The Pentagon on Friday announced plans to spend $6.1 billion to modernize Army command and control radios, more than the cost of a new Virginia-class attack submarine.
Two defense contractors, Thales Defense and Security Inc., of Clarksburg, Maryland, and L3Harris Technologies Inc., of Rochester, New York, will compete for the radio modernization program, the Defense Department said in a contract announcement.
The upgrade program for the Army’s Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System — or SINCGARS — radios is based on a National Security Agency cryptosecurity modernization requirement, the announcement said.
The radio modernization will be completed by 2032.
The Army uses more than 570,000 SINCGARS radios mounted in vehicles or carried by troops that provide security for command and control for forces, and communications with air and naval forces.
The radios are hardened against nuclear blast-produced electromagnetic pulse and electronic jamming capabilities.
The Army’s request for information on SINCGARS said the upgrade will “use the existing radio ancillaries as much as possible for the upgraded platforms.”
The upgraded radios will be used for combat “fires and missile defense,” the request stated.
A congressional Government Accountability Office report last year said the Pentagon has not implemented three different strategies to ensure its communications would survive in a confrontation involving expected Chinese or Russian electronic warfare attacks.
“The interruption of U.S. forces’ access to the spectrum can result in a military disadvantage, preventing U.S. forces from operating as planned and desired,” the report said.
An earlier GAO report from 2008 said the Pentagon spent about $12 billion on tactical radios during the previous five years, “about as much as was spent producing Virginia-Class submarines ($10.8 billion) in the same period.”
The current cost of a Virginia-class submarine is around $3.5 billion.
“Survivability and lethality in warfare are increasingly dependent on superior information and communication capabilities,” the second GAO report said.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at email@example.com.
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