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High-Frequency Ionospheric Visualization Environment (High-FIVE)

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors 

OBJECTIVE: Provide means to rapid assess, predict, validate, and report high frequency (HF) signal propagation in both near-real-time and forecast situations 

DESCRIPTION: NOTE: Throughout this topic, use of the term "HF" may be exchangeable with Medium Frequency (MF), HF, and VHF, and similar spectra below 30 MHz. With the advent of improved circuitry, software-defined radios (SDR), and our advancing understanding of high-frequency (HF), low-frequency, very-low-frequency (VLF) bands which are advantaged by favorable ionospheric conditions, communicators are able to take advantage of these well-established spectra through use of advanced antenna systems, improved discrimination and sensitivity in the receiver units, and employment of "wideband" bandwidths, among other things. Unlike the nearly 80-year history of traditional military use of HF which utilizes narrow bandwidth channels, we may soon see 8-10+ times the bandwidth used in modern HF warfighter communications systems. In hours of darkness in winter months, most HF communication is confined to 10 MHz and below, while mid-day summer conditions may extend the usable HF spectrum to the 30 MHz, the top of the HF band. Space weather effects also significantly impact quality and distance of HF communications. High-FIVE, utilizing all available measurements on a continual basis, world-wide, continuously collects, analyzes, recommends, and disseminates best-use information to our military and allied forces. Best-use includes factoring in specific ionospheric conditions affecting sky wave, direct wave or other propagation, directionality for point-to-point (e.g., a specific mission to be contacted), distance, antenna tuning factors, general orientation of transmitter and receiver antennae, etc.). We are seeking improved means to support wideband HF communications, as well as traditional HF signals (3kHz) propagation, determine optimized frequency selection, obtain NRT feedback to the propagation modeling system(s), improved parametric settings to control the signal, and other innovative solutions to maximize the HF quality of service. 

PHASE I: Provide visualization solutions for communications centers and operations centers to determine best planning frequencies for HF use, means to disseminate HF propagation data and instructions in a timely manner, means to obtain feedback from intended and opportunistic communication nodes. Develop planning approaches to extend from HF operators through worldwide reporting and monitoring, to include feedback to operators, command and communications centers, to include potential input to the combat cloud. 

PHASE II: Develop protocol(s) for passing HF spectral conditions to the war fighter at sea, on land, and in the air. This may be via broadcast, relay, or other means. Determine ways to use this advantageously for tactical and strategic missions. Demonstrate visualization and command-control (battle management C2) for potential worldwide use. 

PHASE III: Provide means to commercialize this capability to increase distance, reduce power, and otherwise maximize the use of wideband HF communications. Provide similar capabilities for other low-frequency (VLF through UHF). 

REFERENCES: 

1: J. Taylor and B. Walker, "WSPRing Around the World, QST, November 2010, p. 30-32

2:  N. A. Frissell, et al. (2014), "Ionospheric Sounding Using Real-Time Amateur Radio Reporting Networks", Space Weather, 12, 651-656, doi:10.1002/2014SW001132

KEYWORDS: ALE, Automatic Link Establishment, HF, High Frequency, MF, Medium Frequency, VLF, Very Low Frequency, Spectra, Ionosphere, Ionospheric, Spectrum, Sky Wave, Direct Wave, Ground Wave, Shortwave, Long Wave, Winlink 

CONTACT(S): 

Kevin Magde 

(315) 330-3609 

kevin.magde@us.af.mil 

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