Is the Bowman radio really this heavy?!


Active member
From The Telegraph:
[British soldiers] complain that the [Bowman] radio weighs 15lb, more than three times heavier than the equivalent Clansman radio, a problem common to all of the Bowman tactical radio sets.

The Royal Marines were so alarmed by the weight that they attempted to opt out of Bowman and purchase their own sets off the shelf but were blocked from doing so by ministers, Defence Analysis says.
Surely not ...?

Is the 'tactical radio set' the man-portable one, or the one that is supposed to go in the Land Rover (and broke the chassis when it was tried)?
Not only is it heavy but the aerials are all wrong.

I hope someone has informed Mr John Reid, Mr Adam Ingram,
the commanders of 7 and 12 Bde that their HF carrying vehicles in
Iraq have been delivered with the wrong antenna systems.
The HF antennas being supplied for the vehicles are the same level
of technology as the Clansman HF radio used and Larkspur before
They should have been supplied with HF NVIS loop antennas which
would have enabled the HF signals to be transmitted and recieved
on the move anywhere in Iraq, this is a fact know to the Signal
Corp, the Manufacturers and the MOD.
The result of the "oversight" will be that HF vehicle users will be
given some old technology masts and a wire dipole or a couple
of wire dipoles advised to stop the vehicle and erect the mast
sling the dipoles over the mast and hope for the best.
As they will be in the skip zone at this time they will have much
difficulty getting through. Using this antiquated "solution" means
that they loose the most important element of the Bowman HF
system, that is the ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) facility.
Why did they not purchase the correct antenna system in the
first place? This is the sixtyfour thousand dollar question.
Of course MOD will tell you they dont really need to communicate
on HF throughout Iraq.
I have yet to meet any senior signals officer commander anywhere in
the world who would be happy with 16 miles of HF communications
when he can have 1600 miles of blanket HF coverage.
Yet the MOD because they have made an almighty **** up have
suddenly decided the goal posts need to be shifted.
Guess who's been hung out to dry. Again.
Nothing new there then.
Last edited:
Doug97 said:
Surely not ...?

Is the 'tactical radio set' the man-portable one, or the one that is supposed to go in the Land Rover (and broke the chassis when it was tried)?

The Bowman Radio is one of the many ....-ups sadly carried out by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) military procurement programme. Not only is it not up to the job it's also about 12 years late. :rolleyes:
A futher note from an operator

What they will do is work out the party
line for any press enquiries, put up a lot of spin about they know best
etc etc. But the truth like oil in water will surface.
There are more than one group responsible for the mess that the
vehicular HF is in, but the principle group are Defence Procurement
Agency (DPA). Who have allowed the contractors to get away with
supplying cheap old hat technology antennas when high tech
antennas were specified.
The Bowman team leader and the Signals officer in chief for not
getting off their hands and insisting on the correct antennas, but
there is a problem here, senior officers within the Bowman team
and the Signal Corps knew little about vehicular loop antennas,
so instead of evaluating them, they chose to ignore them. Which
probably means that those who turned a blind eye are probably
going to be working for the contractors in the near future.
The contractors both British and American for putting their own
bottom line profits before the technical requirement. Then having
the nerve to ask for more money to solve the problem, and finally
to spend that additional money not on the new technology but by
supplying a cheap plastic mast and a piece of wire for the vehicles.
This is like giving a highly qualified sniper a blunderbus. absolutely
useless. Then back to the DPA for allowing this to happen. Then
back to the Royal Signals for pressing their hands once again under
their thighs.
Now that the facts are beginning to emerge, they are all in the
trenches, tin hats on, shouting not me guv to whoever will listen
whilst their publicity machines are at full roar singing the praises of
Bowmen HF in Iraq, but they were doing this even before it was
I find that very strange, though it was obviously publicity designed
to deflect future critiscm.
One very senior "communications" officer must know how to break the
laws of physics, not bend them, break them as he has been busy
briefing that the Bowman HF radio will get into any corner of Iraq.
Well I have to inform him that it will, but only if it has the right
antennas, with the antennas supplied it will be lucky to work 16 miles.
I have informed him that the propaganda being pushed out is
based on having the correct antennas.
Without which the HF element of Bowman is money poured away
as the two basic benefits of Bowman Automatic Link Establishment
(ALE) and Frequency Hopping (FH) are not available with the cheap
NVIS antenna solution being promoted by the contractor.
More importantly British soldiers are being placed in unnecessary
danger from Friendly fire due to the current shortfall of the Bowman
HF vehicular system. I do hope that the commanders are starting to
ask questions, because I feel like I am a voice in the wilderness.
I keep looking around to see if I can spot any of those taurags from
the MOD or the DPA. A forlorn hope,
the desert is far to close for
comfort for them.
One wonders why the requirement to patrol the Iran border
against the insurgent supply routes is being strongly opposed, it is
probably because the HF comms will not work between 16 and 300
miles using the current antennas on the vehicles. But this is another
LeEnfield 2 said:
I hope someone has informed Mr John Reid, Mr Adam Ingram, the commanders of 7 and 12 Bde that their HF carrying vehicles in
Iraq have been delivered with the wrong antenna systems.

I guess there's always Virgin Mobile :lol:

But I'm flabbergasted that the radio is so heavy compared to the Clansman. Isn't the general trend for electronics towards smaller & lighter? I mean, the Clansman must have had valves (or at least no integrated circuits) ... is the article really comparing radios with the same roles? If so, what exactly is it about the Bowman that makes it so heavy?

Found out a bit more: said:
While the sets are small the frame is not and is heavy ... You have to agree that the frame is vastly overengineered. Although it was MoD who wanted a strong frame built GD had it built and the issued one is the result, and that is what we are stuck with, it is one of the most complained items on feedback.