Modern Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) Algorithms for Tactical Data Links
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-090
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Modern Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) Algorithms for Tactical Data Links


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA-201, Precision Strike Weapons


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual

use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop and employ modern algorithms, including Forward Error Correction (FEC) and Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) or other receiver digital compensation techniques, for tactical data links to improve the communication range, anti-jamming resistance, and network throughput.


DESCRIPTION: Navy Radio Technology is undergoing a significant technology shift from Hardware Defined Radios (HDRs) to Software Defined Radios (SDRs). SDRs can expedite much needed technology solutions via firmware and/or software in lieu of a hardware dependency. SDRs reduce the logistic burden associated with replacing and/or maintaining new hardware as well as associated lifecycle cost. The Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Program Office delivers tactical data link solutions via a SDR and Software Waveforms. MIDS terminal is a NSA Type 1 Information Assurance (IA) encryption system.


Tactical data links previously relied on hard decoding methods of which Reed-Solomon codes are the representative class. In the last 25 years, the modern capacity approaching FEC algorithms was invented that can improve on the energy per bit to noise power spectral density ratio, the major figure of merit of the FEC algorithms [Ref 1]. These coding techniques include Turbo and low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes [Refs 2, 3, 4]. Finally, Polar Codes were invented in 2008 [Ref 5]. In addition to the FEC algorithms, some Hybrid Automatic Repeat Request (ARQ) [Ref 6] algorithms and receiver compensation techniques [Ref 7] appeared.


The modern communication field is characterized by the networking, Internet Protocol (IP)-ready capability, long range with limited transmit power, high data rate and high Anti-Jam (AJ) resistance. At the same time, Moore’s law brought a substantial increase in computational capabilities at the lower power consumption level needed for the tactical communications systems, thus making the implementation of these new computationally complex algorithms possible.


The Navy seeks innovative FEC, ARQ, or other digital algorithms for tactical data links that can be implemented in Field Programmable Gated Array (FPGA) or general purpose processors (GPP) to improve on the Energy per bit (Eb) to Noise power spectral density ratio (NO) figure of merit and bit or message error rate versus data rate. The research should be accompanied by analyses and/or simulations that allow for comparison of performance of the proposed algorithms with current algorithms such as Reed-Solomon codes, and estimates of the computational requirements (e.g., the Eb to NO 10 FPGA and Altera A10 System on Chip).


Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and SPAWAR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.


PHASE I: Develop new FEC, ARQ, or other digital algorithms and establish the base performance and propose algorithms as a minimum—implementable in a GPP or FPGA (or both). Perform simulations required to establish the Eb to NO figure of merit greater than 10 db. (Note: The proposer may assume an Additive Gaussian White Noise (AWGN) or other modulated signals. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


PHASE II: Produce, demonstrate, and implement (in software) prototypes for the proposed algorithms, encompassing both the design of the encoding and decoding algorithms. Conduct evaluations primarily by testing the algorithms against the required modulations and the emulated threat signal sets that will be provided by the Government. (Note: The Government, at its discretion, may also provide threat signal data for testing. Likewise, the Government may also opt to conduct independent testing at a Government facility at Government expense.

Performance of the algorithms will be judged based on latency and the Eb to NO.) Prepare a Phase III development plan to evaluate the algorithms to determine their figures of merit; and transition the technology for Navy and potential commercial use.


It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified in Phase II (see Description section for details).


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Provide support in transitioning the algorithms for Navy use. Further refine algorithms to ensure software coded, validated, documented and information assurance (IA) compliance according to the Phase III development plan for evaluation. Perform test and validation to certify and qualify software and firmware components to meet MIDS terminal qualification and certification requirements for Navy use. Implement in the form of fast, efficient algorithms that, once proven, can be coded in software defined radios. The final product will be supported by the proposer (or under license) and transition to the Government. Partnership with prime vendors is encouraged.


Digital algorithms have increasing application in the area of wireless communication; the core technology will have wide application in both the public and private sectors.



1.   Arikan, E. “Channel Polarization: A Method for Constructing Capacity-Achieving Codes for Symmetric Binary- Input Memoryless Channels.” IEEE Transactions on Information Theory, 2009, pp. 3051-3073.


2.   Berrou, C., Glavieux, A., and Thitimajshima, P. “Near Shannon Limit Error-Correcting Coding and Decoding: Turbo-Codes.” International Conference on Communications: Geneva, 1993.


3.   Gallager, R. “Low-Density Parity-Check Codes.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 1963.


4.   Lin, S., and Yu, P. “A Hybrid ARQ Scheme with Parity Retransmission for Error Control of Satellite Channels.” IEEE Transactions on Communications, 1982.


5.   MacKay, D. “Good Error-Correcting Codes Based on Very Sparse Matrices.” Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge UK, 1997.


6.   Proakis, J., and Salehi, M. Digital Communications. McGraw-Hill Education: New York, 2007.


KEYWORDS: Data Links; Software Defined Radios; Forward Error Correction; Error Correction Coding; FEC; Automatic Repeat Request



Carlos Alvarado





Maulin Patel





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