Following the trend demonstrated in the past few years, exhibitors’ emphasis is shifted from weapon systems to command, control, communications and sensors (C4I), focusing on current European systems, such as the General Dynamics UK BOWMAN, EADS’s Blue Force Tracking, and SIT from GIAT. Elbit Systems, with assistance from the Israel defense Forces Ground forces Command, provided a first glance into the operational TORC2H C4I system. Advanced solutions displayed here highlighted sensor processing, image processing and digital mapping solutions. These included two Israeli systems – RAFAEL’s Golden Bay, IAI’s RICNET. DSEi provided a stage for Pyramid, a subsidiary of the Sarnoff group to launch its new product range, designed for advanced image, video processing etc.
BOWMAN systems and derivatives dominated the exhibition not only at General Dynamics UK’s displays but on other areas, where it was installed in several combat vehicles, demonstrated in training systems, embedded in avionics and ships to support joint operations, and demonstrate various identification, maneuver control, planning and support applications. BOWMAN has been accepted as the centerpiece of the British Army’s land forces and Royal Marines’ tactical communications. The system provides secure voice and data communications infrastructure capable of supporting a range of network enabled C4I systems. Procured under a £1.7 billion communications modernization program, BOWMAN is replacing the obsolete Clansman radio communications system. Initial systems have already been deployed with the British contingent in Iraq. The program was expanded to include an information infrastructure operating on top of the communications systems, as part of the ComBAT, Infrastructure and Platform Battlefield Information System Application (BISA).
Other countries have expressed interest in the system. One of the m was the Royal Netherlands Navy which recently awarded a contract worth EUR94 million to General Dynamics UK for a New Integrated Marines Communications and Information System (NIMCIS), based on BOWMAN.) This is the first export contract for the BOWMAN C4I system. The systems are expected to be installed on tactical vehicles such as the BAE Systems Land Systems Hägglunds BvS 10 armored all-terrain tracked vehicles recently ordered for the forces.
Much interest was focused on the first Sentinel R.1 Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) aircraft, which made its first flight with the radar payload in the same week. Four additional aircraft are undergoing modifications for future installations. Sentinel will provide the RAF and British Army with deep ground surveillance and targeting capabilities all-weather synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and ground moving target detection (GMTI) capabilities. This flight marked the end the radar and platform integration phase, which suffered from considerable delays. System’s testing is moving ahead at Raytheon’s with both the air and ground segments, proceeding into flight tests by the first quarter of next year.
Other topics covered in this review: