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The MOD says this latest upgrade in land-based radio capabilities will improve battlefield effectiveness (Picture: MOD).
Weapons and Kit

All the gen on the new British military battlefield radio

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The MOD says this latest upgrade in land-based radio capabilities will improve battlefield effectiveness (Picture: MOD).

A new Ministry of Defence deal will see 1,300 L3Harris Falcon IV multi-channel handheld radios operated by foot soldiers or mounted on vehicles.

L3 Harris Communications Systems has been awarded the contract for the radios by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in a deal worth £90m.

The MOD says this latest upgrade in land-based radio capabilities will improve battlefield effectiveness and support more than 200 jobs in Hampshire.

Defence Procurement Minister Alex Chalk said: "It's vital we equip our Armed Forces personnel with modern capabilities to maintain their operational effectiveness on an ever-changing battlefield.

"This contract boosts our interoperability with allies and is yet another example of British companies and employees supporting British defence."

L3 Harris says its radios will increase the British Army's ability to operate with other Nato allies and partners, boosting communications capabilities wherever personnel are deployed worldwide.

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British Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) using a handheld radio talking with Apache pilot in Oman (Picture: MOD).

What is the name of the new British military radio?

The lightweight radio is called the L3Harris Falcon® IV AN/PRC-163 Multi-Channel Handheld.

It's a dual-channel radio which can be used in many roles, including ground-to-ground, air-to-ground, and beyond-line-of-sight (satellite communications) with aircraft and other ground forces.

Who uses the L3Harris AN/PRC-163 radio?

The AN/PRC-163 radio has already been widely adopted by the US Army, US Marine Corps, US Special Operations Command, US Air Force, and a growing number of Nato allies, now including the United Kingdom.

What can the AN/PRC-163 radio be used for?

The radio can be used for voice communications, sending, and receiving data and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) video, which means ground forces can receive real-time footage and images of what any surveillance aircraft are seeing on the ground.

The radio can also be used for beyond-line-of-site (satellite) communications worldwide.

It can also operate within Electronic Warfare environments providing operators protection from detection, interception and jamming, and has a built-in Global Positioning System for situational awareness.

When will the British Armed Forces receive the AN/PRC-163 radio?

The first batch of radios is being delivered to the British Army before the end of 2022 and further deliveries are set for 2023.

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Members of the US Army operating the AN/PRC-163 radio during training at the Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany (Picture: Alamy).

What is the size and dimension of the AN/PRC-163 radio?

Height 15.24cm x width 7.62cm x depth 5.08cm

Weight, including battery, 2.75lbs (1.13kg)

The new radio will come coated in khaki green coloured CARC paint, which is a Chemical Agent Resistant Coating, to protect the device against chemical and biological weapons, which is said to enable the radio to be easily decontaminated after any attack.

The lighter AN/PRC-163 will likely replace some of the much heavier Bowman radios, currently in service with the British Armed Forces.

When Bowman was first introduced into service, the system was said to contain many faults to the extent that some British troops dubbed Bowman 'Better Off With Map And Nokia'.