Mesh Enhanced Tactical Airborne Link (METAL)

Award Information
Department of Defense
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Intelligent Automation, Inc.
MD, Suite 400, Rockville, MD, 20855-2737
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Justin Yackoski
Senior Research Scientist
(301) 294-4251
Business Contact:
Mark James
Director, Contracts and Proposals
(301) 294-5221
Research Institution:

ABSTRACT: The effectiveness of current and future tactical aircraft increasingly depends on their ability to exchange information. Waveforms such as the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) must be enhanced with mesh networking capabilities to meet desired efficiency, flexibility, and reliability requirements. As a complicating factor, budget constraints and various other processes create the potential for some platforms to be upgraded after significant delays or not at all, requiring backward-compatibility from upgraded waveforms. This technology will greatly improve the communications of tactical aircraft during and after the upgrade process, and should be validated in high-fidelity hardware-based testing during development with early radio vendor cooperation. To address this critical need, Intelligent Automation, Inc. (IAI), along with our collaborators Harris Corporation and Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), proposes to develop a Mesh Enhanced Tactical Airborne Link (METAL) designed as a minimally-intrusive enhancement to existing non-mesh topology waveforms such as MADL and CDL. METAL offers the advantage that the routing, topology management, and channel access methods are automatically and incrementally activated to improve network performance. This is done in part by allowing the legacy nodes to exist at arbitrary locations in the network instead of only at the network edge or communicating via special gateways. BENEFIT: With many DOD aircraft aging and their service life extending, combined with downward budgetary pressure, there is a need to cost-effectively enhance existing tactical aircraft instead of developing entirely new tactical platforms. The proposed METAL system can be added as a software-only upgrade to various aircraft current using MADL such as the F-35. The METAL system will create a significant improvement over legacy systems by removing mission constraints and communication limitations artificially imposed by current waveform design. METAL will retain direct communication capability with legacy nodes. This approach improves network connectivity and performance, instead of causing increased isolation or requiring gateways. In the commercial sector, many point-to-point and spoke-and-hub waveforms are used for cellular communications, wireless data, and other consumer services. Due to increasing consumer data demands, there is a similar drive in the commercial world to improve the efficiency of these networks without requiring new hardware at either the consumer or carrier end. One possible application of METAL is to ease the deployment of microcells and femtocells, small-scale cell towers (e.g. a few hundred meters) that extend coverage and improve spectrum efficiency.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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