WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp. beat out Boeing Co. to win a $766.2 million Pentagon contract to design and build a radio system connecting aircraft, ships and ground stations militarywide.

WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin Corp. beat out Boeing Co. to win a $766.2 million Pentagon contract to design and build a radio system connecting aircraft, ships and ground stations militarywide.

The deal, announced late Friday, could lead to the installation of tens of thousands of radios and ultimately be worth billions to the company.

The award is a key piece of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), a major Defense Department program to replace much of the military's existing radio equipment with radios that will let Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine troops communicate. The new system will be able to transmit video and other data and as well as conversations.

According to Loren Thompson, a defense analyst and consultant based in Virginia, different branches of the military purchased so many different radio systems on a haphazard basis that many of the radio systems are not compatible — or "interoperable." In some cases, he noted, military radios cannot even communicate with other radios inside the same service.

There are at least two dozen types of incompatible radio systems in the field, Thompson estimated. That often forces troops to carry multiple radios with them, he said.

The Joint Tactical Radio System will replace those older systems.

The new contract is for the "airborne, maritime and fixed site" piece of the JTRS program — much of which falls under the umbrella of the Air Force and Navy. It will upgrade radios on C-130 and C-5 transport aircraft, C-17 airlifters, Global Hawk and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, Apache helicopters and Osprey tiltrotor vertical/short takeoff and landing aircraft.

"This is the digital backbone for all future military communications," Thompson said. "Eventually, it will enable any warfighter anywhere in the world to talk to any other warfighter in a split second."

It will also produce radios for surface ships and subsurface ships, including aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and several amphibious vessels.