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Programmability of Regional and/or Local Multi-Source PNT for Joint All-Domain Operations


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): FutureG; Trusted AI and Autonomy; Integrated Network System-of-Systems; Space Technology


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Develop programmability aid techniques, tools, and processes to enable broad adoption of external PNT sources for resilient and assured position, velocity and timing (PVT) solutions, including ranging and relative time synchronization to precisions when GPS is degraded or not presented to address emergent needs for joint all-domain missions, including Mobility & Logistics, and Space Security, among others.


DESCRIPTION: The Air Force seeks solutions to enable broad adoption of emerging time-keeping technologies and network synchronization protocols for a multi-source PNT capability that is essential to regional and/ or local areas of interest composed of cooperative remote platforms with continuity of information synchronization and command and control for joint all-domain campaigns. An integrated multi-source PNT capability will be determined to be regionally and/or locally capable if it collectively maintains accurate PNT information over the limited time required by a specific mission and cooperatively provides remote platforms with the best possible realization of Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), in addition of other aids of local atomic clocks, GPS receivers, etc. required over the limited area when global PNT information may not be available. Specifically, regional and/or local PNT sources are those which are available from remote attritable platforms over a limited geographical area or are available at mission-essential levels of precision for a limited time because of phase and frequency offsets, unknown phase jumps, short-term noises, etc. which in turn require recalibration. As potential complements to GPS as part of a resilient integrated PNT architecture, these cooperative remote platforms providing regional and/or local PNT service coverages are enabled by wireless communications and data networks. Very often, all the remote platforms need to have a common Universal Coordinated Time (UCT) reference. Consequently, innovative standards and protocols pertaining to networked time transfer and synchronization for regional and/or local sources of PNT information are necessary.


Prospective solutions should consider: i) Complex ad-hoc networks, including tree-structure based, cluster-structure based, and fully distributed; ii) Network synchronization with asynchronous communications with reliability and bandwidth requirements; iii) Two-way time transfers against asymmetric propagation delays, Sagnac effects, and hardware operations; and iv) Convergence rates, robustness, stability, and scalability subject to network sizes and member source qualities. Furthermore, challenges and the need for further research and development – related to programmability may include but are not limited to: greater use of artificial intelligence and autonomous agents, human hierarchical guidance or in-the-loop decision, and translation of inevitable uncertainty and variability associated with individual PNT sources to achieve specific common network time synchronization accuracy and resilience metrics.


PHASE I: The awardee(s) will develop necessary plans and concepts illustrating a proof-of-concept design. The feasibility study should include such information:

  1. describing how networked time transfer and synchronization technologies would enable missions in cislunar space;
  2. resulting networked time transfer and synchronization requirements traced back to specific use cases;
  3. describing necessary network-controlled protocols, interfaces, resilience measures, etc. and
  4. modeling and simulation tools which would enable USSF force design decisions for the need for over-the-air demonstrations.


PHASE II: Awardee(s) will finalize the design of a demonstration prototype. Awardee(s) will plan and coordinate one or more demonstrations to provide proof of concept determination. Awardee(s) will perform experiments and analyze results to establish the adequacy of the solution approach and minimize transition risk. Awardee(s) will contact potential customers and establish a transition plan with partners supporting Phase III activities. Awardee(s) will provide regular communication to the government sponsor to ensure understanding of risk mitigation.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Focus on maturing the prototype technologies and processes developed in Phase II into commercial technologies. Integrate with prospective follow-on transition partners. The contractor will transition the solution of networked time transfer and synchronization to provide improved operational capability to a broad range of potential Government and civilian users and alternate mission applications, e.g., cislunar mission services.



  1. Department of Defense, “Goal 2: Enhance the Delivery, Diversity, and Resilience of Position, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Information”, DoD C3 Modernization Strategy, Sept 2020.;
  2. Breakiron, Lee A., et al. "The accuracy of two-way satellite time transfer calibrations." Proceedings of the 36th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting. 2004;
  3. K. D. Pham, “Systems and Methods of Resilient Clock Synchronization in Presence of Faults,” US Patent #11,509,451, November 03, 2022;


KEYWORDS: Remote Platforms; Regional and/or Local Multi-Source PNT; Universal Coordinated Time; Networked Time Transfer and Synchronization; Resilience Metrics; Programmability

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