NSA awards L-3 Communications secure mobile phone contract

The National Security Agency has awarded L-3 Communications an $18 million contract to develop a secure mobile device for converged voice and data communications.

Awarded under NSA's Secure Mobile Environment program, the contract calls for L-3 to develop Type 1 portable electronic devices to support classified information. L-3 is the second company to get a contract under the program. General Dynamics won the first award in August, also valued at $18 million.

According to Wikipedia, a Type 1 product is defined as a 'classified or controlled cryptographic item endorsed by the NSA for securing classified and sensitive U.S. government information, when appropriately keyed. The term refers only to products and not to information, key, services or controls. Type 1 products contain classified NSA algorithms.'

The two companies will develop a combined mobile telephone and personal digital assistant that could support e-mail, Internet access and file viewing similar to commercial devices, such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry or Palm's Treo devices. Workers at the Defense Department and other government agencies will use the NSA-developed devices.

L-3 'will leverage recent investments in cryptographic technology as well as our experience and expertise in applying the U.S. government's Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal and High Assurance [IP] Interoperability Specification protocols while executing this critical program,' said Greg Roberts, president of the company's Communications Systems-East division in Camden, N.J., in a press release.

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