Special Operations Command drops $390 million on sole-source tactical radios contracts

This story was updated to include a comment from Harris Corp.

The Special Operations Command signed sole-source contracts with Harris Corp. and Thales Communications Inc., worth a maximum of $390 million for improved versions of their handheld and backpack tactical radio systems.

In a related development, the Army said it plans to hold an industry day for procurement of up to 5,000 Joint Tactical Radio System vehicle radios on April 13 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

SOCOM announced the award of the Harris and Thales Radio contracts on April 2 in a justification and approval notice and said the radios must meet its mission requirements until it completes a planned Next-Generation Tactical Radio procurement.

Harris will provide SOCOM with its handheld AN/PRC-152 radio, which operates in the 30-512 MHz frequency range and supports both terrestrial and satellite communications. SOCOM also tapped Harris to supply it with the company's AN/PRC-117G backpack radio, which supports terrestrial communications from 30-512 MHz and wideband satellite communications from 225 MHz up to 2GHz.

Thales will supply SOCOM with its an upgraded version of its AN/PRC-148 handheld radio, which is fitted with security modules that encrypt communications up to the Top Secret level and also runs JTRS software waveforms, which manage frequency, modulation and bandwidth. The AN/PRC-148 operates in the 30-512 MHz frequency range, and like the Harris radios, supports both terrestrial and satellite communications.

A Harris spokesman said the company's handheld and backpack radios also include encryption chips to support Top Secret communiations.

The Army said will detail its plans to fast-track procurement for up to 5,000 vehicle radios that run the JTRS soldier radio waveform for both handheld and backpack radios at its industry day later this month. The Army said in February that the new vehicle radio will connect the foxhole to brigade tactical operations centers and operate with radio systems that link the brigade to the wide-area satellite and terrestrial battlefield communications system known as Warfighter Information Network-Tactical.

The Army plans to award an initial contract for the vehicle radio to one or more bidders this August.