Bat­tle­field Man­age­ment Sys­tem for the In­dian Army — A Re­view

Suc­cess­ful ex­e­cu­tion of fast mov­ing op­er­a­tions, in the fu­ture, will re­quire an ac­cel­er­ated de­ci­sion-ac­tion cy­cle and an abil­ity to con­duct op­er­a­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously within an all arms group

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - LT GEN­ERAL P.C. KA­TOCH (RETD)

Suc­cess­ful ex­e­cu­tion of fast mov­ing op­er­a­tions, in the fu­ture, will re­quire an ac­cel­er­ated de­ci­sion-ac­tion cy­cle and an abil­ity to con­duct op­er­a­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously within an all arms group.

Lt Gen­eral P.C. Ka­toch (Retd)

ABATTLEFIELD MAN­AGE­MENT SYS­TEM (BMS) is vi­tal in mod­ern war­fare as it en­ables faster de­ci­sion by com­man­ders at all ech­e­lons, bet­ter de­ci­sion due to re­li­able op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in real time and abil­ity to quickly close the sen­sor to shooter loop. Sit­u­a­tional aware­ness ex­ist­ing in the In­dian Army is presently on ad hoc ba­sis whereas the re­quire­ment is of an in­te­grated net­work sys­tem. Fu­ture mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions will be com­bined and joint com­pris­ing of all arms and in­ter-ser­vice el­e­ments. These op­er­a­tions will re­quire units and sub-units of other arms to op­er­ate sub­or­di­nated or in co­op­er­a­tion with each other. Also, suc­cess­ful ex­e­cu­tion of fast mov­ing op­er­a­tions will re­quire an ac­cel­er­ated de­ci­sion-ac­tion cy­cle and an abil­ity to con­duct op­er­a­tions si­mul­ta­ne­ously within an all arms group. The key to suc­cess will lie in ef­fec­tive com­mand and con­trol across the force, there­fore, com­man­ders at all lev­els, more so at the cut­ting-edge level re­quire per­ti­nent in­for­ma­tion in or­der to en­hance their de­ci­sion mak­ing and com­mand ca­pa­bil­ity. Har­ness­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy here will act as a force mul­ti­plier to en­hance op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness of com­man­ders and troops at all lev­els by en­abling ex­change, fil­ter­ing and pro­cess­ing of ever in­creas­ing amounts of dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion presently avail­able but not in­te­grated. Most for­eign armies in­clud­ing those that were de­ployed in op­er­a­tions abroad have sit­u­a­tional aware­ness pack­ages with the es­sen­tial in­te­gra­tion tool of var­i­ous types — a Bat­tle­field Man­age­ment Sys­tem.

Project BMS

Project BMS was en­vis­aged by the In­dian Army to en­able a faster de­ci­sion process by com­man­ders at all ech­e­lons, en­able bet­ter de­ci­sion due to re­li­able op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in real time and have the abil­ity to quickly close the sen­sor to shooter loop by in­te­grat­ing all sur­veil­lance means to fa­cil­i­tate en­gage­ment through an au­to­mated de­ci­sion sup­port and com­mand and con­trol sys­tem, ex­ploit­ing tech­nol­ogy for mis­sion ac­com­plish­ment in the Tac­ti­cal Bat­tle Area (TBA) by rapid ac­qui­si­tion, pro­cess­ing and trans­fer of in­for­ma­tion, en­hanced sit­u­a­tional aware­ness, ca­pa­bil­ity to re­act to in­for­ma­tion, sharpen abil­ity to syn­chro­nise and di­rect fire, plus es­tab­lish and main­tain over­whelm­ing op­er­a­tional tempo. The sys­tem cus­tomised to the spe­cific army re­quire­ment, needs to be first in­te­grated and tested in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment for which a test-bed lab­o­ra­tory will need to be es­tab­lished. Af­ter test­ing in the lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions, val­i­da­tion tri­als of the sys­tem will be car­ried out in field con­di­tions.

Af­ter suc­cess­ful val­i­da­tion of the sys­tem in the field, the process for equip­ping will be­gin. The Army was late in con­ceiv­ing this sys­tem, in that, plan­ning for net­work­cen­tric war­fare (NCW) ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­low Bri­gade HQ level was not orig­i­nally thought of along with other Op­er­a­tional In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems. The BMS will com­prise a tac­ti­cal hand-held com­puter with in­di­vid­ual war-fighter and tac­ti­cal com­put­ers at Bat­tle Group HQ and com­bat ve­hi­cles en­abling gen­er­a­tion of com­mon op­er­a­tional pic­ture by in­te­grat­ing in­puts from all rel­e­vant sources by in­te­grated use of GIS and GPS with a high data rate. Phase I of Project BMS com­pris­ing test-bed lab­o­ra­tory and field tri­als at test-bed lo­ca­tion of one Com­bat Group and three In­fantry Bat­tal­ion Groups by 2012 has been in­or­di­nately de­layed, ini­tially three years lost due to in­de­ci­sion within the Army con­cern­ing de­lim­i­ta­tion be­tween the BMS and the Fu­ture In­fantry Sol­dier as a Sys­tem (F-INSAS) un­der de­vel- op­ment by the In­fantry and con­cur­rent fall­out in re-or­der­ing of the fea­si­bil­ity study. The In­fantry in­sisted in han­dling Phase 3 of F-INSAS (Com­puter and Ra­dio Sub-sys­tems plus Soft­ware In­te­gra­tion) by them­selves while DGIS was al­ready de­vel­op­ing the BMS in­clud­ing for In­fantry. The BMS de­sign caters for light­weight, er­gonomics and long-range com­mu­ni­ca­tion over por­ta­ble SATCOM (Team/Troop Leader level), and sen­sor in­te­gra­tion is in­te­gral to the project.

The BMS sought by the Army is to per­form a va­ri­ety of op­er­a­tional sit­u­a­tional aware­ness and de­ci­sion sup­port func­tions at a bat­tal­ion/com­bat group level. The low­est level to which the sys­tem will be con­nected is in­di­vid­ual sol­dier/com­bat plat­form and the high­est level will be the bat­tal­ion/reg­i­ment commander in­te­grat­ing to the Tac C3I Sys­tem through the CIDSS, en­abling a com­mon op­er­a­tional pic­ture, in­te­grat­ing all sources through in­te­grated use of GIS and GPS, will be a highly mo­bile and with high data rate. The com­mu­ni­ca­tions should not in­ter­fere with the legacy com­mu­ni­ca­tions; op­ti­mally utilise band­width avail­able in­volv­ing voice, data, im­ageries video stream­ing; scal­able en­sur­ing avail­abil­ity from be­ing man-por­ta­ble to be­ing fit­ted in com­bat ve­hi­cles. For a BMS to be suc­cess­ful there is a need for a re­li­able, ro­bust, re­silient and ef­fi­cient com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem that as­sures that the net­work is al­ways func­tional. Net-cen­tric­ity war­rants a par­a­digm shift from voice cen­tric to data cen­tric sys­tems and net­works even­tu­ally en­abling NCW ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

For BMS com­mu­ni­ca­tions the In­dian Army would be look­ing for long ranges, high band­width data trans­mis­sion (live stream­ing), fa­cil­i­tat­ing mes­sag­ing in­clud­ing voice mail, quickly de­ploy­able, self-con­fig­ur­ing and self-heal­ing net­works, easy to cus­tomise, rolling cov­er­age and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity. The fo­cus will have to be on change in net­work topol­ogy, non-line of sight com­mu­ni­ca­tions, spec­trum man­age­ment, net­work man­age­ment sys­tems, QoS (in­clud­ing la­tency, as­sured de­liv­ery, jit­ter), se­cu­rity of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, net­works and stor­age, ro­bust­ness and au­then­ti­ca­tion. Band­width re­quire­ments for the BMS need to be viewed keep­ing in mind the in­cre­men­tal re­quire­ments that would be re­quired pro­gres­sively over the years. A con­ser­va­tive ap­proach by the Army at this stage, which is likely due to the lim­i­ta­tions of legacy com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment, could limit ex­ploita­tion of fu­ture tech­nol­ogy.

Progress Over the Years

In end 2011, the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil (DAC) ap­proved the BMS as a ‘Make In­dia’ project, fol­low­ing which an In­te­grated Project Man­age­ment Study (IPMT) was com­pleted. The ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est (EoI) was pre­pared and the case for em­pan­el­ment of in­dus­try to re­ceive the EoI was pend­ing with the De­part­ment of De­fence Pro­duc­tion (DoDP) and was ex­pected to be is­sued to the in­dus­try by Au­gust-Septem­ber 2013. There­after, it was en­vis­aged to short­list two De­vel­op­ing Agen­cies (DA) by about March 2014. Sub­se­quently, de­sign phase was ex­pected to com­mence by July 2014, lim­ited pro­to­type tested in lab­o­ra­tory by end De­cem­ber 2015 and fi­nally, pro­to­types de­vel­oped and fielded for user eval­u­a­tion by De­cem­ber 2016 (in­stead of ear­lier sched­ule of 2012). By then the cas­cad­ing ef­fect by then had al­ready de­layed com­ple­tion of Phase 2 (Equip­ping) from ini­tial plan of 2017 to 2021 and Phase 3 (Change Man­age­ment and Upgra­da­tion of Sys­tem) from 2022 to 2026 as per then sta­tus. This

Project BMS was en­vis­aged by the In­dian Army to en­able a faster de­ci­sion process by com­man­ders at all ech­e­lons, en­able bet­ter de­ci­sions due to re­li­able op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion pro­vided in real time and have the abil­ity to quickly close the sen­sor to shooter loop by in­te­grat­ing all sur­veil­lance means

de­layed sched­ule too was con­sid­ered pos­si­ble only if there were no fur­ther hur­dles.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, the EoI for BMS was fi­nally is­sued to 14 do­mes­tic com­pa­nies. How­ever, only two con­sor­tiums, Tata Power SED-Larsen & Toubro, and Bharat Elec­tron­ics-Rolta In­dia, qual­i­fied the bids. In Fe­bru­ary 2016, the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) sig­nalled these two In­dian con­sor­tia, one led by Tata Power (Strate­gic En­gi­neer­ing Di­vi­sion) and the other led by Bharat Elec­tron­ics (BEL), to de­velop a BMS pro­to­type for the In­dian Army, which could even­tu­ally gen­er­ate about ₹ 40,000-50,000 crore worth of pro­cure­ment for the Army. As per me­dia re­ports, MoD in­formed BEL and Tata Power SED in writ­ing that the con­sor­tia they re­spec­tively lead had been se­lected out of four that had given pro­pos­als in re­sponse to the MoD’s ten­der. MoD has in­structed both con­sor­tia, one con­sist­ing of BEL and Rolta In­dia, and the other com­pris­ing of Tata Power SED and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), to reg­is­ter “spe­cial pur­pose com­pa­nies” for this project. Each of these de­vel­op­ment agen­cies will sep­a­rately de­velop a work­ing BMS.

Each BMS pro­to­type is to have four vari­ants: one, for the in­fantry bat­tal­ion group; two, for com­bat group (ar­mour); three, for com­bat group (mech­a­nised in­fantry); and, four, for Spe­cial Forces. Tech­nolo­gies to be in­cluded in each pro­to­type in­clude a ge­o­graph­i­cal in­for­ma­tion sys­tem, multi-sen­sor data fu­sion sys­tem, rugged com­put­ing de­vices, and a soft­ware de­fined ra­dio-based com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem for sol­diers. Un­der ‘Make in In­dia’, the gov­ern­ment funds 80 per cent of the pro­to­type de­vel­op­ment cost and the de­vel­op­ment agen­cies cover the rest. Pro­to­type de­vel­op­ment is es­ti­mated at about $300 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to an ex­ec­u­tive of a do­mes­tic com­pany par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­sor­tium. Me­dia quotes a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive from one of the con­sor­tia stat­ing, “The chal­lenge in de­vel­op­ing a BMS is not on the hard­ware. With In­dian ven­dors ca­pa­ble of man­u­fac­tur­ing the lat­est state-of-the-art elec­tron­ics, hard­ware will not be a chal­lenge, but the chal­lenge will be in de­ploy­ing such a sys­tem. Con­sid­er­ing the size of the In­dian Army, an ef­fi­cient com­mand-and­con­trol sys­tem is the heart of the sys­tem and the big­gest stum­bling block.”

The de­vel­op­ment agen­cies are free to choose over­seas part­ners for tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance but the even­tual ten­der will only be awarded to the do­mes­tic com­pa­nies un­der the ‘Make in In­dia’ cat­e­gory. The BMS pro­to­types will be de­vel­oped and tested in the next 40 months; a fi­nal or­der of 600 plus such sys­tems would then be placed for more than $5.8 bil­lion. Once fully de­vel­oped and proved, the BMS will be able to re­ceive and trans­mit data, voice and images from mul­ti­ple sources, in­clud­ing radar, cam­eras, laser range-find­ers and ground sen­sors, al­low­ing the sol­dier on the bat­tle­field ac­cess to real time in­for­ma­tion si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the com­man­ders up the chain. It will be a crit­i­cal el­e­ment of the Army’s NCW ca­pac­ity build­ing as part of the Tac C3I. A project like the BMS is a multi-dis­ci­plinary process. It is, there­fore, im­per­a­tive that crit­i­cal is­sues are ad­dressed at the in­cep­tion stage. For this, the test-bed must be in full, not trun­cated as has been the case in test­ing other op­er­a­tional in­for­ma­tion sys­tems be­cause of the void of the Tac­ti­cal Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Sys­tem (TCS). A full test-bed would en­sure that de­fi­cien­cies do not crop up later at the field­ing stage ne­ces­si­tat­ing up­grades.

Con­clu­sion

BMS for the In­dian Army is an es­sen­tial force mul­ti­plier that has been long over­due. It is good that this is be­ing de­vel­oped indigenously un­der ‘Make in In­dia’, like the TCS. The big­gest chal­lenge nat­u­rally will be de­ploy­ment on ground suit­ing ev­ery need of the In­dian Army in vary­ing ter­rain and en­vi­ron­ment con­di­tions. There­fore, de­vel­op­ing ap­pro­pri­ate sys­tem would de­mand a great amount of flex­i­bil­ity with­out com­pro­mis­ing on speed and se­cu­rity. The re­quire­ment no doubt will be colos­sal con­sid­er­ing it will be fielded pan-Army at the bat­tal­ion/reg­i­ment level, but sim­i­lar sys­tem will even­tu­ally be re­quired by the para­mil­i­tary forces (PMF) and even the Cen­tral Armed Po­lice Forces (CAPF) and state po­lice forces in­volved in anti-ter­ror­ist and coun­terin­sur­gency op­er­a­tions if we are to achieve na­tional net-cen­tric­ity to counter the in­creas­ing ir­reg­u­lar threats from ter­ror­ists, non-state ac­tors and state-spon­sored non­state ac­tors.

in­fantry in ac­tion dur­ing an ex­er­cise

ICV BMP-2K tanks

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