February 20, 2012

ITT Exelis' updated JTRS Bowman Waveform supports Battlefield Interoperability between U.K. and U.S. soldiers

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, ITT Exelis delivered an updated Joint Tactical Radio System Bowman Waveform (JBW) to the JTRS Information Repository as part of a $4.2 million delivery order that also included Soldier Radio – Multifunctional (SR-M) software-defined radios. The SR-M radios delivered to the JTRS Program Executive Office in this sale will be transferred to the U.K. government for upcoming assessment and trials for the JBW.

The JBW allows U.S. Forces to communicate directly and securely with U.K. allies using the Bowman VHF waveform on the battlefield.  JBW functionality enables users from both countries to work as a cohesive team during combat operations, sharing situational awareness information more efficiently and effectively, rather than using separate channels to pass information back and forth.

The JTRS Bowman VHF waveform software application was developed by ITT under contract to the JTRS Network Enterprise Domain. It is to enable operators of U.S. JTRS radios to participate directly in the U.K.’s Bowman network. With such waveform, U.S. and U.K. forces are able to communicate and share data, despite their different radio systems.


This radio-agnostic approach toward waveform development under the JTRS business model provides our government customer greater value and increased competition for radios,” said Ken Peterman, president of the Exelis Communications and Force Protection Systems business area. “At the same time, it also provides greater capability to U.S. and U.K. military forces through interoperability on the battlefield.

The Context

Back in 2002, representatives from the U.S. Defense Department and the U.K. Ministry of Defense signed an agreement to enhance battlefield interoperability via the U.K. Bowman communications system. Soon after, the JTRS program office awarded a contract to ITT to develop a Joint Tactical Radio System Bowman waveform, i.e. a software application that would allow JTRS users to add the U.K. radio system into the U.S. network. Since that date, U.K and U.S. are keep on working together to create a network in which U.S., U.K. and coalition units will be able to share information and situational awareness as if they were the flanking formations of the same nation.

Bowman is a tactical communications system integrating digital voice and data technology to provide secure radio, telephone, intercom and tactical internet services in a modular and fully integrated system. The programme includes the conversion of over 18,000 platforms. Specifically, as well as being man-portable, Bowman equipment fits into most UK military vehicles from Land Rover Wolf to the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, as weel as fixed HQ buildings, naval vessels, aircrafts (including the major helicopter types supporting land operations, i.e. Chinook and Merlin).

Bowman provides key improvements to capability in what has been dubbed the “three-legged stool” of voice communications, data services and situational awareness.

Bowman Command and Control provides an Automatic Position Location, Navigation and Reporting system (APLNR) which gives Situational Awareness to units throughout the digitised structure. The friendly forces picture can be configured to update unit and vehicle positions automatically. The tactical picture is shown on map displays on a variety of purpose-built data terminals – handheld, portable, vehicle or desk mounted. Key armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) are fitted with specialised equipments tailored to each vehicle type to facilitate use of the APLNR capability in the specific environment of an AFV. Bowman's Common Battlefield Applications Toolset (ComBAT) provides the main C2 interfaces for users of the Bowman system. This provides mechanisms for messaging, reports and returns. Battle Management capabilities include support for planning functions.

Bowman provides high levels of security based on the UK Pritchel crypto system together with its appliqué crypto and NATO Standard Operating Modes to allow interoperability with NATO allies. The Bowman Key Variable Management System (BKVMS) provides generation and distribution of cryptographic key material.

Bowman's IP-based tactical Internet provides connectivity through the local area system (LAS), the ITT's High Capacity Data Radio (HCDR) and Combat Net Radio (CNR) nets. Resilience is provided by the self-healing ability of IP. A new design of Bowman's gateway equipment also provides voice and data interfaces to existing wide area networking assets such as ptarmigan, SATCOM systems and the public and military telephone networks.
The Bowman Supply and Support contract was awarded to General Dynamics United Kingdom. A review of the program was undertaken in late 2004 and this provided the opportunity to better ensure that it would deliver a capability consistent with the UK MoD’s vision of achieving Network Enabled Capability. Bowman willoing to meet the tactical communications needs of those elements of the three UK Armed Services that take part in, or provide direct support to, UK land, amphibious and air manoeuvre operations until at least 2026. It is expected to provide a secure digital voice and data communications service, including situational awareness capability.

Since initial deployment of 12 Mechanized Brigade to Iraq in April 2005, Bowman has been employed on Operations TELIC and HERRICK. Other brigades have been converted and continued operational experience indicates that Bowman is delivering a battle winning capability.

References: ITT Exelis  (1), UK MoD (2), General Dynamics (3), National Defense (4), SIGNAL (5), Aviation Week (6)

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