Accessible radio frequencies are crucial for warfighter training, testing and operations. Ensuring access to the necessary electromagnetic spectrum for U.S. Defense Department missions is not an easy task, especially in a time of growing demand across the military and commercial sectors, explains Col. Frederick Williams, USAF, acting director of the Office of Spectrum Policy and Programs, Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD. The military operates in a wide range of spectrum bands, both on an exclusive and shared basis. In the last several years, Defense Department operational requirements for spectrum access have increased.
The U.S. Defense Department has released two more draft requests for prototype proposals seeking fifth-generation (5G) wireless solutions. The newly announced projects are for smart warehousing and asset management for Naval Supply Systems Command and augmented reality and virtual reality at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
Anyone who has worked in the Pentagon or on almost any military installation can attest to wireless connectivity problems. Whether dealing with a dearth of cellular service, inadequate Wi-Fi or security blockers, service members and civilians have felt the frustration of not being able to access information or communicate effectively.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is challenged with a significant personnel shortage, including information technology, spectrum and cybersecurity experts.
Vice Adm. Nancy A. Norton, DISA director and commander of the Joint Forces Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network (JFHQ-DODIN), told the audience at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber 2019 conference in Baltimore that the agency is seeking to hire personnel in a number of areas.
The director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Steven Walker, pictures the future battlefield as a mosaic of lower-cost, less complex systems linked together in a vast number of ways to create desired, interwoven effects tailored to any scenario. The agency, known as DARPA, is standing up a new program office and investing in an array of technologies, from artificial intelligence to robotics to systems for hypersonic flight and space, to make that picture a reality.
It may be only a matter of time before first responders using mobile devices can share emergency data by piggybacking on spectrum donated by public television broadcasters. The datacasting capability allows one person to broadly share video or other data without running out of bandwidth or clogging traditional communication channels.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T’s) datacasting project has made major strides and will engage in two pilot demonstrations in the coming months before undergoing testing in the next fiscal year, which could lead to widespread deployment.
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is increasing the warfighter’s ability to operate in the complex spectrum environment by providing operational support through electromagnetic battlespace planning, radio frequency deconfliction and joint spectrum interference resolution. DISA’s Defense Spectrum Organization (DSO) ensures the agency and the DOD maintain information dominance through effective electromagnetic spectrum operations.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced 11 awards, totaling $12 million, to support activities aimed at enhancing the public's access to the radio frequency spectrum, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used to facilitate telecommunications and modern information systems essential for public safety, transportation and national defense.
These three-year awards continue NSF's ongoing investment in radio spectrum research, which over the past five years has supported more than 140 awards through an investment of over $60 million.
The Defense Department’s futuristic research agency has finalized its contest plans—backed by nearly $4 million in prizes—for the creation of a radio that can withstand wireless congestion.
It’s an ambitious competition led by the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) to expand the communications capacity of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially at a time when the explosion of wireless devices and the dawning of the Internet of Things era has placed such a heavy demand for access to such a finite resource.
The U.S. Army last week completed an exercise designed to further define how the service adapts operationally to modern threats, including cyber attacks and electromagnetic warfare. During the exercise, the Army tested the cyber-electromagnetic activities (CEMA) cell concept within a brigade combat team and introduced new, yet-to-be-fielded technologies.
National Science Foundation officials are awarding several grants in the coming months earmarked for research on enhancing access to the electromagnetic spectrum. The grants are part of an effort to identify bold new concepts that could significantly improve the efficiency of radio spectrum usage for all consumers, including the military, government agencies and industry.
The foundation aims to award grants for its Grand Challenge, which falls under the Enhancing Access to the Radio Spectrum (EARS) program, by the end of September, reveals Thyaga Nandagopal, the EARS program manager. Officials expect up to eight awards totaling $10 million. Each grant will have a limit of $1.5 million for three years.
In decades past, designers assumed there always would be plenty of spectrum to go around and built their systems accordingly. Strategists and tacticians did the same when crafting operational plans. Availability, the potential for interference and the need to defend against an attack were considerations but not driving factors.
Begin with the end in mind. That is the Federal Communications Commission’s approach to secure and facilitate the use of mobile broadband and next-generation wireless technologies operating at higher frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its goal is to encourage the exploitation of spectrum and insist that cybersecurity be built-in from the get-go rather than as an afterthought, says Rear Adm. David Simpson, USN (Ret.), chief of the commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
U.S. Defense Department researchers recently announced the development of an analog-to-digital converter chip that processes spectrum at the previously unheard of rate of 60 billion times per second—fast enough to potentially ensure the uninterrupted operation of spectrum-dependent military systems, including communications and radar, in contested and congested electromagnetic environments.
MacAulay-Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio, has been awarded a $40 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Spectrum Warfare Evaluation Assessment Technology Engineering Research. Contractor will provide research and development in the areas of radio frequency sensor assessment for electronic support, electronic attack and electronic protection with a primary focus on active countermeasures evaluation and assessment for threat radar and communication systems in a free space radiation environment. Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be complete by December 29, 2022. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with five offers received.
CACI Technologies Inc., Chantilly, Virginia (FA8650-16-D-1848), and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado (FA8650-16-D-1849), have each been awarded a multiple award, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, with a shared ceiling value of $49,500,000, for spectrum warfare assessment technologies research and development. The contractors will provide for applied and advanced research and development to conduct leading-edge system-of-systems spectrum warfare applications and advanced technology development.
Technology developers and commercial service providers are racing to exploit elements of the radio frequency spectrum with advances that could be at odds with each other. Increased consumer demand for wireless services is driving providers to develop new capabilities for their systems, and the emerging Internet of Things has hardware firms vying for standard-setting technologies that would define the marketplace for future generations.
Leidos Inc., Reston, Virginia, has been awarded a $7,890,740 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a research project under the Shared Spectrum Access for Radar and Communications (SSPARC) program (Coexistence Phase 2). The contractor will continue research in the area of spectrum sharing between radar and communications systems to build on prior work carried out in the coexistence thrust of Phase 1. Fiscal 2015 research and development funds in the amount of $5,352,607 are being obligated at the time of award.
While cybersecurity is getting big play in the news these days—as it well should—three topics require just as much attention but have not yet hit the big time. Acquisition, spectrum and interoperability may not have the headline-grabbing charm of the hack into the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter account, but they are issues that need the same serious attention.
For years, industry and government personnel have agreed that the system for purchasing information technology systems needs change—serious change. The complicated acquisition process not only puts out-of-date technology in warfighters’ hands, it puts lives in danger.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum, Maryland (FA8650-14-D-1731); Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta, Georgia (FA8650-14-D-1732); Leidos, Reston, Virginia (FA8650-14-D-1733); Dynetics, Inc., Huntsville, Alabama (FA8650-14-D-1734); Berrie Hill Research Corp., Dayton, Ohio (FA8650-14-D-1735); MacAulay Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio (FA8650-14-D-1736); and Riverside Research Institute, New York, New York (FA8650-14-D-1737), have been awarded a $47,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for research and development for the Advanced Novel Spectrum Warfare Environment Research program.