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High Voltage Antenna Protection for Hand-held and Man-pack Radios





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 section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. 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: Development of innovative approaches to provide high-voltage protection to reduce the risk of electrical shocks from low overhead wires for dismounted radio operators while providing equivalent or better radiation pattern and gain in existing hand-held and man-pack radio antennas.


DESCRIPTION: Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) provides radio and antenna material solutions to the Marine Corps. In an operational environment, dismounted Marines can encounter low-hanging wires such as unregulated power distribution lines which present the potential for an electric shock hazard. These lines can be unpredictable in height and voltage. Dismounted Marines operate hand-held or man-pack radios with long collapsible whip (8 to 10 ft.) or blade antennas (3 to 4ft) (Ref 1 and 2). The configurations allow for the possibility of an electrical shock hazard should direct contact be made with a power line. While whip antennas exhibit good size and weight characteristics for the performance they provide, they pose a shock hazard in these types of environments due to their length and all metal construction. Intermediate length blade antennas are more manageable, but are also not designed for the electrical safety of the operator. The development of technology solutions for this type of environment creates several challenges. Electrical antennas (monopoles) need to be in upright position to perform well and display the appropriate omni-directional pattern. However, doing this increases visual cueing to the enemy. An operator in “prone” position (under fire) could also experience substantial degradation in antenna performance due to reflections off of the ground plane. While higher amplification could facilitate the use of a shorter antenna height, this could in turn negatively impact the available portable battery power carried by each warfighter as higher amplification would require more available power. Wearable antenna solutions (e.g. solution that wraps around the individual) are available; however, they could potentially pose Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Personnel (HERP) concerns. These solutions also are limited by the use of one frequency band and typically have insufficient power for communications. Loop antennas provide a means to reduce the height significantly, but with a cross-looped design (such as an eggbeater), it becomes impractical for an individual to use. Presently, a temporary solution has been deployed but this solution is a simple antenna sheathing that is considered a temporary work around and not integrated with the antenna. At this time, there are no robust, viable technology solutions for this ongoing need in the application cited.

MARCORSYSCOM is looking for non-invasive, innovative approaches that can be installed in the field for our fielded antennas described previously, to reduce the risk to the operator by providing high-voltage protection to 20KV RMS (35KV RMS objective) while also providing equivalent or better radiation pattern omnidirectional gain as well as a solution that is difficult for the enemy to visually detect. The antennas/solutions of most interest are for use with hand-held and man-pack tactical radios in the High Frequency (HF), lower Very High Frequency (VHF) bands (2 to 88 MHz), and 33-88mhz Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS). The following hand-held and man-pack tactical radios use those above mentioned bands: AN/PRC-150, AN/PRC-117F, AN/PRC-117G and AN/PRC-152 (Ref 3 and 4). The radios use N Type and threaded Neill–Concelman (TNC) antenna connectors. Concepts proposed must not negatively impact or damage the high voltage wires encountered and must pass a high voltage performance test. Proposers should be prepared to discuss the level of protection their technology solution(s) provides, the technology used to achieve a proposed level of protection, and any applicable antenna/solution performance information. Proposers should employ open architecture designs principles as much as is practicable. Preference will be given to solutions that do not cause permanent modifications to the current Marine Corps systems. For maximum range and reliability, the dismounted Marine requires the antenna to be light and flexible (Ref 3 and 4). A collapsible design is not required but, if applicable to the proposed concept, would be helpful for storage and transportation.


PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for reducing the risk of electric shock in the event that a hand-held or man-pack radio antenna makes contact with a live power source pursuant to the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The company will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction.


PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype(s) for evaluation. The prototype(s) will be evaluated to determine the capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II SOW and the Marine Corps requirements as stated in the Description section. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and over the required range of parameters as discussed in the Description above. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype(s) into a final design. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Marine Corps use.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning their technology for Marine Corps use. The company will finalize the design for evaluation to determine effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. As applicable, the company will prepare manufacturing plans and develop manufacturing capabilities to produce the product for military and commercial markets.


KEYWORDS: antenna; tactical radio; AN/PRC-150; AN/PRC-117F; AN/PRC-117G; AN/PRC-152 

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