WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army selected a CACI International-owned company to prototype a jammer that soldiers can carry and use on foot to spy on electronic signals.

The preliminary deal with Mastodon Design for the Terrestrial Layer System-Brigade Combat Team Manpack effort is worth $1.5 million and runs for nine months, the service’s Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors said Sept. 15. The contract award follows a half-year of white paper submissions and technical evaluations.

The TLS-BCT Manpack is meant to give troops on the move a means of conducting electronic warfare and signals intelligence. It is a smaller offshoot of the TLS-BCT, to be installed aboard Stryker combat vehicles, and the even beefier TLS-Echelons Above Brigade, envisioned for use by larger formations including divisions and corps.

The fledgling kit complements TLS-BCT and -EAB “with a shared and open systems approach that creates the flexibility and efficiencies needed against a highly adaptive threat,” according to Kenneth Strayer, project manager for electronic warfare and cyber at PEO IEW&S.

The Army is reinvesting in electronic warfare — and manipulation of the electromagnetic spectrum — after years of divestment. Contracts for the TLS family have so far totaled tens of millions of dollars.

The manpack variant is expected to move from prototype to production in fiscal 2024, according to the Army.

New York-based Mastodon Design was purchased by information-technology specialist CACI in 2019 for $225 million.

CACI in 2022 reaped $4.3 billion in defense-related revenue, earning it the No. 27 spot on the Defense News “Top 100″ list of the world’s largest defense contractors.

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.

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