BOWMAN Contracts

With the Army now starting to think about a BOWMAN replacement or evolution of it, time to look at the cost and ask whether it was value for money.

BOWMAN Radio
BOWMAN Radio

An FOI request published by the MoD this week provides some insight.

Please could you provide a list of all contracts to-date that the government has placed with private companies relating to the BOWMAN Communication System. Please could you provide the contract number & title, start & end data of contract, the contract recipient and its value. If you have any notes about details of the services rendered, I would greatly appreciate them, however this is not essential to the fulfillment of my request

And here they are

Supplier Contract Title Start Date End Date Contract  Value 
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED JNIB – Full Implementation NOT BATCIS FUNDED 01-Oct-05 31-Mar-10 15,200,000
QINETIQ LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS DT 31-Oct-05 31-Mar-06 80,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY PROJECT SUPPORT TO TNG 13-Jun-07 31-Mar-08 50,000
BOZEAT INDUSTRIAL LIMITED Upgrade of Simple Fit TUM into TINY TUM 05-Jun-07 31-Mar-08 500,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED PROVISION OF TECHNICAL INFORMATION FROM GDUK TO STAKEHOLDER  DTs 14-Jan-08 14-Jan-13 1
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED JOINT SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BODY (JSIB) 01-Apr-08 30-Mar-14 23,000,000
C2 DIEPPE LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS DT 20-May-08 31-Mar-12 250,000
SYSTEMATIC SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LTD MIP CONSULTANCY 15-May-08 30-Jun-09 800,000
NEXOR LIMITED NEXOR 23-May-08 12-Jun-08 110,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED PROVISION OF BCIP TECHNICAL ASSURANCE SERVICES FOR 01/04/2009  TO 31/03/2011 01-Apr-09 31-Mar-11 2,000,000
FUJITSU SERVICES LIMITED SME SUPPORT FOR INTEGRATION OF BCIP INTO OVERTASK 01-Jan-11 31-Mar-12 90,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY PROVISION OF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR TO BATCIS 2010-2011 04-May-10 31-Mar-11 140,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY DSTL SUPPORT TO BCIP/OVERTASK PROJECT 06-Sep-10 05-Nov-10 30,000
INTELLECT ENTERPRISES LIMITED PROVISION OF SUPPORT TO BATCIS TRANSFORMATION INDUSTRY DAY 18-Aug-11 30-Apr-13 40,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY PROVISION OF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR TO BATCIS 2011-2012 01-Apr-11 31-Mar-12 150,000
TRUSTMARQUE SOLUTIONS LIMITED PROVISION OF MICROSOFT OFFICE 2010 LICENCES 01-Aug-11 30-Sep-11 10,000
SYSTEMS CONSULTANTS SERVICES LIMITED PROVISION OF A BAMIP SME 06-Sep-11 30-Jun-12 80,000
QINETIQ LIMITED UOR AO1558B TECHNICAL SUPPORT 06-Dec-11 30-Jun-13 370,000
EXELIS DEFENCE LIMITED POCIS TO PORT WAVEFORM ONTO THIRD PARTY SDR 20-Dec-11 30-Sep-12 640,000
QUINTEC ASSOCIATES LTD UOR S AO1558 & A01599 TECHNICAL SUPPORT 10-Oct-11 30-Jun-12 190,000
EXELIS DEFENCE LIMITED PROVISION OF JTRS BOWMAN WAVEFORM EVALUATION TRIALS  SUPPORT 08-Mar-12 19-Apr-12 60,000
E2E SERVICES LIMITED JSIB ENDURING SUPPORT 01-Apr-12 30-Jun-13 240,000
SULA SYSTEMS LIMITED ENDURING SUPPORT TO BATCIS 12/13 01-Apr-12 31-Mar-13  250,000
QINETIQ LIMITED ENDURING BCIP SUPPORT 12/13 28-Mar-12 28-Jun-13 850,000
THALES UK LIMITED BCIP 5.5 ENDURING SUPPORT 2012/13 01-Apr-12 30-Jun-13 210,000
TRUSTMARQUE SOLUTIONS LIMITED PROVISION OF BCIP 5.5 OFFICE TOOLS LICENCES WITH TOKEN  ACTIVATION CAPABILITY 01-Mar-12 31-Mar-17 3,600,000
C2 DIEPPE LIMITED PROVISION OF E3 01-Apr-12 31-Mar-14  130,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED LSSP 01-Apr-14 31-Mar-19 230,000,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED CONTRACTOR SUPPORT TO BCIP 5.5 FIELDING 26-Mar-13 31-Mar-15 1,700,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED GDUK DESIGN SERVICES PROVIDER (DSP) 28-Mar-14 31-Mar-19 135,000,000
G3 SYSTEMS LIMITED BOWMAN CONVERSION TCOPO 12-Dec-12 31-Dec-13 350,000
AQL EMC LIMITED BOWMAN TCOPO E3 TESTING 14-Jun-13 31-Jul-13 10,000
FUJITSU SERVICES LIMITED SUPPORT TO EXERCISE COUGAR 13 24-Jun-13 31-Mar-14 50,000
ROKE MANOR RESEARCH LTD ADDITIONAL SUPPORT AND BRIEFING MATERIAL FOR SECURITY REVIEW 05-Mar-14 31-Mar-14 10,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY DSTL SUPPORT FOR LSU OA 31-Mar-14 31-Oct-14 50,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED BOWMAN SUPPLY AND SUPPORT CONTRACT 13-Sep-01 31-Mar-14 3,200,000,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED ASSESSMENT PHASE FOR COMBAT & DLB 06-Mar-02 31-Dec-00 11,500,000
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED GDUK INFORMATION SUPPLY 23-Oct-02 14-Jan-08 1
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED JSIB 2003-2008 25-Apr-03 31-Mar-08 25,000
QUINTEC ASSOCIATES LTD TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 02-Apr-07 31-Mar-08 750,000
SYSTEMS CONSULTANTS SERVICES LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 19-Sep-07 25-Apr-08 500,000
QUINTEC ASSOCIATES LTD TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 31-Mar-08 31-Mar-09 800,000
HP ENTERPRISE SERVICES DEFENCE & SECURITY  UK LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 15-Apr-08 31-Mar-09 160,000
SYSTEMS CONSULTANTS SERVICES LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 09-Apr-08 31-Mar-09 160,000
DEVONPORT ROYAL DOCKYARD LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 21-Apr-08 31-Mar-09 120,000
S.COM GROUP LTD TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 10-Apr-08 31-Mar-09 180,000
ABBOTT RISK CONSULTING LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 03-Apr-08 31-Mar-09                  100,000
ADELARD LLP TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 01-Apr-08 31-Mar-09 60,000
SULA SYSTEMS LIMITED TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 19-Mar-08 31-Mar-09 360,000
HP ENTERPRISE SERVICES DEFENCE & SECURITY  UK LIMITED EDS-PROVISION OF TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 1 APRIL 2009 –  31 MARCH 2010 01-Apr-09 31-Mar-10 130,000
E2E SERVICES LIMITED PROVISION OF TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 20-Mar-09 31-Mar-12 550,000
S.COM GROUP LTD SCOM – PROVISION OF TECHNICAL SEUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 11 MAY 2009  – 31 MARCH 2010 11-May-09 31-Oct-09 70,000
RJD TECHNOLOGY LIMITED RJDT-PROVISION OF TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 6 APRIL 2009-31  MARCH 2010 06-Apr-09 31-Mar-10 200,000
ADELARD LLP TECH SUPPORT BATCIS 06-Apr-09 31-Mar-10 60,000
DEVONPORT ROYAL DOCKYARD LIMITED BABCOCK INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY – PROVISION OF TECHNICAL  SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 13 MAY 2009-31 MARCH 2010 13-May-09 31-Mar-10 120,000
QUINTEC ASSOCIATES LTD QUINTEC-PROVISION OF TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO BATCIS IPT 1 APRIL  2009 – 31 MARCH 2010 31-Mar-09 31-Mar-10 500,000

Just to save you the trouble, the total is…

£3,632,585,002

The big hitter of course being General Dynamics at £3.618 billion, original contract value £1.9 billion

Supplier Contract  Value
GENERAL DYNAMICS UNITED KINGDOM LIMITED 3,618,425,002
TRUSTMARQUE SOLUTIONS LIMITED 3,610,000
QUINTEC ASSOCIATES LTD 2,240,000
QINETIQ LIMITED 1,300,000
SYSTEMATIC SOFTWARE ENGINEERING LTD 800,000
E2E SERVICES LIMITED 790,000
SYSTEMS CONSULTANTS SERVICES LIMITED 740,000
EXELIS DEFENCE LIMITED 700,000
SULA SYSTEMS LIMITED 610,000
BOZEAT INDUSTRIAL LIMITED 500,000
DEFENCE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY LABORATORY 420,000
C2 DIEPPE LIMITED 380,000
G3 SYSTEMS LIMITED 350,000
HP ENTERPRISE SERVICES DEFENCE & SECURITY  UK LIMITED 290,000
S.COM GROUP LTD 250,000
DEVONPORT ROYAL DOCKYARD LIMITED 240,000
THALES UK LIMITED 210,000
RJD TECHNOLOGY LIMITED 200,000
FUJITSU SERVICES LIMITED 140,000
ADELARD LLP 120,000
NEXOR LIMITED 110,000
ABBOTT RISK CONSULTING LIMITED 100,000
INTELLECT ENTERPRISES LIMITED 40,000
AQL EMC LIMITED 10,000

 

This is also not the full picture.

The Personal User Data Terminals as first introduced, batteries and other items were (I think) moved into the Future Infantry Soldier Technology (FIST) or other projects. Whether the motivation for that was for genuine technical, project management or doctrinal reasons, or, just to hide the failures in another projects funds is open for discussion.

The costs also fail to include include any number of UOR’s needed because BOWMAN did not deliver or was not bought into service within the target period.

Many think BOWMAN has been a criminal waste of time and money, with lots of revolving doors between the MoD and General Dynamics, the destruction of RACAL and a shockingly poor system delivered to users that has taken a huge effort to get to a workable state.

Opinions seem mixed.

The early problems however, are a matter of record.

It would be good to see The National Audit office should do a follow up their 2007 report with the costs of Afghanistan and Iraq UORS’s considered, plus the related items like batteries, but I guess there is little appetite to do so.

35 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chris
Chris
August 1, 2014 9:16 am

In the early 80s I worked at one of Racal’s development labs. They had just created Jaguar V (as in JAm GUArded Radio VHF) which seemed to work very well. It was put forward for an international procurement. Rumourmill warning – the following may not have happened but the rumour was strong at the time. A competitor radio system (remaining nameless) for the same project was to be demonstrated at R.Sigs Blandford; it seemed to have a bit of difficulty establishing frequency hop synch. The stage was set, one radio plus Army operator each side, suitable jamming equipment, assembled experts and customer reps in attendance. Brief intro, followed by a demonstration of how well the radio coped with dense jamming in band. Except. The radios had difficulty getting in synch. It was suggested by the company rep that they just needed to switch the radios on at the same time and the demo could continue. “Three-Two-One-On!” No synch. “Switch off.” “Three-Two-One-On!” Nope. “Switch off.” And so the day progressed with the radio operators getting more and more frustrated and annoyed that the kit they were ordered to demonstrate was so far from fit for purpose. “Three-Two-One-On!” Nothing. “Switch off.” They continued through lunch, through the afternoon, through tea-break. “Three-Two-One-On!” Still nothing. “Switch off.” Five O’clock and the assembled dignitaries were packing to leave. “Three-Two-One-On!” Success! The radio company rep mood changed from suicidal to jubilant as he invited the delegates to return to their seats for a demonstration. At which point one of the two radio operators stood up and turned his radio off. Horror on the face of the company rep – “What?…” The soldier who was by this time completely hacked off with a day of “Three-Two-One-On!” and very unwilling to sell the radio as a good thing (and no doubt given the opportunity would have voiced his opinion of the equipment very colourfully) mustered all self-control and quietly stated “Its five o’clock, I missed lunch, my shift is over, I’m going to find some food. Good evening.” That radio system won the competition…

Martin
Editor
August 1, 2014 9:26 am

Has the british army ever managed to get a decent radio system.

It really should be a very simple thing to get right.

Hohum
Hohum
August 1, 2014 9:48 am

The problem with Radios is that, seemingly, more than any other piece of military kit they seem to be subject to friction/murphy’s law. Something that may work perfectly on Salisbury plain then for some unforeseen reason not even work in France, let alone Afghanistan. It’s not just the Brits that suffer from this, it’s a universal.

That Bowman was a mess is undeniable, there seems to have been some especially stupid requirements built into it that suggest a comprehensive lack of thinking in some quarters. Hopefully, with the Afghanistan experience it will be possible to be a bit more practical going forward.

On the same subject; this is always a good read: https://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/Rooney_RDS_Aut09II.pdf

wf
wf
August 1, 2014 9:51 am

Bowman is basically SINCGARS in a Union Jack. How the fuck has the MOD managed to fuck it up?

monkey
monkey
August 1, 2014 9:51 am

I can’t help myself but ask how many bowman systems have actually been supplied? Does anyone know?

The Other Chris
August 1, 2014 10:01 am

Thanks for the reading material suggestions, much appreciated.

Chris
Chris
August 1, 2014 10:06 am

TOC – as you asked, it seems son-of-Jaguar is still on offer: https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/australia/defence/panther-enhanced-digital-radio

a
a
August 1, 2014 10:25 am

Bowman is basically SINCGARS in a Union Jack. How the fuck has the MOD managed to fuck it up?

One bit of it – the VHF manpack – is SINCGARS with a Pritchel chip added. Other bits aren’t. The HF set is a Pritchelised Harris radio which the MOD deliberately made unable to operate on any VHF frequencies. Why, God only knows. Bowman HF can’t go about 30 MHz, and VHF can’t go below 30 MHz. The Harris set could work up to 60 MHz, so it was possible for it to talk to VHF sets as well (as long as they were on a fairly low bit of the VHF band). Could have been useful? Generally a good thing to have radios that can talk to as many other radios as possible? Not what the MOD thought!

My favourite Bowman design decision, though, is the battery charge indicators. With a choice of six sides to put the indicator on, these geniuses decided to put it on the top – i.e. the side that is attached to the radio. So you can’t check battery charge unless you take the battery off the radio first!

It has its good points – the HF set in particular is a huge improvement over the old Clansman sets, the kit’s lighter and secure voice is a must-have. But still, ugh.

tweckyspat
August 1, 2014 11:08 am

I think the rooney article sums it up nicely:

A vocal majority with unshakable belief in the power of Digitisation.
• A desperate desire for secure voice at any cost.
• A powerful drive in the Army and MoD desire to keep up
with the Joneses (whether other services or the US).
• A procurement system that set services, procurements
and departments against each other.
• Departments controlling budgets for research, thereby
making their own procurement invulnerable to criticism.
• Plenty of carrots for a smooth procurement, yet no stick
for buying the wrong kit.
• No unbiased watchdog with the authority and skills to
assess a procurement early enough to do anything about it.
The first three might be excusable, but the last four are not.

The system does not have to prove that kit will work, it just
has to avoid proof that it will not.

of course, we wouldn’t make the same mistakes now, would we ?

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
August 1, 2014 11:15 am

@Monkey
I kid you not, nobody knows exactly how much BOWMAN kit there is, or where it is. Which is a spectacular achievement for serialised kit.

This isn’t rumour either. I was tangetially involved in something that required us to know how much there was for our scoping activities. Went a little something like this:

“And BOWMAN, how many terminals are we talking?”
“Err, we think in the region of x thousand.”
“What do you mean ‘we think’ – it’s serialised. Anyone drawing it has to sign for it! How can you not know exactly how many you have!?”
“….”

Fingers crossed the PT seems to be going the right direction with MORPHEUS/LETacCIS and procuring things a little at a time rather than trying to re-do everything at once.

We might even get radios without a toxic, runs-inducing CBRN coating, but that is wishful thinking…

Let’s not forget that a substantial portion of the reserves are still on CLANSMAN! (unless things have improved drastically in the last few years)

Ah, ‘radio, range less than shouting’. PRC351, how I don’t miss thee…

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
August 1, 2014 12:08 pm

Interesting that the BISA’s are not listed, there are only three and only one has been fully approved and working, that being the CBRN BISA. Saying that, there was the £21,000,000 f%$k up to get the then called NBC BISA onto the system in 2008. Someone with big balls (actually it was a women) told the Prime (EDS at the time) they had ripped off the MOD for enough money and cancelled the whole thing and put it back out to tender in 2011. So you could add the 21 million (not that much compared to the final figure) to the pot plus getting the CBRN BISA in plus the other BISA’s.

tweckyspat
August 1, 2014 12:36 pm

http://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/05061050.pdf

Don’t forget the training overhead !

Summary: (p3)

By the time the Department had, sensibly, appointed General Dynamics UK as a single supplier to run both the Bowman and CIP projects as a coherent programme, it had already spent five years and £397 million (equivalent to 16.5 percent of the expected procurement cost of Bowman) on earlier stages, of which it subsequently wrote off some £51 million as not contributing to the later programme.

Despite this extended assessment phase, the Department’s business case still understated the costs, timescales and technical challenges associated with delivering key elements of the Bowman CIP capability. The need for extra funding of £121 million has been identified, to overcome technical difficulties identified during the development of the Bowman system and for essential updates to take account of advancing technology.

Such changes are handled through amendment to the contractual Systems Requirement document. Though equating to only five percent of total equipment costs this is in the context of a reduced total number of vehicles and aircraft needing to be converted, and the deferral of less urgent, though important, capabilities to a possible later project. A trebling of the training facilities assessed as necessary to make full use of Bowman CIP in service will add a further £24 million of costs, and £204 million in total operating costs over 25 years.

Jed
Jed
August 1, 2014 2:05 pm

Twecky said

“A vocal majority with unshakable belief in the power of Digitisation.
• A desperate desire for secure voice at any cost.”

These requirements are hardly inter-stellar, light speed rocket science. With the right plugs I have passed digital data via Clansman 320 HF set in the mid-80’s as part of an experiment, from ship to shore, on battery power, with just the standard whip antenna. Now it was damn slow data rate compared to what we are used to today (for sure partly due to lack of proper wave form ?).

Radio communications can have an element of art to it for sure; there are places all over the world which operators just term black spots or black holes, they just “swallow up all your RF wigglies” mostly in HF. In other places your low power, low probability of intercept VHF gets bounced around under inversion layers (or something…..) and ends up being picked up way over the horizon…….

BUT – that is not excuse. I have not worked with Bowman much when I was TA. I don’t really know if its good or bad, or was bad to start with and now getting good, BUT there were plenty of MOTS alternatives at the time of solution selection, so is this potentially another case of MOD / Army gold plating and pushing requirements just that little bit to far…. ??

Ed Zeppelin
Ed Zeppelin
August 1, 2014 2:22 pm

There is no denying that Bowman is the least intuitive system ever devised, but in the hands of a switched on user it is pretty good. I joined after the initial problems had been ironed out and I never had any dramas with it, be it on Salisbury Plain, BATUS or Afghanistan. The lack of commonality between the keypads and menu systems of the VHF and HF really irritated me, as it should have been possible to make them identical, although the Harris one was off the shelf of course. Bowman goes wrong in the hands of the moron. I remember an officer, who was a known cretin, marching round at H-Hr in STANTA with the standard man pack radio shouting “Can someone who is trained on this get it to work for me”. Umm, it’s the standard army radio, for use by LCpl and above and it needs to be turned on first!
The major shit shower in the world of Bowman is COMBAT, our attempt at a Blueforce tracker/Battlefield management type technology. It is an utter abortion and I have never know it to work outside of a CATT simulator. Give me a map, a marking template and some lumocolours any day. Interestingly the Germans have the same problem with theirs. I often think that we need to break out from being supplied by the standard defence contractors and get google/apple to design these things. The excuse that they need to be ruggedised is bollocks. My iPhone has taken a hell of a beating and still works!

PhilEeeeeee
PhilEeeeeee
August 1, 2014 4:16 pm

No doubt Bowman had it’s problems in the early days, but lets not forget the complexity of the system being used.

I think the biggest issue Bowman suffered was the gap between user expectation and reality. Everything was compared to what is available in the civilian world and that’s either not possible or not supported by the requirements.

– You can not compare civvy data rates which have tremendous mast density with that of a deployed force. You can’t protect 1 mast per square km.
– You can not compare the data you have at home with a brick-like rugged data tablet, because a data tablet wouldn’t survive the environmental qualification of the requirements let alone the physical abuse.
– You can not compare the technology update with that of civvy st. The existing arrangements just could not keep track with the updates in processors, operating systems and software so they all lag far behind what you’d expect.

Ed Zepplin – Your iphone wouldn’t last 2 minutes against the environmental requirements. I might last 10 minutes in a ruggedised case (like otterbox). But there’s still the trade off of cheap to replace COTS -v- longer lasting bespoke.

SA – I bet much of that kit is sat in a pile waiting for repair with unprocessed paper work because they don’t need to repair it. Some of that will return to A1, much of it won’t.

radish293
radish293
August 1, 2014 5:24 pm

It’s not the only crap radio system the Emergency Services Airwave system isn’t much better. It was full of promises of how good it was going to be when conceived yet it delivered far less. It can’t cope with sending data and barely cope with voice transmissions in high density areas. It’s so good that it’s due to be replaced in 2016. Highly expensive charged each time the press to talk is pushed. I once from an insider heard that when BT held the first meeting the Home Office pulled their trousers and were promptly B?&t @u£ed. Let’s home the new system is better.

wstr
wstr
August 1, 2014 7:16 pm

CBRNGuru “Interesting that the BISA’s are not listed, there are only three and only one has been fully approved and working, that being the CBRN BISA”

BISAs would be procured as separately contracted programmes within CBM(Land) [and its predecessors] so would not be expected to be counted in any FOI trawl on Bowman/BCIP. Two of the three industry-MoD JIBs that have the task of bashing these parallel procured square pegs into the round holes are listed though (JNIB – networks; JSIB – systems including BISAs). JTIB (training) was consumed within JBUTSE(?)

Last public count of BISAs was four: MAKEFAST (Combat Engineering); FC BISA (Field Arty); GBAD (Air Defence); CBRN (as on the tin). G2 or G2/ISTAR BISA seems to have been stillborn, no idea where that is – nothing in public announcements.
I believe more than just CBRN are technically approved on the latest Bowman release and in some limited use – grab a Gunner! However expect each to vary in how much use the Training Teams are making of them and far down the end-user line, the Regiments have been made to take up the conversion – willingly or not!

paul g
August 1, 2014 7:31 pm

trained as a REME tels tech in 1984, first day of course “of course you guys won’t see a lot of this and you will be back on a BOWMAN course before you’re back for your class 1 course.” fast forward to 2005 and still working on clansman!!

PS I had the dickhead officer as well, BATUS, some 1 pip HCR twat decided to give us a right chewing in front of his troops for “sending out knackered kit that we were obviously too stupid to fix” 2 seconds later me and another sgt explain to him quite loudly the correct switch positions. with a parting shot of “he should stick to horses” again loud enough for everyone to hear.

Topman
Topman
August 1, 2014 8:03 pm

@radish293

‘It’s not the only crap radio system the Emergency Services Airwave system isn’t much better.’

Is it that bad? i know a few people who use it, they thought it was far better than their older systems.

Radish293
Radish293
August 1, 2014 8:52 pm

@topman
Airwave is better than the legacy system as it suffers less from black spots more due to better aerial sighting. It really struggles in London especially on big events. One of the big benefits it the ability to use it throughout the UK Its possible to go to Scotland and still talk to the same operator in your home force. It’s also useful to be able to make a private call between any radio, if you know the number any user in the UK. can talk to any other. The telephony is poor and often drops out. It just haven’t delivered what was promised.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
August 1, 2014 10:36 pm

@ wstr, I was at Blanford last year for the CBRN BISA, speaking to the test team, GBAD had gone tits up, FC can’t get final approval yet because some tree hugger is sighting litigation issues if someone pushes the wrong button and brings down fire in the wrong area and Holdfast is having some teething issues.
So in my answer I took GBAD out of the equation until someone puts it right or it may end up like the NBC BISA and head quickly down the toilet.
Just to throw something into the mix on replacement there was a very strong rumour that TORC²H and TIGER had been demonstrated to the MoD last year.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
August 1, 2014 10:38 pm

@ wstr,
I was at Blanford last year for the CBRN BISA, speaking to the test team, GBAD has gone tits up, FC can’t get final approval yet because some tree hugger is sighting litigation issues if someone pushes the wrong button and brings down fire in the wrong area and Holdfast is having some teething issues.
So in my answer I took GBAD out of the equation until someone puts it right or it may end up like the NBC BISA and head quickly down the toilet.
Just to throw something into the mix on replacement there was a very strong rumour that TORC²H and TIGER had been demonstrated to the MoD last year.

Alex
Alex
August 1, 2014 10:38 pm

I wonder how many of the O2 UK 2G base stations the Airwave radios are piggybacked on:

a) got any investment ever again?
b) are shared with Vodafone under Project Cornerstone?
c) are kept back from Cornerstone?
d) were closed as surplus under Cornerstone?

Ed Zeppelin
Ed Zeppelin
August 1, 2014 11:21 pm

PhilEeeeeee

“Ed Zepplin – Your iphone wouldn’t last 2 minutes against the environmental requirements. I might last 10 minutes in a ruggedised case (like otterbox). But there’s still the trade off of cheap to replace COTS -v- longer lasting bespoke.”

Umm, I would have thought that my post made it reasonably clear that I have an idea about what those environmental requirements might be. I’ve taken my phone on every exercise I’ve ever been on and it has never stopped working. It’s not as if BOWMAN kit is exposed to the elements. It goes into a day sack/ vehicle / HQ or, if you are old school FIBUA-ing, a webbing pouch. The idea that it needs to be covered in magic paint is a nonsense. Apple for the BOWMAN replacement I say!

Obsvr
Obsvr
August 2, 2014 4:20 am

Historically radio systems have been pretty good by the standards of the time when they entered service. Larkspur was OK (not forgetting A41/42 were straight copies of PRC9/10), but about 5 yrs later PRC 25 entered service and that was a step change, it was another 15 yrs and Clansman before UK radios were up to current standard. PRC320 (HF) was fine, our chums connected to the Cemetery net OK using it instead of their own WW2 PT boat set in a wooden box.

The need to encrypt everything was blindingly clear by the mid-80s, the WP SIGINT threat was very serious.

Its amusing to remember that RA was using Larkspur for data transmission in the early 1970s (B48 FACE – AWDATS for the technically minded).

BV Buster
BV Buster
August 2, 2014 6:27 am

Radish: I’m sat playing with an airwave now in some undisclosed scotish sporting event, seems to be working well so far, personally it thinks it fairly easy to use and relatively reliable, and that’s coming from a stinking squaddie that’s as thick as a whale omelet.

BV

Radish293
Radish293
August 2, 2014 3:55 pm

@BV BUSTER
It’s most likely working well because BT have moved moved loads of infrastructure to Scotland. Must have come from Ealing as it was total crap in the high street today. Wouldn’t connect, call quality dire and kept dropping out.

PhilEeeeeee
PhilEeeeeee
August 3, 2014 3:31 pm

Zeppelin – And I’m talking about the requirements, and not operational use. The iPhone (and most domestic electrical equipment) is only rated for 0C to 35C. That’s nothing compared to 00-35. And that’s before we start looking at IP ratings, shock and vibration.

Hohum
Hohum
August 3, 2014 4:16 pm

Whatever happened to P-BISA? Did that ever actually get installed in the Warriors and Challengers?

Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
August 4, 2014 1:15 pm

@PhilEeeeeee – Yeah, we were told most of it was probably languishing on a shelf in theatre somewhere, knackered.

There’s also a growing feeling that maybe just buying 3 iPhones is cheaper and easier than buying one brick that is certified out the ass for adverse environments. After all, you can just go out and buy a new one from a shop. The USMC trialled this, giving iPads to Cobra pilots for mapping and I think it worked quite well – one breaks, just grab another from the PX.
I will admit that this isn’t much help in the likes of Norway though.

Personally I think we should be funding GCHQ to develop our own sovereign flavours of Linux and Android for our computing needs (Open Source see, perfectly legal). Then we can be hardware independant – it becomes fairly irrelevant as we can put ‘our’ operating system on whatever we want. Be that a Nexus from Carphone Warehouse or something gucci from Thales etc.

@wstr – a lot of the Bowman training stuff did move to JBTSE, which then became TSSP and is now STSP TSSP; “Soldier, Training & Special Programmes Training and Simulation Systems Programme”. And no, I am not making that name up.

@Boss – it’s a funny world; I don’t remember BATCO or the ’80s, but I am very familiar with the good old PRC 349. Which joined my helmet, rifle & optics as one of the many pieces of issue kit older than I was. Think I still have one of my mess tins – stamped /| 1945…

The Other Chris
August 4, 2014 1:34 pm

Only related in terms of mounting radios to a helmet, but thought it might be of interest here.

U.S. Army is looking at helmet prototypes with optional parts to protect the face and jaw from various threats, including blast waves:

http://defense-update.com/20140803_helmet_blast.html

Observer
Observer
August 4, 2014 2:37 pm

Interesting. You saw the pressure wave chart? Looks like the full version makes you take a huge pressure hit all at once instead of the spread out pressure of the non-full helmet versions.