Paris – The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) procurement office awarded to Thales a first-stage contract for a new-generation software-defined radio, dubbed Contact, which has a total value of 1.06 billion euros ($1.33 billion), the procurement office said.
“In line with the decision by defense minister Jean-Yves Drian, the DGA awarded June 21 to Thales the first stage of the Contact (communications numériques tactiques et de théatre) program worth 1.06 billion euros,” the procurement office said in a statement.
The first stage development work is worth 263 million euros, Thales said in a statement. That amount covers the first tranche of the contract with conditional amounts to follow, a DGA spokesman said.
The Contact radio is intended to replace the PR4G tactical radio with a system offering higher capabilities in bandwidth, security and interoperability.
“Contact is a high value technology project with a strong export potential which could capitalize the PR4G’s great success in a number of countries,” the DGA said. Development and production of the new radio would safeguard the competences of more than 2,000 staff, the office said.
“The Contact programme is strategically important for the French armed forces and key to France’s national sovereignty, and it also provides a solid framework for the future development of software-defined radio at the international level,” Thales CEO Luc Vigneron said in the company statement.
The first stage is intended to deliver, from 2018, 2,400 vehicle-mounted and 2,000 portable units to equip two combined amphibious brigades and naval vessels.
A second stage will equip combat, reconnaissance and transport aircraft with a new capacity for air-ground communications.
A third stage is aimed at meeting all aeronautical needs and equipping naval ships operating in a naval force.
Contact will draw on work done under the European secure software defined radio program led by the European Defense Agency (EDA), the DGA said. Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden have worked under the EDA-led program.