The US Navy has awarded a contract to ITT Corporation to supply 1,450 Iridium-based handheld tactical satellite communication devices for US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the $9.7m contract, the company will produce and deliver the distributed tactical communications systems (DTCS) – radio only (RO) transceivers.

The push-to-talk radios will provide over-the-horizon, beyond-line-of-sight tactical networks connectivity for the frontline war-fighters using the Iridium satellite network.

The DTCS-RO handsets are lightweight radios that can be easily used without any deployed infrastructure.

The in-orbit upgrades to the satellites and ground infrastructure being made by Iridium Corporation will expand the footprint of DTCS nets from 100 to 250 miles, and also permits more than 2,000 nets to be activated simultaneously on the satellite network.

Deliveries of the DTCS-RO transceivers are scheduled for March 2010.