Problems Forecast for BOWMAN System in NAO Report
The July/August issue of Battlespace News discusses a recent report by Britain’s National Audit Office regarding the UK’s keystone BOWMAN tactical radio/communications system, part of the overarching FALCON C4SI prgram. The system has suffered from a number of difficulties, many of which are the result of the radical changes in communications technology and needs since the program was conceived in the 1980s. The vast growth in bandwidth requirements due to UAVs et. al. transmitting video, the need for far greater capabilities without providing more money, the lack of robustness and modifiability in its closed architecture software systems, the effects of BOWMAN’s lack of definition on training and doctrine, and the effects of the program on the decimated British tactical radio industry are all discussed at Battlespace News.
As those who have followed DID’s coverage of the US JTRS program are aware, many of these challenges confront other militaries as well. While BOWMAN is derived from Canadian and Australian implementations and so represents much less near-term technical risk than JTRS, the most serious deficiency over time for BOWMAN may well be the difficulties involved in modifying it to meet future needs over the next 20-30 years. Battlespace notes, for instance, that the cost of upgrading the GD Command Systems software on Bowman is about $1,000 per line of code. As such, it could prove cost-prohibitive to keep it modernized over its entire service life in order to meet the demands it will face.