Rapid Reconstitution of Communications and Compact Hardware Solution
Navy SBIR 2020.4 - Topic N204-A04
Navy SBIR/STTR Program Management Office - navy-sbir-sttr@navy.mil
Opens: April 27, 2020 - Closes: May 28, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)

N204-A04  TITLE: Rapid Reconstitution of Communications and Compact Hardware Solution [see Q&As]

 

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Network Command, Control and Communications

 

OBJECTIVE: The Department of the Navy (DON) is urgently seeking portable, small form factor communications capabilities that meet the requirements for rapid and coordinated response in the event of a global crisis. These communications capabilities may be used to facilitate coordinated responses ashore and afloat for many types of missions, particularly those conducted in high-demand, low-bandwidth communications environments.

 

DESCRIPTION: The Unclassified Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) states that “we cannot expect success fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons or equipment.” Today’s challenging global and domestic environment requires a rapid response with new and innovative technical solutions. Technical solutions for the rapid reconstitution of communications in denied or intermittent environments, as well as small form factor and man portable communications hardware (antennas, radios, etc.) will offer new capabilities for rapid, coordinated responses in the face of global crisis. The PEO C4I and PMW 770 Undersea Networking acquisition gap includes the ability to provide survivable and effective asymmetric advantages through enhancements in communications, unmanned operations, and the use of distributed systems to conduct Undersea Warfare (USW) missions. Portable, small form factor communications capabilities that meet these needs may also be used to enable communications and facilitate coordinated responses ashore and afloat for many other types of missions, particularly those conducted in high-demand, low-bandwidth communications environments. DON intends to collaborate with innovative small businesses for technologies and methods related to the following Focus Areas:

 

1. Rapid reconstitution of submarine shore Very Low Frequency (VLF) communications system

2. Small form factor retractable antenna for secure communications on medium-sized Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV)s

3. Maximally autonomous management and control of a communication system with the ability to meet the “Commander’s Intent” for a given contingency mission

 

1. Rapid reconstitution of submarine shore Very Low Frequency (VLF) communications systems: DON is particularly focused on portable solutions that must fit in standard commercial shipping box transportable by a commercial tractor. Current Fixed Submarine Broadcast System (FSBS) PoR high power VLF Stations occupy huge spaces due to large antenna arrays needed to efficiently radiate the energy at given frequencies. The goal is to utilize these deployable/transportable VLF/LF antennas and transmitters at traditional land-based facilities during periods of maintenance availabilities or emergent Casualty Reporting (CASREP) situations. All the while continuing to meet Fleet operational and mission needs within the respective Area of Responsibility (AOR). The initial scope for deployable/transportable VLF transmitter and antenna systems is the following:

a. Emulate performance of land-based VLF transmitter and antenna systems operating at the 3-30kHz frequency range

b. Transmitter system is to be built into a federally approved and standard shipping container size measuring SMALL 20ft (L) x 8’ 6” (H) or up to LARGE 40ft (L) x 8’ 6” (H), and able to be placed on a standard flatbed shipping freight-tractor

c. Transmitter power range from 20 kW to 2MW.

d. Transportable antenna solutions may include, but not limited to:

- Airborne: VLF Antennas aloft are to reach minimum height of 2.4 miles (12,500ft) to be effective; deployment mechanisms could include, but are not limited to a reeling mechanism and/ or a balloon

- Magnet-based mechanical VLF antenna

 

2. Small form factor retractable antenna for secure communications on medium-sized UUVs: Submissions must include a raising and lowering mechanism, as well as the compact antenna (a pencil-shaped High Frequency (HF) through L-band antenna). The size and layout of the system shall be suitable for integration onto a medium-sized UUV, such as those in the PMS 406 Razorback torpedo tube launch/recovery (TTLR) PoR. The final product of this topic will be the raising and lowering mechanism and the HF through L-band antenna, integrated as a system that is able to be raised and lowered when installed on a medium-sized UUV and communicate in sea surface environment conditions up to sea state 2. The technical solution will be able to meet the following constraints:

a. Raising and Lowering Mechanism

- Size: 24 inches (L) X 2.9 inches (H) X 3 inches (W); system should match curvature of UUV hull

       - Cubical Content: 251 cu. inches

       - Weight: neutrally buoyant

       - Power: Integrate with Razorback TTLR PoR requirements and constraints

b. Antenna

- Frequency coverage: HF through L-band

- SWAP: Meets retraction mechanism constraints above

 

3. Maximally autonomous management and control of a communications system with the ability to meet the “Commander’s Intent” for a given contingency mission: Contingency missions include the effects of nature (such as COVID-19) which significantly limits nominal operation and control of system components. The communications system should feature, at a minimum, Automatic Link Establishment (ALE); local and remote centralized control of all assets; provide mission planning tools to establish and execute mission profiles; adapt to the environment such as overcoming intentional and unintentional Radio Frequency (RF) noise sources; and, to the maximum practicable extent, adjust to managed and unmanaged RF spectrum plans.

 

NOTE: Work under this effort may become restricted under ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulation) in Phase II. Further information on possible ITAR restriction will be provided to Phase I awardees under this topic. Please review section 3.7 of this BAA for further information.

 

PHASE I: Please add the primary Focus Area number you are proposing to as a prefix to the Phase I Proposal title.

 

Proposers will develop and demonstrate an initial functional prototype meeting one primary Focus Area of the three Focus Areas listed under this topic. Technical proposals are limited to 5-pages and must provide sufficient information to allow assessment that the initial prototype demonstrated at the end of Phase I will function in a relevant environment in a manner meeting the specified capability. This information may include, but is not limited to, detailed designs, component and system laboratory testing, or a minimum viable product (MVP) [Ref 1]. At the end of Phase I, the initial functional prototype will be demonstrated and a detailed report on prototyping test results will be provided to the Government. Proposals must include a discussion of the dual-use defense and commercial market opportunities for the technology being proposed, including a preliminary assessment of commercial market potential.

 

Phase I period of performance shall not exceed 5 months, and the total fixed price shall not exceed $150,000.

 

PHASE II: The functional prototype demonstrated at the end of Phase I will be further developed and refined into an operational prototype based on defense and commercial customer feedback.

 

Full details for Phase II proposal requirements will be provided to Phase I awardees; however, generally it is anticipated that awardees will have to meet the objectives of key contract deliverables to successfully complete Phase II, including:

 

Prototype Demonstration of Viability –further builds on the Phase I functional prototype to meet DON user’s needs. The proposer will focus on moving beyond proving basic achievement of meeting DON needs to meeting all of the usability features required for integration and deployment. The proposer will be expected to work with actual end users and systems integration personnel to ensure that requirements beyond technological performance of the prototype are identified (e.g., Human System Interface, logistics, training, maintenance, installation). The proposer will use feedback from DON users, systems integrators, and other potential defense and commercial beneficiaries and stakeholders to modify and adapt its prototype to meet defense operational and technical needs and to meet potential dual-use commercial applications. The prototype must demonstrate operational and/or commercial viability. The proposer must recommend test procedures to demonstrate viability and an appropriate facility for the test; however, the government is not required to use the proposed testing procedures or facilities. It is very likely that government personnel will be present for the demonstration.

 

Pilot Testing in an Operational Environment – The proposer will meet with DON command stakeholders and operational end users to conduct pilot tests of fully functional prototypes in an operational environment. These tests are designed to be performed using DON operational personnel in real end user environments and scenarios. All testing will be coordinated with DON command and operational stakeholders. Results of this testing will inform stakeholders on the capabilities of the developed technology and the probability for its deployment in an operational environment. The proposer will use feedback from DON users, systems integrators, and other potential defense and commercial beneficiaries and stakeholders to adapt their prototype to optimize defense operational and technical benefits and to provide optimal dual-use commercial market fit.

 

Operational Test and Evaluation in Multiple User Scenarios - Conduct additional operational testing, if required, using multiple prototypes and users simultaneously in a DON operational environment. For testing purposes delivery of multiple prototypes and/or licenses of the technology may be required. If non-government personnel are utilized as part of the testing, appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreements will be obtained to protect against disclosure of the proposer’s intellectual property (if properly marked). The proposer may be required to support the conduct of the tests, but the operation of the prototypes in the test must be capable of being performed by the government.

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Given the need for these capabilities at numerous sites, the Federal Government will coordinate funding to maximize benefit for affected sites. Depending on financial estimates, a phased procurement may be required to reach full implementation at the necessary sites. Coordination between the Government and the provider will be required during Phase III to ensure support and proper proficiency of the solution is in place prior to completion of the effort.

 

Finally, the Federal Government sees the development of these capabilities as benefiting industrial maintenance activities in partnership with the Navy. The ability to keep critical assets in operation is a common need for which the Navy is seeking willing partners.

 

REFERENCES:

1. Minimum Viable Product: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_viable_product

 

2. Technology Readiness Levels: https://www.army.mil/e2/c/downloads/404585.pdf

 

3. PMW 770 Undersea Communications and Integration Program Office Fact Sheet, 2018. https://www.public.navy.mil/navwar/PEOC4IandSpace/Documents/TearSheets/PMW770_FactSheet_2017_DistroA.pdf

 

4. Undersea Warfare Chief Technology Office, Undersea Warfare Science and Technology Objectives, 2016. https://www.navsea.navy.mil/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Z0Z0mzYhhhw%3d&portalid=103

 

5. Undersea Warfare Chief Technology Office, Undersea Warfare Science and Technology Strategy, 2016. https://defenseinnovationmarketplace.dtic.mil/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/USW_Strategy.pdf

 

KEYWORDS: Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, RF Antenna, Small Form Factor Antenna, Compact Antenna, Retractable Antenna, Very Low Frequency, Aerostat Antenna, Reeling Antenna, Fixed Submarine Broadcast System, High Power Antenna, Portable Antenna, Undersea Communications

 

Questions may be submitted to navy-sbir-sttr@navy.mil by May 13, 2020. Please review section 4.15.d of this BAA for further information.