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EDITIONS
Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 11:32 GMT
Military deal creates hi-tech jobs
Army radio signalmen
More than 100,000 troops will use the new radios
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, opening the new HQ of a company making military radio systems in south Wales, has said the firm is in pole position to secure hundreds more hi-tech jobs

General Dynamics(UK) is to supply the army with its new Bowman radio system, which has been plagued by delays for several years.


Our armed forces can now look forward to receiving the most modern secure communications system available anywhere

Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon

The contract, worth 1.9bn, is the biggest defence contract ever awarded in Wales.

Four hundred high-technology job are being created at the site in Oakdale in the Gwent Valleys in an area which has been badly hit by manufacturing redundancies.

However, the company has been named as preferred bidder for two further contracts - with potential to bring a further 600 jobs to the south Wales site.

After touring the factory and meeting staff, Mr Hoon said: "This is excellent news for British jobs and underlines our commitment to utilise British skills and expertise to supply our armed forces with the world class equipment they deserve.

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

General Dynamics beat off competition from two other consortia to land the deal for the full-scale production of the radio link.

The army has used hundreds of vehicles to deliver the state-of-the-art digital equipment needed for the creation of the new generation of military communications.

UK Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon
Mr Hoon opened the headquarters at Oakdale

The deal, confirmed by Mr Hoon in July 2001, will also create around 400 jobs in Scotland.

Mr Hoon also used his visit to announce a that General Dynamics (UK) led consortium is the preferred bidder for one of the government's defence technology centres.

"We have also selected them to be the preferred bidder for a 300 million Battlefield Information Management System.

"CIP, as it is known, will build on the Bowman platform giving our troops the modern digital information management systems they need to outpace and outfight their enemies," said Mr Hoon.

Field trials for the Bowman system start next summer and it should come into service in early 2004.

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.

The MoD began considering replacements two decades ago, but it took a radical review of army procurement to ensure the process was speeded up.

The replacement will use the latest digital technology.

The contract will include delivery of more than 48,000 radios and 30,000 computers.


More from south east Wales
See also:

19 Jul 01 | Wales
19 Jul 01 | Politics
30 May 01 | Wales
25 Feb 00 | UK
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