WASHINGTON — The Army has awarded a full-rate production contract for a series of tactical radios critical to allowing forces multiple options for communication in a highly congested and dynamic operating environment.
The orders are for the 2-channel Manpack and Leader radios, according to an Army release, and will support the service’s overarching network modernization strategy — the unified network — by providing communications options and flexibility to upgrade waveforms as new technology emerges.
As the Army modernizes its tactical network, service leaders have said the need to be resilient and have multiple paths of communication is critical. They anticipate adversaries will seek to jam or deny communications, meaning forces will need reliable alternatives to communicate and pass data back-and-forth in a dispersed manner on the battlefield.
The Manpack radio award, worth approximately $226.5 million, is for 2,320 radios from L3Harris Technologies and 1,547 radios from Collins Aerospace. The Leader radio award totals $118.7 million and includes 2,498 radios from L3Harris and 1,096 radios from Thales.
The Manpack radios provide beyond line-of-sight capability using the Mobile User Objective System, which allows for global voice calls over the radio through satellite communications. This allows units to be more dispersed and communicate over farther distances — something leaders say will be key to taking on near-peer adversaries.
The Army has been using a series of experiments over the last few years with 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division as part of its modernized tactical network approach, which includes the incremental delivery of capabilities every two years under what it calls capability sets. Capability Set ‘21 sets the baseline for the network going forward.
The radio purchases allow the Army to field this capability set to multiple infantry brigades with 25th Infantry Division, 2nd Cavalry Regiment Stryker brigade combat team, while also supporting the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model as well as tactical satellite modernization efforts, the service said.
Both radios have been fielded as part of Capability Set ‘21, and four brigades as well as some security force assistance brigades have received them to date. Additionally, the radios were used by 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division during a training exercise in the Indo-Pacific theater.
“Full-rate production of these radios across the force will provide our warfighters with the most advanced radio network capabilities available for enhanced situational awareness, which is critical for mission success,” said Col. Garth Winterle, project manager for tactical radios with Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical.
Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.