Army asks Thales and L3Harris to upgrade SINCGARS military radios as part of encryption modernization

March 28, 2022
Companies will compete for orders to modernize SINCGARS radios to align with the National Security Agency crypto modernization requirements.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – U.S. Army battlefield communications specialists are choosing two major U.S. manufacturers of military radios to update the venerable Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) to improve the radio's performance against near-peer adversaries.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., announced a potential total $6.1 billion contract Friday to Thales Defense and Security Inc. in Clarksburg, Md.; and to the L3Harris Technologies Inc. Integrated Communications Solutions segment in Rochester, N.Y., to modernize SINCGARS radios to align with U.S. National Security Agency crypto modernization requirements.

Thales and L3Harris will compete for orders over the next 10 years to modernize SINCGARS radios to align with the National Security Agency crypto modernization requirements.

SINCGARS is a combat networked radio for voice and data communications that comes in vehicle-mount, backpack, airborne, and handheld versions. Designed in the 1980s the radio uses rapid frequency hopping to maintain signals security.

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These nearly-40-year-old military radios have grown long in the tooth, however, and military experts doubt their ability to operate effectively against powerful potential adversaries like Russia, China, and other industrialized nations without substantial upgrades.

That's where Thales and L3Harris come in. Thales and L3Harris will consider new-frequency hopping capabilities and cryptographic modernization that includes Tactical Secure Voice Cryptographic Interoperability Specification (TSVCIS) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256, experts say.

Of primary interest to the Army is upgrading the service’s single- and dual-mounted vehicle radios and personal radio manpack. Army leaders say they plan to use SINCGARS radios to support fires and air defense in contested environments where data capabilities are limited.

SINCGARS uses 25 kHz channels in the very high frequency (VHF) FM band, from 30 to 87.975 MHz. It offers single-frequency mode, as well as frequency hopping mode that hops 111 times a second.

Related: Military crypto modernization leads to applications like smartphones, tablet computers on the battlefield

ITT Corp. originally developed the SINCGARS beginning in 1983. ITT became Exelis Inc. in 2011, and Harris Corp. acquired Exelis in 2015, bringing the legacy SINCGARS line into Harris. The merger of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies into L3Harris was completed in 2019.

On this contract L3Harris and Thales will do the work at locations to be determined with each order, and should be finished by March 2032.

For more information contact Thales Defense and Security online at, L3Harris Technologies Integrated Communications Solutions at, or the Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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