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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS FROM PS2 THE UK’S LEADING GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS ORGANISATION

DEFENCE

Angola
Mike Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to provide assistance for the training of the Angolan armed forces. [192608R]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom provides a small amount of training annually to the Angolan armed forces. This training is targeted at military education designed to increase national capacity to conduct peace support operations. The Ministry of Defence is currently examining proposals for 2005-06.

Astute Class Attack Submarines
Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proposed Astute Class attack submarines. [191744]

Mr. Ingram: There are three Astute Class Submarines currently on contract with BAE Systems. Further orders for the Astute Class Submarine are being considered and an announcement will be made at the appropriate time.

Bowman Radios
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes (a) have been made and (b) are planned to (i) the Warrior, (ii) the Challenger II main battle tank and (iii) the Land Rover to allow them to be fitted with the Bowman Radio; and what estimate he has made of the cost in each case. [191016]

Mr. Ingram: The aim of the Bowman programme is to install this battle winning tactical communications capability in a wide range of military platforms at minimal disruption to their current configuration. The work necessary to achieve this is contained within the contracted firm price secured through competition and cannot be separately identified.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many incidents of minor radiofrequency burns have been reported by servicemen and women involved in the trials of the Bowman Radio. [191017]

Mr. Ingram: From our experience with the Clansman PRC320 man-portable radio we were already aware of the possibility of radio frequency burns inherent in all high frequency radios. A combination of minor modifications and acceptable operating limitations has reduced the risk within the Bowman man-portable radio to a negligible level. Although reports from early trials mention that a few soldiers have received minor burns, none states that medical treatment was required.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether operation of the Challenger II main battle tank has been impaired by noise interference to tank crews as a result of installing Bowman radios. [191018]

Mr. Ingram: Following well-established incident reporting procedures, Challenger 2 tank crews have reported intermittent failures of the internal intercom since installation of the Bowman communications system. The system’s designers are working to establish the cause conclusively and to determine a cost-effective solution. Until this is resolved, we have issued an advisory safety instruction that, with immediate effect, Challenger 2 tank crews are to exercise extreme caution when safe operations would be compromised by even a brief loss of commander or driver communications.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what problems have been experienced with the software included in the Bowman Radio Communications Programme; and what he estimates the cost of correcting these problems to be. [191019]

Mr. Ingram: Bowman is a software intensive programme that contains over 10 million lines of bespoke source code. With a system of this complexity, it is typical for errors to be encountered following the integration of sub-systems, especially as it is often operated in a manner not predicted in its original design. The programme is continuing within its approved schedule, cost and performance, and the costs of software development cannot be separately identified within the contract firm price secured through competition.

Canadian Submarines

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State

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