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Airborne Radio Sustainment Modernization


OBJECTIVE: Develop an Airborne Modernized Software Defined Radio (SDR) that uses Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA) and is condensed enough to fit in the footprint of an RT-1505A version of the AN/ARC-164 

DESCRIPTION: Modern radios in industry are now software defined radios that use common Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) interfaces to allow manufacturers a greater source of parts versus using custom designed architecture. The Open Architecture also allows portability of software applications from one radio to the next. Some of these military airborne radios also have very small footprint requirements that have to be met. However, many of the current commercial radios do not meet MIL-SPEC and aircraft requirements. An opportunity exists to take advantage of SOSA requirements and condense the hardware down to a footprint that can be used. The opportunity also exists to take this design and make the internals common to all airborne communications even though the chassis footprint differs from aircraft to aircraft and system to system. Currently, the technology exists to place a radio transceiver on a circuit card that is a 3U height. The software allows the transceiver card to be used in multiple radio bandwidths. Small businesses like Spectranetix4 and other companies like Epiq Solutions5 already market similar type hardware. However, the hardware will not fit in the 5.75 inches wide, 4.875 inches high, and 8.62 inches deep footprint needed by the legacy radio. Many of the parts also do not meet the MIL-STD-4616, MIL-STD-8107, and MIL-HDBK-5168 requirements. The current legacy radios are almost 30 years old design and custom made from discrete electronics. The radios are not upgradable to meet the new and changing threats faced by the warfighter. Also since all the different radios are unique design, parts are not swappable between systems and each system requires its own tailored repair line. The proposed research would consider existing SOSA compliance and tailor it to meet the unique requirements of the radio but still meet the openness and interoperability mandated by SOSA. Also, due to the high cost of aircraft integration, the proposed design must be able to drop into the existing footprint without forcing any changes to the aircraft mounting or wiring. Development of this replacement will reduce the overhead cost associated with the sustainment of the legacy radio systems. Currently the Air Force Supply Chain manages thousands of piece parts associated with the legacy radios. This design will drastically reduce the number of parts due to internal commonality between the different radios. It will also reduce the support footprint needed by the depot due to not having to track, manage, and repair unique parts. By expanding this design to the different radios the Air Force can maintain a common supply chain for the hardware where the only difference is the software that is loaded on the circuit cards. 

PHASE I: DIRECT TO PHASE II: the Air Force will only accept Direct to Phase II proposals. FEASABILITY DOCUMENTATION: for this Direct to Phase II topic, the Air Force is expecting that the submittal firm substantiate a present ability to: - Develop a proof of concept non-airworthy prototype that can meet the aforementioned dimensional requirements while maintaining SOSA standards for open architecture. - Develop a prototype capable of operating in the 225.00 to 399.975 MHz range and do basic AM and FM voice while allowing future software changes to add extra modes in future phases. 

PHASE II: Develop a prototype based on the proof of concept in phase I. The radio must be able to fit in the dimensional foot print while allowing the housing of the front control panel similar to the RT-1505. It must also be able to demonstrate the ability to accept aircraft power, and operate with the following conditions: • Transmits with a power output of 10 Watts on an RF Wattmeter with a 50 Ohm load • Consume no more than 35W in receive and 110W in transmit • Operate from 225.00 to 399.975 MHz • Allow 7,000+ channels • Operate with AM and FM voice • Tone • Automatic direction finder (ADF) • Receive voice/data modulated signals using communications security devices • Have a guard channel • Use HAVE QUICK II • Be able to tune within 7.5 milliseconds. The prototype will also need to include MIL-SPEC parts to the greatest extent possible for this phase as some MIL-SPEC part changes may alter the design. The display and lighting should also include night vision goggle compliant parts to the greatest extent possible as well. The hardware and software must be compliant with SOSA standards for open architecture. 

PHASE III: A successful prototype could market as a design option for other radios and avionics facing similar end of life limitations. Phase III will also address any design challenges that have not been addressed to make the prototype fully airworthy. It will also allow the ground work to develop additional operational modes not currently in use. 


1: "Software Defined Radio", Wikipedia,

KEYWORDS: Radio, Sustainable, Airborn 

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