DARPA to keep military communications open with floating optical fiber and networking buoys

ARLINGTON, Va., 22 April 2014. When military communications go down in the midst of battle due to electronic jamming or other interference, commanders want it restored fast, and military researchers are looking into ways of restoring disrupted links with undersea fiber-optic networks.

Apr 22nd, 2014
Floating fiber, buoys back up tactical networks
Floating fiber, buoys back up tactical networks
ARLINGTON, Va., 22 April 2014. When military communications go down in the midst of battle due to electronic jamming or other interference, commanders want it restored fast, and military researchers are looking into ways of restoring disrupted links with undersea fiber-optic networks.

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency released a solicitation last week (DARPA-BAA-14-32) for the Tactical Undersea Network Architectures (TUNA) program.

The DARPA TUNA initiative seeks to develop ways to restore connectivity temporarily for existing tactical data networks in a contested environment using small-diameter optical fiber and buoy relay nodes.

The 15-month first phase of the TUNA program will share about $15.5 million among several contractors to develop the enabling technologies for an undersea fiber optic network. The first phase will involve modeling, stimulations, scaled component technology development, and limited testing. An expected second phase will implement an integrated, end-to-end, scaled network prototype, with at-sea testing.

Related: DARPA considers buoy communications nodes to restore data networks in presence of enemy jamming

The initial phase of the DARPA TUNA program has three primary thrusts: system designs; small undersea fiber optic cables; and buoy node systems.

System designs involves studies for system architectures that integrate a military tactical data network with a rapidly deployable temporary undersea network.

Small fiber optic cable systems involves lightweight, buoyant unpowered optical fiber technologies that can survive deployment and operation in the ocean for at least 30 days.

Buoy nodes involves rapidly deployable communications buoy designs to interconnect the tactical data network and the undersea fiber optic network. Buoys should function as relays and energy sources, and should be rapidly deployable from Navy ships, submarines, and aircraft, and work with tactical data and undersea fiber optic networks.

Related: BAE Systems to build hundreds of fiber-optic decoys to protect combat jets from missiles

DARPA officials will brief industry on the TUNA program on 28 April 2014 -- next Monday -- from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the DARPA Conference center at 675 North Randolph St. in Arlington, Va.

Companies interested should email abstracts no later than 9 May 2014, and proposals no later than 13 June 2014 to DARPA-BAA-14-32@darpa.mil. Email questions and concerns to the same address.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-14-32/listing.html.

More in Defense Executive