QinetiQ has announced it has been awarded a three year contract with options to extend for a further two years, worth up to £95 million to support the Ministry of Defence in delivering next generation battlefield tactical communications and information systems. 

QinetiQ will provide Private Sector Support to the Battlefield Tactical Communication and Information Systems (BATCIS) Delivery Team within Information Systems and Services which is part of Joint Forces Command.

“The contract is a critical enabler to BATCIS in its work delivering the next generation of Tactical Communication and Information Systems as part of a Single Information Environment for UK armed forces.”

QinetiQ say it will work collaboratively with its partners, Atos, BMT and Roke, to provide the BATCIS Delivery Team with a multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary team that will support the delivery of all their requirements flexibly and at pace.

“These tasks will include the provision of programme management, engineering, approvals, cost estimating, requirements and acceptance, integrated logistic support, trials, training, and safety.

As well as reflecting our extensive technical capabilities and approach to delivering real innovation for customers, the award is strategically important for QinetiQ as it demonstrates its increasing customer focus and more strategic approach to business winning.”

Commenting on the award, Steve Wadey, Chief Executive Officer of QinetiQ said:

“The BATCIS Delivery Team will ensure our armed forces have the most advanced communications and information systems available so that they can perform at their best. QinetiQ is well placed to support our customer’s programmes as we can effectively provide the wide range of expertise necessary to deliver real advantage.

The award, which is the largest competitive win since the implementation of our strategy for growth, is also a significant milestone for QinetiQ reflecting our increased customer focus, innovative approach to business winning, and greater collaboration with industry partners.”

14 COMMENTS

  1. The problem is that rapid pace of technology is now moving so fast that normal defence procurement process is no longer fit for purpose.

    Digital communication equipment is more about the software these days than the hardware.

    Difficult decisions will have to be made to equip our forces with the best equipment available.

  2. My phone doesn’t weigh a tonne, the battery lasts more than 8 hours and easily available end to end encrypted messaging apps don’t cost £95m every 5 years.

    What exactly does “…the provision of programme management, engineering, approvals, cost estimating, requirements and acceptance, integrated logistic support, trials, training, and safety” actually mean? It doesn’t sound like the purchase of anything.

    This money is enough for 1000 more soldiers. Why not just buy what the US have straight off the shelf?

    • It would be the simplest thing to do for the Army just buy what the US are fielding but for some reason they don’t do it. There will be some subtle mysterious reason beyond the ken of mere civilians. Funny thing is in the naval sphere you suggest the UK should field a capability, say an anti-ship missiles on all escorts, then the naval professionals will say, ‘We don’t know that because America.’ And then we will buy two aircraft carriers……

      I think it is all to do with money. Our money filling the coffers of big business.

      I have stopped trying to understand it all. 🙂

    • I agree I can’t see anything tangible being delivered anywhere in the description of this contract. It just looks like an R&D contract with nothing specifically indentified as a deliverable.

    • Your mobile works on having a series of mobile towers every few miles and can be very easily tracked. Neither of these is an option for military hardware. You can’t compare the costs. Military comms will need to work anywhere in the world, under any weather conditions and at very long distances and most importantly be hard to track.

      As for the off the shelf solution, i really don’t get why for some hardware we buy off the shelf or at least join bigger buys (e.g f35, etc) and others we go custom, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of logic behind it.

    • There are a lot of potential services there. Stuff like emissions testing, making sure it can’t be tracked, environmental testing, accelerated full-life testing (environmental chambers) etc. All that stuff requires specialist equipment and costs money. I remember selling a huge order to the RAF in the 1980s and it had to be submitted for Tempest testing, shock testing etc. Someone has to do that. Suppliers often don’t have their own specialist in-house capabilities so outsource that testing to various labs during the design phase, I did that myself in some of my own product design. If those are the sort of services that they are talking about for “acceptance”, “trials” and “safety” then it is right that the MoD should be doing its own separate acceptance tests that require equipment and facilities that would almost certainly be inappropriately expensive to build themselves due to the infrequent use that they would get and so are appropriate for outsourcing.

      I make no comments on whether logistics, programme management and some of the other stuff fall into the appropriately-outsourced category because I don’t have a view on that.

  3. Our (Green) Army uses the Bowman radio system. This is an encrypted system that can use HF, VHF and UHF radio bands. It has the capability to send and receive data and can be networked together. However, it has a limited bandwidth with which it can handle large chunks of data. It uses both frequency hopping and burst transmissions to make it more difficult to detect.

    The replacement radio system is an evolution of Bowman called Morpheus and is part of the BATCIS program. This will give it a much larger bandwidth to cope with the larger amounts of data produced by systems such as Ajax and Watchkeeper. Bowman is a multinational system with General Dynamics UK as the project lead, there are many UK companies involved in producing and supporting the system. Bowman is currently fitted to land vehicles, ships and aircraft beside being used in the field as the troop radio. It is versatile, rugged, relatively easy to use and reliable, which is probably the most important aspect.

    The Morpheus will build on the very high level encryption that Bowman uses. With technological advances the system will be repackaged into a smaller footprint and probably include Satcom integration for Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) comms. The Personal Role Radio (PRR) will also be fully integrated with the system. By increasing the level of data that the network can handle this will increase not only the commanders, but also the troops situational awareness. Morpheus will integrate both friendly force tracking but also video streaming (probably not quite 4G/1080HD standard) to allow for easier target recognition.

    Qinetiq will be involved in validating the BATCIS program to ensure that it is fully integrated within the three services. They will also be testing to ensure what the manufacturer claims of the system can actually be proven and trying to identify any weaknesses.

    GCHQ have released an interesting report on Huawai phones. Not only are they a blatant rip off of Apple Tech, but also have a back door which bypasses the users pin code and could activate the camera/microphone etc. I suppose as most phones are now made in China, that they all have a back door built into them!

    Russia have shown in Ukraine how easy it is to not only track a mobile phone, but use it for surveillance and targeting purposes. By triangulating its “I am here” signal request they have manged to use it for targeting artillery.

    • The whole Huawai thing is a bit of a storm in a tea cup. Snowden showed that the US/UK governments had backdoors pretty much everywhere to spy on people. The assumption seems to be that if its the UK/US spying its ok, China its bad.

      There were strong rumours that the US had put a huge back door into the whole AT&T network, which was the backbone for all landline telephone networks globally at one point.

      Ok with military kit, you would prefer the US to have the backdoor than China, but if one exists, you can guarantee that the other side would have found it and can exploit it, so better for there not to be one there in the first place.

      • The difference is the US and UK didn’t violate patent or copyright laws for the purposes of financial gain. Translation the NSA didn’t expropriate property without due compensation.
        Also by the way China doing it or any country doing it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. Spies spy it is what they are paid to do. Your moral equivalency of two countries governed by elected officials vs one that is a one party dictatorship capable of having you executed without trial, is more than a little odd.

        • Not really odd.

          China has no way to extradite me or anyone else in the UK, whilst the US can do it without needing to go through the UK courts, something that the US has never signed up for the reverse even though this was the agreement. I personally have nothing to hide, but the idea that the US government is spying on us scares me, since if I accidentally do something that triggers some alarm bells somewhere, I could end up in a US jail or just vanish. Same with the UK government, we get someone slightly more extreme and it really scares me. Remember the whole reds under the beds situation that happened in the leader of the free world.

          As for patents, again not so simple. The US has a history of going after foreign companies, but protecting it’s own when they do the same thing, which is just as bad. The UK government was also caught multiple times spying on trade delegations to steal ideas, this is what the spies are paid for, protect the interests of their country, whether morally right or not.

          Don’t get me wrong, the Chinese government is not one I would like to live under, but let’s not pretend things are black and white, good vs evil. the world just doesn’t work like that.

          • it’s a scary thought actually. Can you imagine if the reds under the beds thing happened again, in an era where the government has access to all your social media, web browsing, emails etc. At the time people were dragged off for just looking at certain books in libraries. Bring forward to 2018 and you can bet that the majority of the country has looked at some website they shouldn’t at some point in time or said something stupid by way of a joke.

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