The U.S. Army is ordering second-generation manpack radios from L3Harris Technologies and Collins Aerospace worth $203.2 million, ahead of a forthcoming operational test that will inform a full-rate production decision next fiscal year.

The Army said April 29 it awarded a negotiated bilateral firm-fixed-price delivery orders to Collins, of Iowa, and L3Harris, of New York, for a total of 3,440 (1,720 each) radios and ancillaries. Delivery, which is part of its third low-rate production order, are to begin in the first quarter of fiscal 2021.

The radios are a key element to what the service calls the integrated tactical network, the concept behind the Army’s modernized battlefield network which will incrementally add capabilities units every two years beginning in 2021.

The orders will support the ITN and tactical satellite modernization efforts, as well as security force assistance brigades and future deployments, according to the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).

L3Harris announced it received a $95 million low-rate initial production order for AN/PRC-158 multi-channel radios, while Collins said it received an order for its AN/PRC-162 ground radios, worth the remaining value of the award―about $108 million. Both fall under the five-year HMS (Handheld, Manpack & Small Form-Fit) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, which has a $12.7 billion ceiling and a five-year extension option for the Army.

“L3Harris is proud to deliver the most critical part of the U.S. Army’s Integrated Tactical Network, enabling secure multi-mission capability in the most challenging and contested environments,” said Dana Mehnert, L3Harris’s president for communication systems. “The AN/PRC-158 will equip soldiers with cutting-edge waveforms, providing resilient SATCOM and advanced wideband networking at the tactical edge.”

In a statement, Ryan Bunge, Collins Aerospace’s vice president and general manager for communication, navigation and guidance solutions, said "our ground radio gives warfighters access to the most advanced networked communication technology available, ultimately leading to improved situational awareness and mission success. We’ve delivered superior communications capabilities with our airborne radios for decades, and we’ve leveraged that expertise to provide a complete, interoperable solution for both ground and air assets at the lowest life cycle cost.”

Joe Gould is the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He served previously as Congress reporter.

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