A risk reduction contract for the Ministry of Defence’s £1.5bn Bowman military communications programme is imminent, according to the Archer joint venture which will supply Bowman to the British Army.
The risk reduction contract is required before subcontracts can be awarded for Bowman’s different components, the joint venture said. The most controversial of these, for the VHF radio element, is understood to have already been won by America’s ITT Defence, which holds a controlling 40% stake in Archer Communications Systems.
ITT was in competition for the VHF radio with fellow Archer member Racal Electronics, which is believed to be bitter about the decision. Racal holds a 30% stake in Archer and Siemens Plessey Systems the other 30%.
Bowman should have entered service in December 1995, but will only do so in 2001. Last week the National Audit Office said that 40 months of this delay was caused by ‘budgetary constraints’ – shorthand for the MoD’s inability to afford to start funding Bowman, which will replace the army’s obsolete Clansman radios.