To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the performance and size specifications are of (a) the Thales Defence Systems Bowman personal radio and (b) the CDC Systems personal radio system, with particular relevance to the size of the (i) radio, (ii) microphone and (iii) ear-piece; if a smaller ear-piece design was explored by Thales Defence Systems; what assessment he has made of whether the Thales Defence Systems Bowman personal radio wiring restricts a soldier's range of motion; and if he will make a statement.
There is no "personal radio system" supplied as part of the Bowman programme. For the purpose of this answer, I have assumed the intended subject to be the Bowman Personal Role Radio (PRR).
PRR was separated from the total Bowman requirement in October 1999 to ensure delivery of these radios to the front line earlier than would otherwise have been the case. The PRR Invitation to Tender was issued in March last year and eight responses were received. CDC Systems did not take part in the competition.
Thales (then trading as Thompson CSF) did submit a bid. However, as it did not win the competition and is no longer involved with Ministry of Defence on the PRR programme, it would be inappropriate for MOD to release commercial information that was obtained as part of the competitive process. I am therefore withholding the performance and size specifications requested in accordance with Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
I can confirm that the Thales PRR audio ancillaries were assessed during the competition and were not found to restrict the soldier's range of motion.
Marconi ultimately won the PRR contract on the basis that its system offered the best value for money in terms of performance, through life support, programme and cost. Work has progressed extremely well and we expect to better the declared ISD of March 2002.