DARPA awards tactical network deal

With the hope of being able to form networks free of fixed infrastructure, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded an 18-month contract worth $7.8 million to BAE Systems Inc.

The contract to develop the next generation in wireless tactical network protocols for the military includes an option that would extend it to 30 months at a cost of $13.3 million.

The objective of DARPA's initiative, known as Control-Based Mobile Ad-hoc Network, is to create a new protocol for networks of autonomous mobile communication devices called mobile ad-hoc networks. Within an ad-hoc network, each node operates not only as an end system but as a router capable of forwarding traffic and forming a network free of any fixed infrastructure.

That flexibility makes the technology an attractive networking option for tactical operations. Classic networking approaches adapt poorly to rapid network changes and achieve only a fraction of the potential performance. The ad-hoc networks will improve tactical network performance.

BAE Systems is leading a multidisciplinary research team to develop a system based on network coding and the principles of control theory. Subcontractors are the California Institute of Technology, Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Massachusetts and Stow Research LLC.

The program will culminate with field demonstrations at the Fort Dix/Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command San Diego awarded the contract.

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Government Computer News' sister publication, Washington Technology.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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