WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army recently selected two companies to furnish voice and data radios as part of a broader effort to move away from aging assets and better secure military networks and communications.

L3Harris Technologies and Thales Defense and Security were selected for the potential $6.1 billion combat net radio contract March 25.

More than 1,100 radios — including those to be used for quality checks and preliminary testing — have been ordered, according to the Army’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical.

L3Harris secured $20.6 million of the initial delivery order; Thales, $18.2 million. Orders can be made through March 2032, the networks office said in a statement.

The combat net radio is a single channel radio that will help phase out older Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, or SINCGARS, radios that are widely used.

As U.S. competition against advanced adversaries — like Russia or China — heats up, so do concerns about the efficacy of legacy systems. The combat net radio will be able to handle SINCGARS waveform improvements, including enhancements to voice quality and electronic-warfare protection.

The new radio program supports Department of Defense and National Security Agency cryptographic goals, according to the Army, as well as a unified network strategy by providing assured command and control voice as well as limited fires and air defense data in compromised situations.

“Thanks to software-defined capabilities, the CNR effort will support the new, resilient waveforms that are either in development or under consideration as part of our efforts to prepare for future modernization,” said Lt. Col. Sherida Whindleton, a product manager for waveforms assigned to Project Manager Tactical Radios.

The Army hopes to field the first CNR units in fiscal year 2024, pending certifications.

“CNR is a critical enabler of multipath diversity and for continued network modernization at the tactical edge,” said Col. Garth Winterle, project manager for tactical radios. “The reprogrammable nature of CNR radios lends itself to the Army’s capability set approach and the ability to upgrade over time.”

The radio will be available on both mounted and dismounted missions, according to the Army.

In a 2020 request for information shared by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, the Army announced it was weighing a new radio solution or tech upgrades for its Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System.

The service wanted to know more about industry capabilities for upgrading the SINCGARS to include new frequency-hopping capabilities, among other things, C4ISRNET previously reported.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

More In IT/Networks