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Last Updated: Friday, 1 October, 2004, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
'Radiation burns from Army radio'
British Army
More than 100,000 British troops will need training for the new radios
UK troops testing the Army's 1.9bn Bowman radios have reportedly been given radiation burns by the device.

Royal Anglian Regiment soldiers - the first equipped with the platoon-level radios - were burned at certain power settings, Defence Analysis reports.

The company-level radios are so much heavier than the 60s ones they replace, one broke a three quarter tonne Land Rover's chassis, the journal adds.

The Ministry of Defence said none of the burns required medical treatment.

An MoD spokesman told BBC News Online soldiers carrying the radios had received "minor radiofrequency burns" - but the problems had been resolved with the issuing of more detailed instructions for use.

The problems were not unique to the Bowman system and trialling of the system would continue, he added.

Replacement radios

There were "very big pluses associated with" the new radios - designed to enable troops to communicate securely with each other during battle, the spokesman told BBC News Online.

And the MoD was investigating the possibility of upgrading the front and rear axle weights of the Land Rover to allow it to handle the radio's weight.

But Defence Analysis reports testers have also had difficulty fitting the radio into the Challenger 2 tank and the Warrior armoured personnel carrier.

And the Royal Marines were so concerned about the Bowman's weight they tried to buy replacement radios before being blocked by government ministers.

Mobile telephones

The Bowman system is designed to replace the army's ageing battlefield radio system, now more than 25 years old.

More than 100,000 British troops will need training for the new radios, which will be used by land forces and some elements of the Royal Navy and RAF.

General Dynamics (UK) won the 1.9bn contract to replace the vintage Clansman system after it proved so unreliable in Kosovo that at any one time up to 35% of soldiers' radios were in need of repair.

Unit commanders had to resort to mobile telephones and compete with the media for access to civilian radio.

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