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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE

“General Dynamics has delivered a highly complicated system in a short period of time to price and specification to a very demanding British Army customer,” Andrew Browne, Vice President, BOWMAN, General Dynamics United Kingdom (GDUK) told BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold.
The Editor asked Browne for a comment with regard to a number of adverse comments in the press with regard to perceived problems with the BOWMAN system.

“We are suffering from a degree of expectation from our Army customer who, having got to grips with this new system, which, being light years ahead of their steam-driven Clansman system, is now asking for even more capability, ”Browne said

“However,” he continued, “We are constrained by contract price and specification. The perception that BOWMAN is seven years old and thus a mature system ready for service is far from the actual situation. General Dynamics United Kingdom won the BOWMAN award after the collapse of the Archer Consortium in 2001 and has had three years to develop the MoD requirement from the baseline Canadian Iris product. As part of the contract we were required to take on legacy systems and products from Archer as the MoD had invested considerable sums in these systems. One of these products is the ITT 354 VP radio. We inherited the 354 after a five year development programme run by Archer and the MoD and thus the technology available to our customer is perceived as old and heavy when compared to new products such as those from Harris and ITT and the Marconi PRR. However, for us to junk this radio and acquire a new product, would require an increase in the budget and a long delay in deployment whilst the new system is deployed. The MoD has provided additional funding to ensure that the webbing system for this radio met the demanding requirements of the user. In addition the introduction of the Combat Infrastructure and PBISA(CIP) in 2002 required a huge integration and software integration programme to harmonise the fielding of the CIP elements to the Bowman schedule.”

One of the biggest hurdles for GDUK to overcome has been the deployment of the BOWMAN Trials 12 Mech. Brigade to Iraq. Prior to this announcement we had expected to continue the agreed trials with a bit of leeway to make any changes to the system post-trials, now GDUK is faced with an immediate deployment of a system which is still being trialled In addition the requirement to install the Thales BGTI has also caused teething problems.

“Although Thales has supplied BGTI systems to us, there was no qualification testing done to ensure software compatibility between BOWMAN and BGTI, thus we and Thales are working together to develop the software interface to enable the system to become fully operational,” he continued

“The installation programme is probably the most challenging of the whole requirement and some vehicles have required three times more man hours to complete the installation. Some of this is due to the lack of a common build standard which was dropped by the MoD due to budgetary constraints. We have invested a considerable amount of our own money at Ashchurch, in Germany and BATUS in Canada to ensure that the installation programme continues to meet the needs of the Army,” Browne said.

The constraints that the Tellic deployment put on GDUK required that the BOWMAN ORD delivery be split into two parts, BCIP 04, which included the Brigade Operational Field Trials conducted in December 2004 and BCIP 05 that includes the ability to pick up additional elements required plus new contractual increments.

“The Iraq deployment by 12 Mech. will take place with an operational BOWMAN system together with a small number of Clansman fitted vehicles. Additionally, we have been required by the MoD to fulfil additional UOR’s including the supply of additional Harris HF radios and significant in-country support and new features

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