News Flash: Bowman Crap!

#1
£1.9 bn portable radio system gets a poor reception from Army

By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent
(Filed: 04/01/2005)

The Army's new £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 £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."
http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/...4.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/01/04/ixportal.html
 
#2
Ho hum...once again...

1. ALL RADIOS WILL BURN IF SET HIGH ENOUGH!!!!!!

2. If it's a slow news day, dust off a load of BOWMAN nonsense from about 9 months ago.

Fair enough about the DPA though!

Slopes

PS Happy New Year all! :D
 

DPM

Old-Salt
#3
The_Sloping_Wire said:
Ho hum...once again...

1. ALL RADIOS WILL BURN IF SET HIGH ENOUGH!!!!!!

2. If it's a slow news day, dust off a load of BOWMAN nonsense from about 9 months ago.

Fair enough about the DPA though!

Slopes

PS Happy New Year all! :D
You wear it then :wink:

At least it'll stop 'em sleeping on stag...
 
#5
The_Sloping_Wire said:
DPM said:
You wear it then
Unfortunately, I know far more about it than virtually everyone else in the Armed Forces. Not proud of this, by the way.
So. What are the facts. If you were an Infantryman in combat would you be confident relying on Bowman?
 
#9
1. BOWMAN secure voice is distinctly better than Clansman.

2. The rest of the BOWMAN project (data, etc) needs a little more work.
 
#10
The_Sloping_Wire said:
In the event you know who Slopes is, he totally denies all knowledge of ever placing the contents of this post into his, or any other, daysack, or to have passed this information to any member of his staff for inclusion on this site.
Can you spell blackmail Slopes? 8)

:D
 
#11
2. If the press got hold of just how bad the situation with this project is, they would have a field day of such enormity, it would make the whole Eurofighter deal look like an impulse buy in the Xmas sales!

Now you've done it.... :twisted:
 
#13
Ah, looks like the MOD have once again employed a large group of egg headed boffins to come up with yet another piece of totally crap kit that a week 2 recruit in traing could have told them was sh*t. But that's what happens when you employ boffins with huge brains and no common sense. But the fact that they then spent 2.9 billion on the idear is criminal. FFS could they not have made a mock up and tried it in the field got the feed back then put it right before they started going in to production. MOD making cuts all over the place then spending that on crap!!!! outrageous!!! :evil:
 
#15
doctordeath said:
Ah, looks like the MOD have once again employed a large group of egg headed boffins to come up with yet another piece of totally crap kit that a week 2 recruit in traing could have told them was sh*t. But that's what happens when you employ boffins with huge brains and no common sense
Total b***ocks from someone with a massive chip on their shoulder regarding their intellect, and a lack of understanding about how things get designed and built.

You keep banging on about "egg-headed boffins coming up with kit" (at least twice now). Next thing, you'll be claiming that anyone with a brain is automatically disqualified from having "common sense". Sorry, wrong, it doesn't happen that way.

The kit gets designed by engineers, fairly practical people, to a set of requirements set out by the customer. Customer says "make it this strong", customer gets metal box, not plastic. Customer says "make it this waterproof", customer gets box with expensive seals. Customer says (and here's the killer) "make it last twenty years in service", customer watches price go through roof. Quick, cheap, or good - pick two, you won't get all three.

"Boffins" (you've probably got a 1950s image of blokes with NHS specs and white labcoats carrying clipboards) are few, far between, and left to do systems engineering for the most part. Billion-pound projects get organised (and screwed up) by besuited lawyer, accountant, and manager types for the most part.

Case in point - Scottish Parliament. Total screw-up. Down to an interfering customer who "just wanted a little change here and there to the plans", rapidly changing goalposts, your beloved "boffins", or to the poor b**tards who actually had to pull the plans together and execute them?
 
#16
Boffins being a "term" or phrase for those engineers!!!! who obviously spent all that time testing in the field and making the thing work and be squaddie proof. 1.9 billion!!!!!! that's not million thats Billion you arrse!!! For that price we could have got the star wars project working!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :evil:
 
#17
Lots of exclamation marks = a sure sign of a demented mind.

Thanks for coming - I won't bother to post anything else on this -Gravelbelly has summed up the situation perfectly. :D
 
#18
I was reliably informed many years ago that the REAL problem is the green paint they use. Face facts - millions of pounds is spent researching and building gucci kit, from land rovers to space rockets. As soon as you paint it green it stops working. case proved I think. :lol:
 
#19
Rgtl_Stick_Insect said:
I was reliably informed many years ago that the REAL problem is the green paint they use. Face facts - millions of pounds is spent researching and building gucci kit, from land rovers to space rockets. As soon as you paint it green it stops working. case proved I think. :lol:
Agreed, plus the DPA dont always take into account that if anyone manages to find a problem with ANY piece of equipment within 24hrs of it being issued - it will be a soldier.
 
#20
Why don't they just spend a million or so and buy a job lot of mobile phone cell kits, and bolt them to the back of some Landrovers? Get Orange or Vodafone to sort out the comms, and go to China to turn out 100,000 DPM Nokia plastic covers. If really necessary, download some shareware crypto off the Internet.

I'm actually (half) serious; why do we need digitisation /secure comms at all? Who are we going to fight who has any realistic EW? How would the Brocken have sorted out vital time-critical int from 50,000 squaddies "in theatre" texting their mates or phoning chatlines? Our Army would be transformed if it just had cheap working insecure comms. I can run an international business from a PDA, but on ops I couldn't send a contact report outside shouting distance of a main HQ.

.... o.k. and another Bowman/kit question I keep getting stonewalled every time I ask a very senior officer: if CDS & others have stated that one reason we do not need various resources is because "we will never go to war, other than as a junior partner to a US force", then why are we blowing billions on developing kit which (I'm told) is largely incompatible with US systems, and why don't we negotiate to buy US kit and take advantage of their huge economies of scale?!

O.k., I'll shut up now and take my medecine....
 

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