Harris has told MONS that the BCIP 5.6 software release for the British Army’s BOWMAN tactical radio architecture has been finalised. The software release provides “software upgrades and fixes some bugs,” the company stated, and is expected to be rolled out across the fleet of the BOWMAN radio family, of which Harris provides all of the transceivers sans the BOWMAN Personal Role Radio. These radios will be upgraded as and when they return to the depot following operational deployment. Harris officials told MONS that the firm will continue to support and maintain the entire fleet of its radios which support BOWMAN although the firm cautions that these transceivers are ageing and will be progressively difficult to maintain, with the company currently working on an obsolescence management programme to ensure that the radios can remain in service for as long as possible.
Officials continued that “one of the major factors which could limit the remaining life of the BOWMAN radio family is the life of the its cryptography chip.” Put simply, the manufacturer of these chips can no longer produce any additional units. Although Harris has procured additional crypto chips, at some point in the future, this inventory will be expended. One option to extend the life of the radio vis-à-vis the crypto chip could be to retrofit the BOWMAN family with the same Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) technology expected to outfit the British Army’s Project MORPHEUS tactical radio architecture which is expected to replace the BOWMAN communications and battle management system by the mid-point of next decade. Unlike the cryptographic chip furnishing BOWMAN, the FPGA can be changed and tailored to customer needs, making it more agile as regards to responding to potential communications jamming/cyber threats in the future.