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BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold talks to the BOWMAN team

“The BOWMAN system is performing to the standard required by the ISD declared in March 2004,” Brigadier Rick Bounsall, Bowman Integrated Project Team Leader told BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold.

“However we have to admit that we are experiencing a number of problems with the CIP element of the programme and the tactical internet in particular. In addition the mammoth task of fitting out 16000 vehicles by GD in Germany and Ashchurch is proving to be more difficult than previously envisaged. The plants are now converting 50 vehicles a week which should rise to 60 later this year,” he continued.

One area where the MoD must shoulder most of the blame is in this ID&C installation programme, seen as early as 1992 by ITT as being one problem area. The MoD was asked by GD to bring all vehicles up to a common Build Standard as there were a raft of upgrades and additions on the whole range, CVR(T) in particular. Insys built and ran a computer programme to solve this problem but it did not form part of the winning consortium. But the bill for this was costed at a price believed to be £10m and with a programme already running over budget, it was dropped and vehicles have been arriving at Ashchurch in differing forms of build, thus lengthening the installation process.

“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,” Andrew Browne, Vice President, BOWMAN, General Dynamics United Kingdom (GDUK) said.

“With such a task as BOWMAN, the digitisation of the British Armed Forces, efficient Risk Management is the way forward to iron out these problems to ensure that we have sound and operational backbone and software package on which we can carry the huge number of information systems required to make the British Army fully network centric,” Bounsall said.

To really understand how BOWMAN radios have improved the operations of the Army and its ability to fight and save lives, Rick Bounsall introduced me to Brigadier Andrew Gregory, Assistant Chief of Staff, Command and Battlespace Management, based at Land HQ Wilton, where we had our interview.

“My post has been established since March 04 to take BOWMAN forward to the next level of user integration,” Gregory said, “It is my job to ensure that all the lines of development are in place and the concepts and training doctrine are carried out and more particularly understood by the training staff – we are not just introducing a new radio system, we are introducing a new way of operations for the British Armed Forces, that must be understood,” Gregory said.

Gregory is supported by the Land Systems Reference Centre, C2DC in Warminster and CSDC at Blandford to ensure the smooth and correct integration of equipment, command systems and procedures. To ensure that the system is managed properly a team of BOWMAN System Managers are being selected from a pan-Army selection, thus many different cap badges, (Andrew Gregory is a gunner as is Rick Bounsall). These managers, usually with some form of signals background, will be embedded in the various BOWMAN units. “BOWMAN needs this new grade of systems manager right down to non-signal units for training in particular. The Artillery has been particularly versed in the usage and deployment of advanced electronic systems through our usage of BATES and ADCIS in particular,” Gregory continued

“Is there a particular unit dedicated to BOWMAN deployment now that 12th Mech Brigade is in Iraq,” the Editor aske

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