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12 May 05. Chris Jenkins reports that the ADF is set to buy 6000 new personal radios for soldiers following a successful trial of the units last year.

The radios, which will be supplied to regular infantry battalions, will come with headsets and remote push-to-talk buttons that can be attached to weapons and other pieces of equipment.

The acquisition program comes after a successful trial using 1000 radios with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, last year. Trial units, which operate on a secure version of the civilian 802.11 wireless protocol, were supplied by Marconi.

“The radios acquired during 2004 and the new radios will be interoperable,” a Defence spokesman said.

Undertaken within the “Wundurra” soldier combat system program, the trial “was intended to confirm the expected benefits of soldier personal radios, to initiate the development of tactics, techniques and procedures to better inform procurement”, the spokesman said.

In February, Defence Minister Senator Robert Hill announced that more radios would be bought as part of a $35 million acquisition program that also included protective equipment, helmets and load carrying gear. It’s understood that 360 extra Marconi radios were purchased under a special rapid acquisition program in order to supply Australian troops based in Iraq. The new units will be purchased through an open request for tender issued by Defence this week. Marconi is understood to be making a bid for the new program, with Motorola and Israeli group Teleran also expected to submit proposals.

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