Army awards radio contracts aimed at improving security and connectivity

Staff Sgt. Jacob Rascon, right, and Sgt. David Hendrixson, both assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), analyze prototyped cyber field equipment during Cyber Quest 2019. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. TaMaya Eberhart, 55th Combat Camera)

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The Army has awarded contracts to two companies for the initial delivery of combat net radios. The initiative is meant to further secure and modernize tactical networks and communications, the service said in a Monday release.

The indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts provide for an initial delivery of over 1,100 radios, to include those for first article test. They were awarded to L3Harris, $20.6 million, and Thales, $18.2 million. The effort has a ceiling of $6.1 billion and delivery orders can be placed until March 2032.

The combat net radio (CNR) is a single channel voice and data system that is part of a larger effort to phase out the legacy Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, or SINCGARS. Another component of the SINCGARS modernization strategy is fielding HMS Manpack and Leader tactical data radios and cryptographic device modernization.

As adversaries have become more technologically sophisticated in recent years, legacy waveforms and cryptology have to be modernized as they are easier to be interfered with.

The new combat net radio enhances frequency hopping and transmission security. Once fielded, it will be available for both mounted and dismounted missions, according to the Army.

“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,” Lt. Col. Sherida Whindleton, product manager for waveforms at Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, said.

Furthermore, the radios will provide assured command and control voice as well as limited fires and air defense data where access to other network assets might be degraded, which allows commanders multiple paths of communication.

As the Army modernizes its tactical network, one of the key tenets is providing multiple and redundant paths of communication and data in case one is unavailable due to adversary activity or failure, which is known in Army parlance as PACE, or primary, alternate, contingency and emergency.

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

First unit equipped with the new radios is expected in fiscal 2024 following first article test and National Security Agency certification.

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Army, integrated tactical network, Program Executive Officer for Command Control Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), radio, tactical network
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