- Military Information Technology
Bowman Aims at Interoperability Target
The British military is beginning battalion field tests of a tactical
communications system that will not only bring digitization to all U.K.
ground units, but also improve interoperability.
By Adam Baddeley
The British military was scheduled late this fall to begin battalion field
tests of a tactical communications system that would not only bring
digitization to all U.K. ground units, but also enable it to interoperate
with U.S. forces more closely than ever before.
Both countries are now working via a recently signed memorandum of
understanding to make their Tactical Internets fully interoperable by first
adding the waveform for the British program, known as Bowman, to the U.S.
Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) waveform library. In addition, officials
reportedly are now discussing the sharing of each country's crypto, which
is something that has never been done before.
Computing Devices Canada-now General Dynamics UK (GD UK)-was awarded the $3
billion Bowman contract in 2001. The solution is an improved version of
Canada's IRIS System that includes a fourfold increase in data throughput
at the VHF level and the introduction of a wideband networking radio to
provide a further data transport backbone.
Delays, revisions to the requirement and failures by the British
government's original selection for Bowman to satisfy concerns about cost,
schedule and integration had led to massive overruns for Bowman's original
in service date (ISD) of 1995. GD UK promised the entire solution would be
fielded over three years, beginning in March 2004. This will extend, for
the first time, digitization to each vehicle and squad throughout the
British Army, Marines and Royal Air Force ground units, and mark a major
change from the current analog Clansman system.
"The Bowman ISD is really the significant point. That is when the United
Kingdom will have a secure, frequency-hopping communications system, with a
fairly complex self-organizing network, capable of fairly large amounts of
data throughput," said Larry Johnson, managing director of GD UK.
The size of the contract is massive. In terms of deliverables, Bowman
covers 41,498 HF and VHF Combat Net Radios; 3,458 High Capacity Data Radios
(HCDR); 10,669 Local Area Sub-system (LAS) installations; and 26,498
computers. The equipment will be installed on 133 naval vessels in 20
types, 239 aircraft in four types, 22,832 vehicles covering 181 types, and
used by 102,244 trained service personnel.
One illustration of the size of the program is the fact that for the Harris
RF Communications Division, a $200 million Bowman subcontract for more than
10,000 HF radios was the business unit's largest contract ever, explained
Chris Aebli, the company's Bowman program manager.
As a follow-on to the Bowman contract, GD UK contracted in 2001 to deliver
the ComBAT (Common Battlefield Application Toolset) Infrastructure and
Platform (CIP) BISA (Battlefield Information System Application), which
although contracted separately, is an integral part of Bowman. This
provides the battle management functionality and underlying physical and
information architecture for other BISA's to plug into, analogous to the
applications that are part of the U.S. Army's Army Battle Command System
suite of systems.
Bowman comprises U.S.-designed radios manufactured in Britain. The primary
radio used is the ITT Advanced Digital Radio Plus (ADR+), which in effect
is a SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems) ASIP
(Advanced System Improvement Program) radio modified for U.K. requirements.
The SINCGARS ASIP radio, in the hands of U.S. forces today, and the U.K.'s
ADR+ represent the core of both countries' Tactical Internets for the
foreseeable future and share a common heritage. Although the basic SINCGARS
was fielded from the late 1980s, work on the next generation SINCGARS for
the United States coincided with the British requirements for the ADR+.
Developments made by ITT for one user's needs were used to support
requirements on the other side of the Atlantic in a de facto co-evolution
throughout the 1990s.
Peter Bedwin, managing director of ITT's U.K. unit, explained that his
company's work on developing the ADR+ baseline in the areas of Internet
compatibility, improved waveforms and Forward Error Correction were brought
back over the Atlantic for SINCGARS. British requirements for a much
smaller radio led to the "half sized" ground and airborne SIP SINCGARS for
the United States, with both countries' requirements for an improved data
capability waveform helping each other's needs.
There are important differences, however. The British requirement mandated
a U.K. waveform, Pritchell cryptography and an embedded Global Positioning
System (GPS). The military GPS systems for Bowman are the Rockwell Collins
handheld Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver-III (PLGR) and Miniature PLGR
Engine (MPE-S) system, both incorporating the Selective Availability
Looking to the future, Bedwin said the company was exploring leveraging its
work with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency with the Soldier Level
Integrated Communications Environment (SLICE) program, which supports JTRS
Cluster 5, to improve Bowman networking solution in the future.
The United Kingdom is by far the largest single customer for the ITT
Mercury radio, and significant improvements have been made, Bedwin
explained, to the version used by the United States as the Near Term Data
Radio (NTDR). The Americans use the NTDR for communications between
Tactical Operations Centers, while Britain is installing the HCDR's
backbone data capability in approximately one in six vehicles throughout
its combat forces. This has meant the number of networking nodes supported
by each HCDR have been increased by a factor of 10 over that provided by
NTDR's in U.S. service. Design changes enabling series production have also
ITT and General Dynamics jointly developed new networking protocols to meet
the U.K. requirements implemented in both the radio and the network itself.
"Although the data radio is going to be 360 kbps, we in fact will have
multiple self-organizing ways through the network and therefore we'll have
a fairly high data rate of exchange," said Johnson, noting that this
capability "is probably half-way toward the network that will come with
Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and Future Combat Systems
Last Ditch Capability
Deliveries of the first 16 Harris Falcon II HF radios began in April this
year and are being ramped up to 400 a month by early 2005. Features
developed specifically for the British military have now become standard in
the Falcon II product line sold elsewhere. These include Last Ditch
Capability, which enables a very short voice or data message to be
pre-recorded and then transmitted at a rate of 75 bps in an emergency.
Harris also undertook substantial work developing an Internet Protocol (IP)
networking waveform for U.K. requirements, which Aebli described as
state-of-the-art data routing. Aebli said he anticipates that these
capabilities will reach U.S. users with deliveries of the AN/PRC-150 next
Production of all three radios is being undertaken in the United Kingdom at
a single factory shared by Harris and ITT. Both companies cite the facility
as an example of how they can work together for their NetForce 5 bid for
JTRS Cluster 5. Harris also sees the U.K. site as a potential regional
production hub for future exports.
The CIP, which is the basis for Britain's battlefield command and control,
is based on General Dynamics' battleWEB product. General Dynamics is also
supplying a fully IP version of its Meshnet system for the Bowman LAS,
providing switching in HQs and vehicles operating multiple radios.
U.S. forces are already using elements of the Bowman solution. The Personal
Role Radio (PRR), delivered to Britain by Marconi Selenia Communications in
a $25 million contract for 55,000 radios awarded in 2001, was originally
part of the Bowman program, providing a short-range (500 meters), small,
hand-held voice communications system to every soldier. This was taken out
of the Bowman requirement in 2000 and run as a separate program.
Following U.S. evaluation and observation of its effectiveness in British
hands in Southwest Asia, the Marine Corps ordered 5,000 radios. The British
government allowed radios to be taken straight from the British Army's
production line, with the first radios delivered to Marines in Iraq days
after the contract was signed.
The first Bowman battalion field trials were scheduled to take place in
December, with 117 vehicles of the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment,
part of 12th Mechanized Brigade. The Army, working with General Dynamics,
has already tested the system using 40 Land Rovers with a team based at
Software changes, which are a major element of Bowman development, are
being implemented incrementally. General Dynamics is introducing the last
software upgrades, in the form of communications management software,
networking software in the HCDR and key management software. The deadline
falls early in 2004, at which point it will be used as the ISD baseline
The United Kingdom's ISD capability, defined as the 12th Mechanized Brigade
being able to conduct operations other than war, is scheduled for March
2004. A full spectrum warfighting capability is scheduled for completion in
September 2005. The intervening time will be used for further exercises and
testing of the system, including shipping the brigade to the Army's
training site in Canada.
The Early CIP will enter service in September 2005, providing the full
warfighting capability to the Bowman system via the introduction of a
battle management system. This will supply the full command and control
functionality from the start, but will only support the integration of
three BISAs initially: Fire Control (Indirect Fire), Nuclear
Bacteriological Chemical, and Ground Based Air Defense.
Over the following 12 months, Johnson explained, the Full CIP (FCIP) will
be completed. "FCIP will provide us with the capability to integrate
numerous BISAs and provide the overall digitization. It also includes a lot
of infrastructure to support the follow-on software. We did this in stages
because of the complexity."
Johnson acknowledged that Bowman will not provide immediate
interoperability with U.S. systems. "Bowman was contracted at an earlier
age, where interoperability really meant the ability to interoperable with
the RAF and Marines. To that effect we have joint interoperability. We have
some NATO STANAGs that will give us [limited] interoperability within NATO,
but we don't have the full interoperability with the U.S. Army, either with
their digitized or their standard divisions."
Looking ahead, he continued, "I think what we are looking at are the next
stages of communications enhancements, which will probably be standardized
networking protocols across an IP network, software crypto and the
standardization of algorithms. I think in the U.K. a lot of this will come
from the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) program, whereas in the U.S. it
will largely come through FCS and WIN-T."
The FRES program, similar to FCS, is scheduled for fielding in late 2009.
In the interim, Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia are
working jointly toward international interoperability at the battle
management C2 level through the Multinational Interoperability Program
(MIP), in which GD UK is representing British industry. Johnson believes
the probable next step forward will be the ability to exchange C2 messages
using the ADat-P3 messaging format, which he believes will take place in
two to three years.
Crypto and security have always been barriers to true interoperability, and
under the Anglo-American memorandum of agreement, officials are exploring
how to overcome this. One concrete example of progress has been to include
the Bowman waveform in the JTRS waveform library, the only non-U.S.
"national" waveform to be included.
One technical solution would be to upgrade existing Bowman radios with a
software-defined crypto chip, of the type being used in JTRS with the
Harris Sierra and the GD AIM chips, enabling both countries' crypto to be
implemented on each other's radios.
"It is not technically difficult at all to do this, and it is being
discussed in the highest circles," Johnson said. "What has to be sorted out
is how to control it. For example, do you build into all Bowman radios the
opportunity to switch to U.S. crypto? Or do you only provide U.S. radios
the ability to go to U.K. crypto?"
R. A. Hettinga <mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED]>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
The Cryptography Mailing List
Unsubscribe by sending "unsubscribe cryptography" to [EMAIL PROTECTED]