Not sure whether to laugh or cry. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/01/04/narmy04.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/01/04/ixportal.html The Army's new Â£1.9 billion communications system is facing such serious problems that the Director of Infantry initially refused to accept the portable radio into service. Brig Jamie Balfour was ordered to take the radio "for political reasons" despite a series of issues that make it "totally unsuitable" for use in front-line infantry operations. Troops complain that Bowman is not strong enough for combat use Brig Balfour told a recent briefing at the School of Infantry: "All the rumours you've heard. It is as bad as you've heard. "But we have been told that, politically, we have got to make it work. Now you guys will have to go out and find a way of making it work." He concluded the briefing by warning: "Hang on to your cellphones." The Royal Anglians, who were given the radio to test in July, found that on some settings the signallers were receiving radiation burns when they tried to transmit. The MoD subsequently claimed that the problem had been overcome. But this was achieved simply by not using the affected settings, cutting down the usefulness of the radio. The problems are now far more extensive, defence sources said. The radio, which weighs 15lbs, is three times as heavy as its predecessor. Troops complain that it is not strong enough or flexible enough for use in front-line combat. The call sign has to be "squirted" into it with a special programme key. Once that is done that particular radio set is tied to that call sign. This allows for absolutely no flexibility in a battlefield situation where radios might have to be moved between call signs as they are lost or destroyed. The signaller has a complicated web of wiring which runs up from the radio pouch through his webbing via the chest control pad up to his head set. "If a guy has this on his body and he goes down, you can't just take the radio off him," a source said. "You have to disentangle the wiring, which breaks very easily, from his webbing." The section radio was originally supposed to be accompanied by a keypad and data terminal/screen that the section commander would wear on his arm, as you would a watch. But the keypad and data terminal weigh 2 kg, which made them far too heavy to wear. They have now been ditched. The batteries are more limited in life than the Clansman radio that Bowman replaces. Clansman used AA batteries, which could be obtained easily. Bowman uses unique batteries, which are not robust and are not readily available. General Dynamics won the Â£1.9 billion contract to produce the Bowman system to replace the Clansman radios. Lord Bach, the procurement minister, announced last March that Bowman had been brought into service. The MoD said: "The technology within the Bowman system is both complex and cutting edge, and consequently there have been set backs. The trialling process, as you would expect, has identified issues which everyone is committed to overcome." Defense procurement at its finest.