Contractors are following closely a long-delayed Army program that could be worth up to $10.5 billion to provide communications hardware and software.

As federal agencies take a slower and more cautious approach to awarding new programs, contractors are attaching more importance to each opportunity.

Jeremy Mohler, an Army analyst at Deltek, which analyzes the government contracting market, said the Army’s Communications and Transmission Systems contract vehicle was first announced nearly four years ago. A solicitation isn’t expected until later this year, but the long wait hasn’t dimmed contractor interest. Nearly 1,500 users of Deltek’s services have marked it as of interest, and Mohler said he receives a call nearly weekly from another company asking for an update.

With the expectation that the program will go to 10 different contractors, he said, they have good reason to be interested. The Army has indicated it will choose six prime contractors and set aside four of the awards for small businesses.

With many slow-moving programs, “upfront it’s delayed, but eventually it kind of catches back up,” Mohler said, resulting in big orders for contractors.

This particular program is set to create a new contract vehicle that consolidates equipment now being purchased through other programs, said Mohler.

By doing so, the Army would have more control over its purchases and be able to buy them — and get them to soldiers -- more quickly, he added.

The program covers both hardware and software but focuses on stand-alone systems such as satellite equipment and handheld radios.