The Tacter-31A rugged handheld personal digital assistants are capable of providing situational awareness in a handheld or vehicle-mounted operation with use of the embedded military Global Positioning System (GPS) and tactical modems.An army is only as good as its field computers. That’s the thinking of the U.S. Marines anyway, who have selected an Israeli-developed battle-reinforced handheld computer to distribute to its troops in Iraq and elsewhere.

Tadiran Communications said its Florida-based subsidiary Talla-Tech won two contracts worth a combined $11.5 million to supply the Tacter-31A Rugged Handheld Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) to the US Marines. The contracts add to $15 million orders Talla-Tech had previously received for its rugged palm computers from the U.S. armed forces.

Tadiran says these orders, and others for thousands of tactical computers for supply to the U.S. and other armed forces, place Talla-Tech at the forefront in the ruggedized personal computers sphere. TheTacter-31A, the subject of the latest order, is a version of the PDA suitable for harsh ground conditions, with a tactical modem allowing communications via military communicators.

The navigation capacity of the PDAs, which weigh less than a kilogram, is based on an installed GPS receiver. The modem allows soldiers in the field to receive updated reports on the status of the battle and his own location, as well as the location of friendly and enemy forces. It also enables communications between the forces and the command echelon.

The Tacter is “basically a Compaq iPAQ on steroids,” according to Talla-Tech spokesman Jim English. With the PDAs’ modular design, hardware and software can be reconfigured for specific missions. The PDAs will be used for a variety of applications by end users in both the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army. It’s capable of providing situational awareness in a handheld or vehicle-mounted operation with use of the embedded military Global Positioning System (GPS) and tactical modems. The rugged computers will be delivered over a period of six months beginning in July.

Besides their internal battery, these rugged PDAs feature external military or commercial battery capability to provide over 30 hours of operation, which is quite an enviable standard for the civilian PDA user. The devices run Microsoft’s Pocket PC 2002 operating system and feature commercial off-the-shelf technology for easy availability and cost containment.

Unlike conventional PDAs, however, they can survive a drop of up to six feet and resist water leakage down to one meter. The military devices allow even gloved soldiers in chemical or biological warfare suits to easily handle the units, and if capture is imminent, sensitive data can be quickly deleted.

“Thousands of our RPDAs have been supplied to U.S. and other armed forces throughout the world,” Hezi Hermoni, president and CEO of Tadiran Communications, said in a statement. The awards are a result of the company’s R&D investments and positioning worldwide as a prime supplier of rugged computers and communications terminals, he added.

The order for the Marines comes on the heels of a previous $12 million award to supply RPDAs to various branches of the U.S. military, the company said. The Israel Ministry of Defense (MoD) also recently awarded a tender for the supply of 1,000 rugged pocket-size computers, similar to the RPDAs ordered by the United States, along with accessories, it added.

RPDAs that can function in harsh field environments and withstand electro-magnetic and radio frequency interference can provide soldiers increased situational awareness and secure, immune communications, the company said. The pocket-sized computers offer navigation, tactical digital messaging, remote radio control, GPS, wireless local area network (LAN) and Bluetooth capabilities, it added.

The unit has a modular design that is suitable for use in bright daylight and can be modified for specific missions. The RPDA can be configured to provide pilots with flight data and pre-flight checklists, while enabling communications with ATE systems for pre-flight inspection tests.

According to PocketPC’s Barry Shilmover, Talla-Tech is currently the leading supplier of Pocket PC-based Rugged PDAs for tactical military operations.

“Their success lies in the agility of its team in listening to a customer’s unique needs and producing new solutions quickly. Since the R-PDA’s introduction just over one year ago into military markets, Talla-Tech has produced five variants of the original model, has launched a commercial derivative of the unit and is preparing to introduce other models that build on the success of the first. Talla-Tech has introduced a multi-dimensional barcode scanner attachment, integrated spread-spectrum radios and other technologies in response to various customer demands.”

Tadiran Communications Ltd., is recognized worldwide for its advanced, field proven integrated communications and computer solutions for the modern battlefield. Tadiran Communications’ products address every echelon, from the individual fighting soldier through the squad and platoon up to the division and corps level. Its products deliver the reliability essential for the combat arena and are offered in every configuration demanded by battlefield units. More than three decades of experience support Tadiran’s ranking as a leader in its field, with equipment and systems deployed in the Israel Defense Forces, the US Armed Forces and the armies of over 40 nations.

Tallahassee Technologies, Inc. (Talla-Tech). is a wholly owned subsidiary of Talla-Com, Tallahassee Communications Industries, Incorporated (Talla-Com) both of which are located in Tallahassee, Florida with more than 85,000 square feet of ultra-modern manufacturing and design facilities. Both companies are leaders in the design, development and production of military and commercial communications equipment, rugged military computers and rugged personal digital assistants.