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MoD calls on security business sector and academia to shape future of military communications

by Brian Sims

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is looking to develop new approaches to land and littoral communications that will support military operations in future decades. The current Bowman communications system is nearing its out-of-service date. Technology (and the nature of military operations) has changed dramatically, so the MoD is keen to reflect these changes and meet the requirements of the British Army, the Royal Marines and the RAF Regiment.

Launched by the MoD, Project MORPHEUS will develop and consider options for what will eventually replace the current Bowman system. Those involved in areas such as telecommunications, wireless, IT, networks and security – as well as trainers in these disciplines – are invited to feed through their expertise and ideas on new technological approaches. Potential contributors may be working in the defence or commercial worlds.

Project MORPHEUS aims to establish options that make the very best use of current and emerging technologies, in turn resulting in a communications system that may subsequently be evolved and managed in a cost-effective way.

In essence, then, Project MORPHEUS provides a way for academics and businesses to inform the future of military communications, as well as presenting significant long-term business opportunities for innovators in this area.

Different ideas, potential options

The MORPHEUS Systems House is tasked with drawing together different ideas into potential options. Those with partial solutions and research are strongly encouraged to submit their ideas.

Options will be addressed by the MORPHEUS Systems House which is led by PA Consulting in parallel with QinetiQ, Roke Manor Research and CGI.

The range of options outlining which technologies and software are needed to pass information from Point A to Point B on a secure basis will be addressed alongside the most appropriate long-term business models (in terms of both acquisition and operation). The selection process will take into account security, speed of communication, range, ease of use and cost when it comes to deployment and the manpower levels required for operation.

These options also need to plan for the pace of change of operational demands and technical development. They must reflect a capability to securely integrate new technologies as they find their way to market, including commercial technologies.

Selected option(s) will form the basis for an MoD competition around the design of the new system.

New ideas, concepts and information

Rick Mather, project lead for MORPHEUS at QinetiQ, explained: “The key here is to examine all the potential options out there and identify the most operationally effective and cost-efficient solutions. We know there are lots of really exciting technology and security businesses out there as well as academics carrying out exactly the kind of research and innovation this project needs. We also know a lot of them think that this kind of contract always goes to the same old defence companies. That’s very definitely not the case here. We’re really open to innovative and even what might be considered unusual solutions to ensure that the final options are the best ones possible.”

Companies involved in the MORPHEUS Systems House industry engagement process will also be exposed to new ideas, concepts, people and information from a variety of different sectors by way of dedicated workshops, events and online collaboration. They will help shape the future market by feeding through ideas that will mean increments of the MORPHEUS Project are more likely to be designed with the capability of their future products in mind.

Beyond the initial design phase, Project MORPHEUS will be the main vehicle for the procurement of the UK Armed Forces’ tactical communications capability for the next three decades.

*Companies wishing to register an interest can do so via the MORPHEUS website. Interested parties can also remain up-to-date through the MORPHEUS Twitter feed and the MORPHEUS LinkedIn Group

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