ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (April 29, 2015) -- The U.S. Army today announced that it awarded contracts to two vendors -- Harris Corporation and Thales Defense and Security Incorporated -- for its Handheld, Manpack and Small-form Fit (HMS) Rifleman Radio.

The awards are part of the Army's full and open competition radio marketplace approach for the Full Rate Production (FRP) phase of the program.

Each vendor will produce 50 radios, which will undergo laboratory tests to determine if threshold requirements have been met. If the vendor meets qualifications, then its radios will move to the next phase, an operational evaluation. If the vendor does not meet qualifications, then the vendor will be off-ramped.

Vendors that are found to be qualified through testing will then compete to fill delivery orders as needed by the Army.

The contract is structured as a five-year base ordering period, plus a five-year optional ordering period multiple award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ). Under the competitive Non-Developmental Item (NDI) strategy, additional vendors will have an opportunity to on-ramp if their technologies mature after the initial competition and operational tests.

With each new generation, the Army plans to procure radios with better capabilities, including faster processors, increased power and battery life and decreased weight. FRP fielding is scheduled to begin in Fiscal Year 2017.

"By working closely with our requirements and contracting teams, these contract awards are a critical step in moving closer toward Full Rate Production of the Rifleman Radio. Using the non-developmental item strategy, we are hoping to procure superior radios at lower costs, relying on a competitive, innovative radio marketplace," said Colonel Jim Ross, Project Manager Tactical Radios. "These radios are key in closing the information gap on the battlefield."

The Rifleman Radio is a lightweight, hand-held radio that transmits voice and data past terrain obstacles and beyond line of sight via the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW). Carried by Soldiers at the platoon, squad and team levels, the Rifleman Radio uses the SRW to transmit information up and down the chain of command, as well as into the network backbone provided by the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T).

The Rifleman Radio can also be linked to the Nett Warrior, using a secure Android phone type device that enables Soldiers to send messages, access mission-related applications and track one another's locations with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

Through Low Rate Initial Production, the Army has already purchased 21,379 Rifleman Radios. The Army has been authorized to purchase up to 171,933 radios through the FRP phase of the program. The Rifleman Radio is a critical component of Lower Tactical Internet (LTI) communication architecture, which is part of the Army's Capability Set (CS) fielding strategy.