DARPA seeks new radio communications waveforms and hardware modules to safeguard military communications

ARLINGTON, Va., 17 July 2011. Military communications experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking for industry's help in developing RF communications technology that is impervious to enemy attempts to detect, intercept, or exploit it. DARPA released a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-11-61) late last week for the Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program to safeguard military ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, and air-to-air RF communications.

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ARLINGTON, Va., 17 July 2011.Military communications experts at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., are asking for industry's help in developing RF communications technology that is impervious to enemy attempts to detect, intercept, or exploit it. DARPA released a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-11-61) late last week for the Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program to safeguard military ground-to-ground, ground-to-air, and air-to-air RF communications.The DARPA CLASS program seeks to create new waveforms and technology to protect military RF communications from enemy signals intelligence, despite the difficulties for electronic signals protection imposed by demands for interoperability, the desire to extend the service life of existing communications equipment, and the demand for high-capacity communications waveforms.Rather than using signal power control to protect military communications, the DARPA CLASS program seeks to create communications waveforms that capitalize on advanced in digital signal processing to enable future military communications systems to receive and process transmissions using sophisticated application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) while forcing adversaries to require supercomputer processing to intercept and exploit U.S. and allied radio signals.

DARPA researchers assume that sophisticated adversaries have access to modern commercial communications test equipment that is able to intercept U.S. military RF signals. To counter this capability, DARPA researchers want to develop modular technology that can fit into existing and planned military radio systems.

For the CLASS program, DARPA is concentrating on six technical areas: waveform complexity; spatial diversity techniques; interference exploitation; technology integration; modular product development; and radio integration.

Waveform complexity refers to removing predictable structures from communication waveforms, adding atypical random structure, new ways to acquire and track signals, and similar techniques. Spatial diversity refers to manipulating the spatial characteristics of a signal to create controlled, easily recovered waveforms at the destination receiver while creating difficult-to-recover signal characteristics at other locations.

Interference exploitation seeks to use natural and artificial interference against an unintended receiver to force adversaries to dedicate processing resources to the source signal to reduce interference. Technology integration refers to developing CLASS technology in modular form for integration into existing and planned military radio systems.

Modular product development seeks to blend CLASS technology into existing military radios as technology modules. The host radio will communicate with the module through a standards-based digital interface and the module will provide an RF signal that may be transmitted independently or be multiplexed with the host radio signal. Radio integration, meanwhile, seeks to integrate CLASS technology into other radio systems as a hardware/software/firmware technology suite.

The CLASS program will have three phases: technology development, module development, and radio integration. For technology development, researchers will develop and simulate CLASS technologies in conventional development tools such as the MatLab design-and-development tool from The MathWorks in Natick, Mass. After this, researchers will emulate CLASS technology in hardware and develop code VHDL describing the technology to be used in integrated circuit development.

The module-development phase seeks to complete and validate waveform complexity technology performance in integrated circuit and module development. The radio integration phase seeks to integrate the modular technology into existing military radio. This effort is planned for a later procurement. DARPA may award several contracts for the CLASS program.

Companies interested should submit a proposal abstract by 29 July 2011 -- just two weeks away -- and submit formal proposals no later than 30 Aug. 2011. For questions or concerns, or to submit abstracts and proposals, contact DARPA's Mark Rich by e-mail at DARPA-BAA-11-61@darpa.mil, or by post to DARPA-BAA-11-61, CLASS 34 DARPA/STO, ATTN: DARPA-BAA-11-61, 3701 North Fairfax Dr., Arlington, Va. 22203-1714.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-11-61/listing.html.

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