DARPA's developing a data network that connects squadrons even when jammed

DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation for a new program called Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimization (DyNAMO) which aims to keep America's manned (and unmanned) combat aircraft connected even if enemy forces attempt to jam their communications. But that's not as straightforward as it sounds. US aircraft are additionally hindered by the fact that many of the platforms operate on incompatible radio networks using different encryption schemes. And while the DoD has already developed specialized data-link gateways to act as universal translators between them, the gateways' bandwidth is limited.

"DyNAMO's goal is to enable pilots in one type of aircraft with a specific suite of sensors to easily share information with different types of manned and unmanned systems and also receive sensor information from those various platforms for a comprehensive view of the battlespace." Wayne Phoel, DARPA program manager, said in a statement. "We aim to develop technology that dynamically adapts networks to enable instantaneous free-flow of information among all airborne systems, at the appropriate security level and in the face of active jamming by an adversary."

Darpa expects the DyNAMO technology to run some custom radio hardware it's also developing through the Communications in Contested Environments (C2E) program. This program seeks, essentially, to update the translating data-link gateways with an architecture that closely resembles commercial smart phones. That is, one where the application processing, real-time processing, and hardware are all managed and validated separately. In this way, DyNAMO will be able to take raw RF data, convert it into a format that every plane in the squadron can process and then disseminate it reliably.

[Image Credit: Getty Images, inline - DARPA]