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Army Awards $4-Billion Deal

United Press International

A long-awaited $4.3 billion contract for a mobile battlefield communications network has been awarded to a U.S.-French industrial partnership over a U.S.-British consortium, the Army said today.

The basic contract of $63.25 million will be given to the GTE Corp. late this year and six other fixed-price contracts will be awarded in later years, the Army announced. The GTE system, known as Mobile Subscriber Equipment, will incorporate major components of the French RITA mobile communications system developed by Thompson CSF and other French companies.

Intended for the entire Army force of five corps and 26 divisions--active duty, reserve and National Guard units--the system may be the biggest single purchase of foreign military equipment the Pentagon has ever ordered.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly intervened directly with President Reagan to gain assurances that the hefty contract would be awarded to British-U.S. partnership. But the Army said the British partnership had bid more than $3 billion more to build the system than the U.S.-French consortium.

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