Racal Communications Inc., a Rockville company that specializes in building classified electronic equipment for the military, has been awarded a $12.5 million Air Force contract to produce a new combat radio for use by ground troops, the company announced yesterday.
The award is just the first step in what is expected to be a seven-year contract totaling $215 million. It is one of the largest contracts in the 30-year history of the Montgomery County company, said Mitch Herbets, program manager of the radio contract.
Mr. Herbets said he would expect the award to create some jobs, but added that it is still too soon to say how many.
Most of the Racal Communications' operations are automated, he said, and the current work force totals about 150.
The company said the new radios, designated the Scope Shield II, will be used by the Air Force security police, reserve units, medical services operations and other Defense Department units worldwide.
Mr. Herbets described the Scope Shield system as a ground combat radio "similar to a rugged walkie-talkie" that can be carried by troops.
He described it as a "secure system," meaning that enemy forces could not tap into the conversation.
The production contract calls for lightweight hand-held radios, base stations, vehicle adapters, and tactical repeaters that can extend the radios' range.
The contract did not specify how many units will be produced.
"It's a nice, stable contract that could produce steady work over the next seven years," Mr. Herbets said.