Britain has ordered another 3,400 Bowman Tactical Radios, to equip the growing number of troops headed for Afghanistan. The Bowman radios first entered service in 2005, when troops in Iraq received them. Bowman began development twenty years ago, as a replacement for the 1960s era Clansman radios. The Bowman radios went through a rough fifteen years of development.
Bowman is a modern communications system, providing VHF and HF, encrypted, frequency hopping digital communications. There are several models, the most widely used (45,000 of the 93,000 to be bought) are personal radios for infantry and commandos. After the personal radios, the most common models are those installed in vehicles, and a lighter, portable version for platoon and company commanders. For Internet use, there are 3,600 HCDR (High Capacity Data Radio) models.
The digital capability of the Bowman radios enables vehicles to plug in PCs and share data as well as voice communications. This is another example of how ground forces create a battlefield Internet, to give commanders and troops instant access to information from many sources. This enables the troops to be more aware of who is where and doing what on the battlefield. Bowman radios also have GPS, which enables this locator capability to work.