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Optimized Personal Area Network (PAN) for Battlefield Airmen


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems 

OBJECTIVE: Develop an optimized wireless personal area network (WPAN) for Battlefield Airmen’s personnel equipment set based on information security, survivability, workload, and size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) considerations. 

DESCRIPTION: Battlefield Airmen carry extensive sensing, communications, computation and information management equipment on the battlefield. This equipment set, known as the Battlefield Air Operations Kit (BAO Kit), includes worn items (computer, GPS, headset, visual displays, batteries), hand held items (radios, range finders) and placed items (laser designators, packable radios). The cables required to network the BAO Kit create storage, management, and mobility challenges. The current wired network has an undesirable footprint. The large number of unique ruggedized cables and spares take up a significant portion of the Battlefield Airman’s packable space and weight budget. Assembly and disassembly of the cabled network takes time and is particularly difficult under low light conditions. Cables have to be integrated with outer garments, backpacks, tactical vests, helmets and other protective gear. Worn cables create entanglement and snag hazards which can cause injury and degrade the pace of operations. The advantages of a cabled connections include reduced electromagnetic signature, secure transmission and simplified, efficient, power management from a single, high capacity battery. Wireless solutions must provide for rapid entry and exit of the network and comply with DoD wireless operating standards. It is possible that the optimized system may contain a mixture of wireless and cabled connections. A robust systems engineering effort is needed to digest operational requirements, prioritize human factors issues, analyze BAO Kit component interfaces, bandwidth, information security and power requirements and build an optimal network design. It has always been the major focus of the BAO Kit program management office (PMO) to field a functional kit that is as small, lightweight, and powerful as possible with the need for improvements in cable management to reduce entanglement, snag hazards, and modularity. The purpose of this SBIR topic is to design a WPAN that meets SWaP-C, while taking into consideration cost, bandwidth, and security considerations (in particular covert operation) for the BAO Kit. 

PHASE I: Investigate data transmission requirements for each BAO Kit component. Conduct space, weight, power, security and ergonomic trade analysis for various wired and wireless options. Design optimal transmission components and overall network system. Conduct technical analysis (e.g., modeling and simulation) to quantify initial designs. Chart a clear course using system documentation for developing the WPAN technology in Phase II. Additional GFI related to BAO Kit will be provided to successful offerors. 

PHASE II: Refine design based on cost, manufacturing and logistics considerations. Conduct a formal risk assessment, and document key program risks. Produce a prototype WPAN. Develop test plan and conduct laboratory testing to confirm performance. Provide a demonstration of the WPAN prototype. System design and demonstration of the WPAN should take into consideration the intended environment and its characteristics (e.g., RF interference, friendly/hostile jamming, and co-site issues) for use of the WPAN. 

PHASE III: Produce field-ready WPAN prototypes with corresponding performance specification documentation. Demonstrate the WPAN prototypes in an environment relevant to the operations conducted by Battlefield Airmen (e.g., military operational exercise). Develop detailed field test plan describing the planning and execution of use case scenarios and a follow-on field test report capturing WPAN test and post-demonstration analysis results. Provide a user’s manual describing detailed operation of the WPAN. Work with the Government on the development of a technology transition plan for the WPAN system. 



2:  Joint Publication 3-09.3, Close Air Support Podcast:

3:  AFSC 1C2X1 Combat Control Career Field Education and Training Plan,

KEYWORDS: Wireless Personal Area Networks, Battlefield Airmen Networking Technology, Secure Networking, Inter/intra-network Communications, Wearable Communications Devices, Tactile Network Interface, Short-range Connectivity, Covert Communications Technology, Auton 


Robert Riley 

(315) 330-4326 

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