The Army has awarded Harris Corp. and Thales Defense a much anticipated radio contract that leaders say is critical for mission command on contested battlefields in the future.

The two-channel leader software-defined radio will allow commanders on the ground to switch frequencies if one is being jammed by adversaries. The Army said it plans to exercise a delivery order for 1,540 Leader Radio sets and 338 vehicular mounting kits. The value of the order was not immediately clear.

“This is an important step in providing critical tactical communications capabilities that are interoperable and effective in a contested electronic warfare environment,” Col. Garth Winterle, project manager for tactical radios, said in a Sept. 21 Army release.

Army leaders have described the radios as critical to the Army’s overall network modernization strategy. The contract allows for annual orders and for the easy integration of new capabilities.

“The award of the two-channel Leader radio contract is an important milestone in the modernization of the Army’s tactical network and Harris is honored to be part of it,” Dana Mehnert, President, Harris Communication Systems, said.

Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told reporters in March that these types of radios have shown themselves to be able to run a wide range of waveforms. This has proven to be a critical feature as the Army considers more advanced, harder-to-jam waveforms for the future. This could be especially important in electronic warfare as adversaries make strides in their jamming and sensing abilities within the electromagnetic spectrum.

The two-channel Leader radio will also be a key component of what the Army is calling the integrated tactical network, which focuses on a simplified, independent, mobile network solution at the battalion level. That solution is intended to provide network availability down to the small unit dismounted leader for better mission command, situational awareness and air-to-ground integration.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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