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BMS: a silent story of a decade old project

Since, his appointment as a PM, Modiji has emphasised on his “Make In India” reform. However, our defence ministry was working on a “Make In India” project in their on genre since as early as 2003.

I am talking about Battle Management System(aka BMS).

BMS

As Lt. Katoch says – “Project Battlefield Management System (BMS) was envisaged by the Indian Army to enable a faster decision process by commanders at all echelons. It was meant to 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.”

A BMS facilitates engagement through an automated decision support and command and control system. It hence exploits technology for mission accomplishment in the Tactical Battle Area (TBA) by rapid acquisition, processing and transferring of information. It attributes

  • enhanced situational awareness,
  • capability to react to information,
  • sharpen ability to synchronize and direct fire,
  • plus establishment and maintenance of overwhelming operational tempo.

OODA

There is a very famous decision cycle call The OODA loop aka Boyd Cycle. OODA literally stand for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act.

Engagements are usually won by the force that “closes the OODA loop” quickest.

Benefits?

With the help of Battlefield Management System, commanders of any Arm or Service at various hierarchical levels can benefit from real time accurate information, enabling them to make the right decisions at the right time. Situational understanding of the battlefield is vital for any mission and for survivability. As such the system needs to be well integrated with the force’s resources so that it brings them:

  • To the right place
  • At the right time
  • With the right lethality

Why was it so important?

Keeping up with the world, Pakistan is working on its own BMS. Pakistan’s BMS efforts currently focus on the PAK-IBMS being developed by Global Industrial and Defence Solutions (GIDS) based in Rawalpindi.

According to a statement – “this BMS has been in development since 2004 and the first units have already been delivered to the army’s armored units for training purposes. Armored platforms which have received the Pak-IBMS so far include the army’s Norinco/Heavy Industries Taxila Al-Kahlid and Al-Zarrar Main Battle Tanks. Services provided by the BMS include blue force tracking, mission planning and combat messaging.”

The statement continues that in 2013  –  “PAKIBMS was deployed at the School of Armour and Mechanised Warfare in Nowshera, northern Pakistan for the training of army officers and men of the Pakistan Armored Corps.”

How we did it in India?

However, in India, BMS approach paper floated in early 2000s envisaged development, trials and GS evaluation in period 2008-2009, followed by its fielding into the Army during 2013-2017. But the MoD-Army red-tape and DRDO intervention to grab every project took over. Only by the end of 2011, Defence Acquisition Council approved the BMS as a ‘Make in India’ project, followed by Integrated Project Management Study, Expression of Interest (EoI) prepared with industry empanelment pending with MoD, latter expected to be issued to the industry by August-September 2013.

As per media – “the sanctioned cost of Project BMS in 2007 was 350 crore per development agency, but presently MoD is still bargaining for the agencies to slash development costs from the quoted 2,500 crore.”

There are speculations that – “Army is finding it difficult to balance between its immediate weapon requirements and force multipliers like the BMS in run up to Defence Budget 2018.”

The major factor is the commercials since at today’s prices, the BMS for the entire Army to be fielded by 2025, is to cost upwards of 50,000 cr.

Hence, on 27th of July the Army army officially shut down this project that was aimed at transforming India into a 21st century force. It was a major attempt in leveraging digital communications and information technology (IT) to swiftly detect, identify and destroy its foes. BMS was just first step in the three-phase growth initially planned, however this whole issue that silently passed by under the news of heavy rains and politics just reminds us of our current situation.

There is so much in this subject to write from the basics to the approval cycles, from initial framework discussions to prototype creations and much more. So I will better end this article here itself.

About Utkarsh Kaushik

Take an avid reader, implement the concepts of programming and git init the repository of software engineering. Merge the branches of application development, data science and data modelling to the master. Now push the commits related to product management and project architecture. Pour some love for comics. Finally sprinkle the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial snippets with some ambitions and attitude. Bake for 20 minutes. Then take another 15 minutes to prepare some espresso with enough steamed milk and milk foam. The resultant delicious and extravagant cake along with superb latte is what you would know as Utkarsh Kaushik! Read more about me @ utkarsh-kaushik.com

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