Raytheon to provide soldiers with mobile translation system

When completed, the Army will have a system that can be used on a variety of operating systems and mobile platforms.

Raytheon has won a $5.5 million Army contract to develop a two-way communication and translation system.

The goal is to give the Army a system that can be used on a variety of operating systems and platforms, including portable, mobile and net-enabled devices, according to a Jan. 17 Raytheon announcement, which did not mention the length of the contract.

Raytheon BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Raytheon Co., will develop prototype systems for two-way, speech-to-speech translation, document translation, and text-to-text translation.

This capability will allow users to communicate with non-English speakers as well as to screen and translate printed or electronic text.

In the initial technology development phase, BBN will develop the software architecture and implement it on prototypes in portable, mobile and net-enabled configurations.

"There simply are not enough human translators available to meet the Army's needs, and previous translation devices have restricted users to a selection of canned phrases," explained Prem Natarajan, head of Raytheon BBN’s speech, language and multimedia processing unit, in the announcement.

"The Machine Foreign Language Translation Systems program offers the promise of a complete communications solution for unrestricted speech and text across a variety of platforms -- from server-based systems to portable units for mobile use," he said.

Raytheon Co., of Waltham, Mass., ranks No. 4 on Washington Technology’s 2011 Top 100 list of the largest federal government contractors.