So Bowman still doesn't work then

#1
From the Guardian:

Army's new radio poorly received

Richard Norton-Taylor
Wednesday February 16, 2005
The Guardian

The army is to get a secure radio system for use in the battlefield, 10 years late.
British soldiers who have been forced to use antiquated paper codes - and even rely on their own mobiles - will be able to use the long-awaited Bowman radio network, developed at a cost of more than £2bn.

But, to the embarrassment of Ministry of Defence officials and anger within the army, the system still has problems.

The army's 12 Mechanised Brigade will be equipped with Bowman when it is deployed to southern Iraq next month, senior defence officials said yesterday.

But it still cannot be fitted to the army's main Challenger 2 battletanks or Warrior armoured fighting vehicles because a problem with the tanks' intercom system leaves crews unable to hear properly over their headsets.

The weight of the new radios also led to Land Rovers breaking axles during trials.

Oh well, another army equipment success!
 
#2
CrapSpy said:
The weight of the new radios also led to Land Rovers breaking axles during trials.
When did this come to light :?: Useful tool to keep the REME and suppliers employed.

Sorry, cannot stop laughing. We might as well go back to '19set'
 
#3
CrapSpy said:
he army is to get a secure radio system for use in the battlefield, 10 years late. Not quite true - the original Archer project was a different procurement programme.

British soldiers who have been forced to use antiquated paper codes - and even rely on their own mobiles - will be able to use the long-awaited Bowman radio network, developed at a cost of more than £2bn. True.

But, to the embarrassment of Ministry of Defence officials and anger within the army, the system still has problems. True - but we have achieved more in 2 years than the US project did in 10 years.

The army's 12 Mechanised Brigade will be equipped with Bowman when it is deployed to southern Iraq next month, senior defence officials said yesterday. Good move - Clansman really is bonk.

But it still cannot be fitted to the army's main Challenger 2 battletanks or Warrior armoured fighting vehicles because a problem with the tanks' intercom system leaves crews unable to hear properly over their headsets. Rubbish - it works, but BAe and GD are involved in a huge pi$$ing contest over signing the safety cases off - not the MoDs fault.

The weight of the new radios also led to Land Rovers breaking axles during trials. Old news - wasn't this widely reported 18 months ago? Still pretty naff, mind...

Oh well, another army equipment success! Have faith - look at the improvements resulting in delivery of SA80A2; the development and delivery of Wolf; etc etc - more good than bad these days - smart procurement does work - we just have a few legacy projects still dawdling through the pipeline!
And to reiterate in case of confusion:

1. Clansman is utterly hopeless - Bowman radio is very very good.
2. The possibilities offered by secure digital email across the battlespace are endless - there's just some ground to cover with data yet.
3. If it weren't 'good to go', do you really believe our highly politicised Lords and Masters (who all want to be 3 and 4 stars) would have allowed it to deploy to Iraq.

Hang on - ignore (3) :D
 
#4
Calypso,

Agree.
Agree.
I suppose so.
Agree.
No it doesn't; and yes they are, but for good reasons.
True, but hasn't gone away.
Fair enough.
 
#5
Calypso said:
1. Clansman is utterly hopeless - Bowman radio is very very good.
Calypso,
Aside from the fact that it's secure and has digital circuitry how is Bowman radio very very good versus Clansman hopeless, given that radio uses the ether.
Do you mean the Bowman system (ie, the way it all slots together from man pack to HQ level) is very very good versus Clansman family? (you'd hardly call Clansman a system)

Taking the example of the Redcap incident. Great play was made in the tv story of them having to set up their mast to contact base.
How would Bowman have helped them over Clansman? Is it multi-band such that if they're out of u/vhf range it moves to either hf or picks a satellite channel? Or would they still have to set up a mast etc?

I'm not trying to trip you up I'm just interested in knowing what all my taxes have been spent on. (and I'm a PRC320 fan, not to mention the C11/R210 - oh God, I wish I hadn't mentioned that. My ears have gone all sweaty) :) :)

Perhaps, you know a site where I could get some real facts about Bowman versus the PR and management overview bullsh1t stuff from MoD and the supplier.
 
#6
hup-two-three said:
Perhaps, you know a site where I could get some real facts about Bowman versus the PR and management overview bullsh1t stuff from MoD and the supplier.
I know what you mean, recently got hold of a CLANSMAN/BOWMAN cd plenty of useful info/presentations but still not much wiser over Bowman. Too much salesspeak crap.

Ref RedCap incident - They would have had to erect a mast/antenna to get voice comms in even with Bowman.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#7
polar said:
I know what you mean, recently got hold of a CLANSMAN/BOWMAN cd plenty of useful info/presentations but still not much wiser over Bowman. Too much salesspeak crap.

Ref RedCap incident - They would have had to erect a mast/antenna to get voice comms in even with Bowman.
Quite, well said Polar. Some people ought to revise their A+P lessons! I spent 2 days on trying to engineer a VHF link into that place - very difficult due to many reasons that I won't go into now.
 
F

fozzy

Guest
#8
Calypso said:
And to reiterate in case of confusion:

1. Clansman is utterly hopeless - Bowman radio is very very good.
2. The possibilities offered by secure digital email across the battlespace are endless - there's just some ground to cover with data yet.
3. If it weren't 'good to go', do you really believe our highly politicised Lords and Masters (who all want to be 3 and 4 stars) would have allowed it to deploy to Iraq.

Hang on - ignore (3) :D
Nicely put Calypso. There is much bollocks spouted about Bowman by them in ignorance and mischief makers. And the gentlemen of the Fourth estate fall into both those categories.
 
#9
Mmmmmm. 320. mmmmmm.
Horizontal wire held off the deck with bergans giving round the clock comms accross the atlantic with no mast! Masts? I dont need masts. Having said that it's been a while since i used VHF and I was always messing with masts then! OK it may not be secure in its standard form but clansman does exactly what it says on the tin. You know exactly where you stand with it and what we can expect it to do or not to do. This has come from many years of operational experience with the kit. I'm sure that bowman will be thought of in the same way in a few years time however, I would like some real facts on the kit i.e. unedited results on field trials etc. etc. Does anyone know where I could lay my hands on these??
 
#10
Having been involved with Bowman one of the problems with the LR installation is that instead of a nice mounting board that we are all used to there is a solid steel frame made in USA which fills the vehicle. It has to be fitted using a fork lift!!, combined with that on the r/h/r is another frame which although not all users will have the kit to go on it (lap top and printer) it has to remain in situ. Units that have taken it out have received hefty bills for fitters to reinstall it.

While the sets are small the frame is not and is heavy hence the upgrade. What is coming into service now is different to the orginal sets due to several consortium changes. Ten years late is not good enough, the features on Bowman have been readily available for many years from UK manufacturers, and similar systems are in use by our allies.

Clansman WAS good for its time and far better than Larkspur but the press have gone over the top in their criticism of it.and have made it seem worse than it is
 
#11
So you worked on BOWMAN, did you...?

The you would know that it was the MoD who wanted the frame to be built to these specs for strength, etc.

It is made in the UK not the US.

And yes it is fitted with a forklift, as the main rack is populated outside the vehicle with the rlevant BOWMAN fit, this makes the installation process smoother and easier.
 
#12
Yes I did work for GD at Ashchurch and some of the frames were made in US. By being populated I assume you mean the radios etc fitted first then the frame inserted, not every one liked using that method as once it is in you still have to remove individual items for repair although fitting forst I agree is best, horses for courses really. You have to agree that the frame is vastly overengineered. Although it was MoD who wanted a strong frame built GD had it built and the issue one is the result. and that is what we are stuck with, it is one of them ost complained items on feedback.

On a lighter note some ae that had been on order arrived, had to be seen to be believed same part number as veh but these were for RN on warship vwery impressive!! but think poor old LR would have finally given up then.

I was not really knocking Bowman just the excessive length of time to introduce it, I can recall handling it at RAC sigs school on a RSO confrence about 7 years ago.
 
#13
I love it when the 'Bowman is too heavy for Land Rovers' fact is touted as a good reason for binning it.

It seems that people seem to have forgotten that Clansman was also too heavy for Land Rover. Ho hum...
 
#14
fatcakes said:
I'm sure that bowman will be thought of in the same way in a few years time however, I would like some real facts on the kit i.e. unedited results on field trials etc. etc. Does anyone know where I could lay my hands on these??
With regards to your first point, I'm absolutely certain that in 5 years time, we will look back on this project and wonder what all the fuss and nonsense was all about.

As to providing commercially sensitive material to you to mull over, I'm not convinced that anything short of an armed break-in at Oakdale will provide what you need, given that GD(UK) are hardly the most accommodating company ever seen. That said, most of the posts you see on ARRSE from those in the know are factually accurate - if they aren't, then people like me, Eye_Spy et al will call them on it.
 
#15
Just wondering: I guess Bowman includes HF comms...... will frequency agility affect operational ranges and deployment practicability ?
I mean ground and NVIS propo can be tempermental enough, both modes being frequency dependent in terms of efficiency.
Will performance remain unchanged, given the added squeeze on the radio-antenna-tuner combo with Bowman ?
 
#17
Hmm interesting comments,

Having just started my BOWMAN Conversion, Adv Sigs (Sys) my greatest fear is that some soldiers, especially our younger ones and maybe even some of our old and Bold may find the whole conversion process slightly difficult to either sink in or adapt to.

Regardless of what is said Clansmen, was in service for too long, and it was only kept going by the multitude of workarounds you could do to get the damn thing to work right i.e communicate.

The Bowman system will replace Clansmen, maybe now we should all be more focused on how we are actually going to help soldiers under our command keep those skills in place rather than waffling over where frames are made.
 
#18
I agree that Bowman must be an improvement but its that "waffling" that can lead to more serious problems later on that if are not addressed now can become nightmares later..

"this truck pulls to the left all the time when i use the brakes"
Reynold Boughtons!

"Rifle fires one or two more rounds and stops again"
SA80 A1!

Any Army asset tracking system!
 
#19
"Regardless of what is said Clansmen, was in service for too long, and it was only kept going by the multitude of workarounds you could do to get the damn thing to work right i.e communicate."

I just hope that the guys who will be using the new radios can read through the hype and understand throughly the folowing points :

1) Bowman, or any other digital/hopping sytem WILL NOT imrove working radio range. The only exception to this rule might be in the case of ECM, where the enemy can counter with high power jamming signals. In this case, if the "friendly" operator is denied portions of the frequency spectrum, his signal might still get through.

2) This tactical ( and not necessarily strategic) advantage comes at a high price: Literal and operational. Costs are high, so less radios will be fielded for funds available; Plus Design complexity will increase MTBF ( failture rate) and potentially decrease working medium to long working ranges.

I have little doubt that the security afforded by Bowman will be a tremendous advantage in the case of short working ranges, i.e. platoon and squad level ( VHF and above).
I just hope that users of Bowman understand that the failture "to get the damn thing work right i.e. communicate", has more to do with badly maintained radios and operational shortcommings.

Oh and lest the added security aspect is taken for granted..... This is only valid untill the enemy can listen in or bring in enough eccm power to the field.
Lets not talk about PRR radio security.
 
#20
Dear God! I spend ALL day fending off emails asking me about sheer crap I've already dealt with 3 weeks ago!

Does secure digtial mail mean the next time I deploy with BOWMAN regular unit on a tour I'm going to have the same fun and games with balls sent by bored staff officers?

Every time Comms gets better micromanagement creeps downwards.
 

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