Thales has received a 10-year contract to deliver the first two-channel handheld radios for Army battlefield communications under the Leader Radio program, the company said on Thursday.

The Army has placed an initial order for 1,540 of Thales’ AN/PRC-148C IMBITR radios, which will be delivered under the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract alongside Harris [HRS] Corporation’s AN/PRC-163 two-channel handheld radios. Harris said Sept. 20 it had been selected for the Army’s Leader radio program as well, and also received an initial order for 1,540 systems.

Soldier in Army's Security Force Assistance Brigade uses Thales' IMBITR radio. Photo: Thales.
Soldier in Army’s Security Force Assistance Brigade uses Thales’ IMBITR radio. Photo: Thales.

“As the first to engineer a 2-channel handheld networking radio, Thales has perfected the IMBITR to enable Soldiers to fully leverage battlefield networks, while creating superior interoperability with other connected devices. The IMBITR solution enables redundancy and resiliency while maintaining ground-to-ground and ground-to-air communications providing Soldiers with significantly improved communications giving them the tactical advantage necessary to achieve mission success,” Thales’ officials said in a statement.

The Leader Radio program, part of the Army’s tactical network modernization strategy, looks to find two-channel handheld radios needed to provide mounted and dismounted beyond line of sight communications capabilities to soldiers in the battlefield.

Both Harris and Thales have been previously selected to provide single-channel radios to the Army.

The new two-channel radios allow soldiers to conduct voice and data communications simultaneously, eliminating the need to carry around a pair of separate radios.

Thales’ IMBITR radios are embedded with the TrellisWare TSM waveform to enable the two-channel functions, and officials said the system is the smallest, lightest on the market.

“Thales is pleased to be supporting the Army on this critical program in partnership with TrellisWare,” Mike Sheehan, CEO of Thales Defense and Security, said in a statement. “Together, we have once again demonstrated our first-to-market leadership in delivering the world’s first 2-channel handheld radio which will provide our soldiers with overmatch capability through network connectivity and improved situational awareness.”

The Army awarded Thales a $37 million deal in December to supply IMBITR radios to its Security Force Assistance Brigades.

Harris has also delivered its AN/PRC-163 to U.S. Special Operations Command, and officials pointed to the system’s modularity, which provides data and situational awareness through Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking applications, VHF/UHF line-of-sight, and traditional SATCOM.

“The AN/PRC-163 is the most advanced software-defined handheld radio in the world today and will provide our warfighters and commanders with unprecedented capabilities, including enhanced levels of command and control, and situational awareness,” Dana Mehnert, president of Harris Communication Systems, said in a statement. “The award of the two-channel Leader radio contract is an important milestone in the modernization of the Army’s tactical network and Harris is honored to be part of it.”