DARPA awards contract for gigabit-speed mobile hot spots


Raytheon will develop ground and drone-mounted high-speed nodes.

The Defense Advanced Research Agency has awarded Raytheon Missiles Systems a $4 million contract to develop mobile wireless hot spots capable of transmitting data at gigabit speeds on the battlefield.

When DARPA kicked off the tactical mobile hot spot program in February, it said the project will leverage commercial standards such as short-range Wi-Fi and long-range WiMax and fourth-generation, long-term evolution cellular technology to develop systems compatible with military radio standards.

DARPA said the mobile hot spots will operate in a high-frequency  71-86 GHz band and will be capable of distributing high-resolution video and broadband data to infantry squads, platoons and companies with links to unmanned aerial vehicles. The Army announced Monday that it has started equipping vehicles the 10th Mountain Division will use in Afghanistan with radios that operate at megabit speeds.    

The DARPA mobile hot spot program calls for gigabit-speed radios with steerable antennas and automated pointing, as well as signal acquisition and tracking. The agency wants a single chip power amplifier with output greater than 1 watt and a multiple-chip amplifier with 10 watts of transmitting power.

The mobile hot spots are nodes in a network spanning 62 miles. DARPA wants to test two backbone links for each ground node and up to four links for UAVs. The agency also plans to test the mobile hot spots in three ground stations and in two pods attached to the wings of a RQ-7 Shadow, an 11-foot long aircraft with a 12-foot wingspan that is capable of operating as high as 8,000 feet.

DARPA said the mobile hot spot project aims to provide a new system that exceeds the limited range of existing tactical communication systems and will “test a scalable mobile communications backbone with the capacity and range needed to connect remote and mobile warfighters with forward operation bases; higher echelon tactical operations centers; and remote intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sources; and fixed communications infrastructure.” 

(Image via RTimages/Shutterstock.com)