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EUROPE

Jul 05. Bowman Communications Equipment. Mr. Havard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the performance of the Bowman communications equipment in theatre operations; and if he will make a statement. Mr. Ingram: An initial Bowman operational capability has been achieved and it is having a direct and positive effect on the communications capability with UK Forces on Operation Telic 6 in Iraq. The deployment of 12 Mechanised Brigade to Iraq in April 2005, with a core Bowman capability alongside some existing Clansman capability, marked a critical milestone in the incremental Bowman programme as this was the first operational use of the system. Overall, the feedback has been positive. In particular, the voice quality and coverage achieved over differing environments have vastly improved. It is being used in a range of modes, providing both secure and insecure communications, and interoperability with non-Bowman units. The personal role radio with a 500m effective range, has significantly enhanced low level command and control wherever deployed, including on operations in Iraq. 50,000 radios have been issued to date. Bowman is not a direct replacement for Clansman and there are still issues to be resolved. Problems encountered in fitting Bowman to complex warfighting platforms such as Challenger 2, Warrior and turreted armoured vehicles have introduced delays. The Ministry of Defence is working closely with the Bowman Prime Contractor and Design Authorities to resolve these issues. To date, over 2,600 vehicles have been converted.

11 Jul 05. New orders booked by the UK aerospace industry rose by 28 per cent year-on-year in 2004 to £22.6bn, the highest level since 1998. The increase shows the sector’s worldwide recovery. The UK aerospace sector, the second largest in the world after the US, today reports a rise of 14 per cent in civil orders to £10.5bn last year. Defence orders rose 42 per cent thanks to the signing of the second tranche of orders for the Eurofighter combat aircraft by the UK government. The increase is expected to support a significant rise in industry turnover during the next few years, although sales last year rose only 1.6 per cent to £17.7bn. Aerospace is recovering from three years of recession in the commercial aircraft sector. Commercial sales had been depressed by the fall in demand for air travel from 2001 triggered by overlapping crises in aviation caused by a weakening of the global economy, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, the war in Iraq and the outbreak of Sars in 2003. Research and development spending averaged 11 per cent of turnover in 2004 at £2.2bn, a 5.6 per cent fall from 2003 but still well above the £1.6bn spent in 2001 at the beginning of the present R&D cycle. Last year 35 per cent of R&D was accounted for by the civil sector and 65 per cent defence. Of defence R&D, a third was funded by the UK government, while 44 per cent came from spending by overseas companies and other governments. Only 14 per cent of defence R&D was self-funded.

Jul 05. The French government has announced the list of sixty-seven regional competitiveness initiatives (“pôles de compétitivité”) selected by the CIADT* interministerial committee for regional planning and development as part of France’s industrial development policy. The Thales Group is playing a central role in this development. As one of the major companies among the many political and economic players in the regions that put forward these projects, Thales welcomes this decision. Of the fifteen projects described as international, Thales is an active participant in two “global” projects and three others “with global horizons”:
The “System@tic” complex systems and software cluster in the Greater Paris
region, for which Thales chairs the executive committee
The “Aéronautique, Espace et Systèmes Embarqués” (aerospace and embedded systems) cluster in the Midi-Pyrénées and

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