17 Dec 03. Ken Beselt, General Manager of General Dynamics UK’s South Wales and Ashchurch operations gave BATTLESPACE and exclusive interview with regard to the success of the recent Initial Operational Capability (IOC) Battalion Operational Field Trial (Bn OFT) to test the British Army’s new Bowman radio system.
Five hundred soldiers of the 1st Royal Anglian Regiment, equipped with 103 vehicles of Saxon and Land-Rover type, took part in the two week Bowman IOC Bn OFT held near to Warminster on Salisbury Plain. Fifty Six Trials Support vehicles of various types, all fully equipped with the Bowman system were used for support and monitoring purposes.
“All the vehicles used during the trail were fully equipped with the ITT ADR+ VHF and Harris HF radios, based on Harris’ highly successful Falcon® II Tactical Radio. Significant numbers of the DRS Scorpion User Data Terminals were deployed with the system and, in addition a number of manpack radios were used. In addition the BOWMAN network was fully utilised for the first time. This includes the VIDS, the Vehicle Intercom System and the VEDS, the fibre optic linked data and voice distribution system to distribute data and voice between vehicles,” Beselt told BATTLESPACE, “During July and August, these troops had taken part in the initial basic desktop Bowman training programme for platoon and battalion attack utilising the GKN-Westland system at the Guards Depot in Pirbright.”
“In addition we were able to deploy the ITT HCDR data radio in its basic form, the first phase did not have the development or maturity required. The mature version of this system will be deployed on January 4th. The first Brigade trials involving 12 Mech. Brigade, consisting of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, 228 Signals Squadron and 1 Royal Anglians, using 300 vehicles over a two week period in March 2004,”he continued
Peter Worrall, BLT IPT said, “I am very pleased to report that the BOWMAN Initial Operating Capability (IOC) Battalion Operational Field Trial (Bn OFT) finished yesterday. It completed with Exercise Bowman Challenge with a demanding Battalion attack on the frosty, picturesque village of Imber. It has been reported to me by my Trials Officer on the ground that Bowman gave a good account of itself. One hundred plus vehicles took part in the OFT. From the results I have seen to date, I judge the Bn OFT to have been a real success, especially as we are only at the IOC increment!
Ken Beselt said,”We are very pleased with the overall results of the Battalion Operational Field Trial. The conversion, training and field trialling of 1st Royal ANGLIAN, the first “Bowmanized” unit in the British Army, is a significant achievement for the entire Bowman Team. In particular it is noteworthy to hear that Bowman capability has had a positive impact on the tempo of operations, even at this first increment of delivery. GD UK and our entire sub-contract partnership team are now focused on moving forward from the experience of the Bn OFT to achieving the Bowman/CIP March 2004 In Service Date.”
In addition to the success of the IOC, BATTLESPACE has also learned that the Challenger 2 Platform BISA installation programme involving AlvisVickers and DRS is progressing well, full conversion will commence in January and February.
The AS90 has completed live firing test and qualification trails with the BOWMAN system on board.
Comment: Like it or not the BOWMAN doubters days are over, Bowman is being delivered on schedule! In his interview with BATTLESPACE for our DSEi issue, GD UK Managing Director Larry Johnson (now a familiar face on BA transatlantic flights!), praised his team at GD, the sub-contrcators, including ITT, Harris and DRS, the CSDC Trials Unit and the MoD’s IPT led by Peter Worrall, quite rightly so. GD has brought BOWMAN into service with few wobbles and on time. At last after years of worry, wait and disaster, covered by BATTLESPACE and other publications, BOWMAN is now