The Pentagon has issued a new call for partners to push forward an ambitious plan to build a sprawling wireless network linking together Humvees, unmanned aircraft and ground troops with minimal fixed infrastructure.
The U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees elite military units conducting a variety of missions around the world, is gathering information on the commercial devices available to build this floating system, according to a request for information issued yesterday.
The goal is to weave together devices that communicate with one another and receive wireless signals into a wireless network, allowing connectivity on the battlefield without fiber-optic cables or cell towers. The Pentagon envisions that the tools could be carried by soldiers, mounted on unmanned vehicles or installed on ground vehicles. The solicitation for industry information launched on April 30 and closes in 30 days.
The Pentagon has been casting the net for new technologies that could be integrated into this plan. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the military venture capital arm, is funding the research techniques to increase the range of a fixed-site base stations through a program called Fixed Wireless at a Distance. This would allow components of the moving network to pick up on radio frequency signals from faraway bases.
DARPA is also expected to fork over $40 million for a program called Mobile Hotspots to develop ways to transmit high-performing millimeter-wave signals between communications devices. The hope is that this system will be a reliable means for the dissemination of real-time intelligence.