PARIS, April 19 (UPI) -- The French government is giving Thales Communications a $344.7 million contract to develop a new software-defined tactical radio.
French Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Gerard Longuet said the radio system would be deployed with the country's military forces beginning in 2018.
"I welcome this decision, which is part of an ambitious set of programs defined by the military planning law to modernize the equipment of the armed forces," he said. "The launch of the Contact program is necessary and cannot suffer any delays related to economic conditions."
Contact is part of the government's Scorpion program to replace and modernization of the equipment of battle groups, including armored vehicles.
Tactical radios in Phase One of Contact will used by dismounted infantry and armored vehicles deployed on operations. Phase Two communications gear will also equip combat, intelligence and transport aircraft as well as naval ships.
In both cases, the software-defined gear would be interoperable with communications systems of allied countries.