General Dynamics is part of a team awarded a $295 million government contract Monday to develop software-based radios to improve communication between soldiers across military branches and improve the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles and other drone systems.
The company's Scottsdale-based C4 Division will lead and manage the Joint Tactical Radio System Cluster 5 program, developing and manufacturing flexible radio technology. The goal of the project is to replace traditional radios and allow a single device to be programmed with communication software.
General Dynamics spokeswoman Fran Jacques said that currently only platoon leaders and those in higher positions carry radios, which require upgrades and replacements after time. This project would not only outfit soldiers with devices but eliminate much of the need for replacement.
“If the radio needs to be upgraded, the radio itself doesn't have to be replaced. This is a real break-through. This is a leap forward,” Jacques said.
The project will create communication devices that are the size of a CD case, providing lightweight, portable devices that require minimal power to operate.
The contract could result in the development of 14 applications using an advanced software-based radio core the size of a credit card, she said.
In addition to General Dynamics, project members include Wayne, N.J.-based BAE Systems, Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Thales Communications of Clarksburg, Md.
Numerous companies across the nation are contributing technology to the project, including Tempe's Datasoft.
With an initial three-year term, the contract will likely continue through 2011 and have a value of more than $1 billion to be shared among the firms.
Jacques said the award is significant for both General Dynamics and its Scottsdale division.
"This is the largest radio contract we've ever had. . . .We'll be busy with Cluster 5 for many, many years," Jacques said.