Army awards $3.9 billion deal for Rifleman radios

Army Rifleman radio Nett Warrior

A soldier uses the Rifleman radio and Nett Warrior system last year in Afghanistan.

The Army has awarded a maximum $3.9 billion contract to two companies to trigger full-rate production of Rifleman radios, the handheld, software-defined systems that deliver tactical communications to soldiers in the field.

Thales Defense & Security and Harris will compete for orders under the 10-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, which ultimately could deliver nearly 200,000 of the radios.

Rifleman radios are a key component in the Army’s plans to extend situational awareness to soldiers the tactical edge of the network. The lightweight, body-worn device acts as its own router, can connect to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, transmits voice and data via the Soldier Radio Waveform and can link to Nett Warrior, a system that uses Android smartphones for situational awareness, messaging and other applications. Rifleman radios will be included in the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit program, which supports all of the military services.

The Rifleman has been in low-rate initial production, under which the Army bought 21,379 radios from a General Dynamics/Thales team. Those radios currently are supporting troops with the Capability Set 13 network package as well as other brigaded teams as part of Capability Set 14. In a solicitation issued in May 2014, the Army said it ultimately expects to field 193,276 Rifleman radios.

When it issued that solicitation, the Army said it planned to create a “radio marketplace,” with awards to multiple vendors that would compete for orders. It chose Thales and Harris after receiving three bids.

Thales and Harris also were among four companies—Exelis and Genneral Dynamics C4 Systems were the others—given a spot last year on a maximum $988 million contract for Soldier Radio Waveform Appliqué radio systems, which are single-channel systems mounted on vehicles that don’t require the two-channel Manpack systems.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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