yet to be fully established, but could be in the region of £6 billion. This estimate includes provision for a planned programme of technology upgrades throughout the life of the fleet.

In-Service Support

  A key requirement of FRES is the need to sustain operations of extended duration and operate over long lines of communication with limited transport assets. This will necessitate high levels of operational availability, and significantly reduced logistic demands. It will need to be frugal in its consumption of fuels, oils, road gear (tracks or tyres) and technical spares in comparison with the current in service equipment. It must be reliable and easy to maintain and service. The anticipated improvements in efficiency will contribute to speed of deployment and reduce the logistic footprint.

  Development of the support strategy for the system will be a key element of the work to be conducted during the Assessment Phase.


  FRES will be required to integrate fully with a wide range of battlefield assets to enable the delivery of joint effects. It will also be expected to support joint operations with NATO allies. Achievement of interoperability requirements will be a factor to be addressed during the Assessment Phase.

In-Service Life and Further Development

  FRES is expected to be in service for some 30 years. The ability of potential solutions to accommodate incremental enhancements to upgrade the capability by exploiting new technologies in response to changing threats will be a key consideration for the Assessment Phase.

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