The government has allocated £175m for investment in military communications across the Army, Royal Navy and RAF.
The majority of the investment has been awarded to the UK’s primary military contractor, General Dynamics UK, and will be used to provide communications hardware and software from 2018.
Some £75m will be used to provide 12,000 data terminals for military headquarters and wearables for use on ships, aircraft carriers and other military vehicles.
Around £23m will be used to fund software upgrades for the Bowman tactical communications equipment used when carrying out operations. This is to ensure that the system will last for another 10 years.
Brigadier Richard Spencer, head of the MoD’s battlefield and tactical communications and information system delivery team, explained that the investment will give the military the best possible tactical communications equipment for the foreseeable future.
“This contract will replace the data terminals and update software across the Bowman system to ensure ease of use, more rapid and robust data services and improved interoperability,” he said.
The government is generally looking to shift spending on technology away from single suppliers, but the agreement with General Dynamics UK indicates that exceptions can be made when dealing with specialised equipment.
Another example is the MoD bypassing the government's IT spending limit in a £1.5bn deal with the Atlas consortium.
It could be argued that the MoD is not part of the public sector, where technology innovation is rife, given the secrecy and rigorous requirements of the military when it comes to technology.
However, the MoD is fairly active in looking at ways to embrace digital transformation, as seen with the introduction of defence-as-a-platform created with Microsoft to accelerate the delivery of new digital systems.
The MoD has also run a deep web hacking event designed to develop new technologies that could boost the UK’s national security.
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