Army: Iraqi militants can't crack tactical radios

Anti-U.S. militants in Iraq cannot crack the Army's tactical radio systems, the Army said, despite reports that Hezbollah forces in Lebanon were able to hack into similar radios that the Israeli soldiers used during battles this summer.

According to a report last month in Newsday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) "mostly rely" on the same Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars) technology that the U.S. Army uses in Iraq.

News outlets worldwide and blogs have picked up this article, but James Bowden, Sincgars project manager at the Army Communications-Electronics Command, said the report was not accurate.

Bowden said the IDF does not use Sincgars, although their radios, like Sincgars, do use frequency-hopping technology. Frequency-hopping radios use an algorithm to continually switch transmitted frequencies to minimize unauthorized interception or jamming of a radio transmission. But the radios used by the IDF do not use the same algorithm, he said.

The IDF radios also do not use the same communications and transmission security devices. “All three provide robust protection for U.S. Sincgars,” Bowden said.

Tadiran of Israel had a contract to produce Sincgars radios for U.S. forces, according to a company press release. In 1995 Tadiran said it won a contract from General Dynamics worth $62.5 million to manufacture 15,000 Sincgars radios. The Government Accountability Office said the Defense Department spent $1.3 billion to acquire Sincgars radios in between 2005 and 2006.

Bowden said the news reports about Hezbollah’s ability to hack into IDF radios has raised concerns that militants in Iraq could also hack into Sincgars radios using technology shared by Hezbollah or Iran.

Bowden said soldiers have called his office about their concerns. “We want to make it clear that they do not have a problem,” he said. “Sincgars is the robust type of communications they need to protect against these kinds of threats.”

Bowden said service members concerned about Sincgars’ security should e-mail him at James.Bowden@us.army.mil.

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