Industry Recon

Military contractors receive new work for sensors, communications systems and satellites

Mobile communications

The Army ordered more MobiLink Technologies communications-on-the-move systems from DataPath to support battlefield operations in Iraq.

The system was successfully tested in late 2008 and early 2009 in Iraq and is now being used with the Army’s mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, DataPath officials said in April. The Army used options on an existing order to buy eight additional communications-on-the-move systems with field support, they added.

MRAP vehicles equipped with MobiLink systems use broadband connectivity to increase situational awareness for troops traveling in long convoys or conducting dangerous operations. The systems offer an unbroken satellite link while on the move and operate without interference from military jammers. They can receive live feeds from unmanned aerial vehicles while supporting voice-over-IP, videoconferencing and secure Web connectivity.

MRAP and command-and-control vehicles will use a version of MobiLink that features a low-profile antenna that eliminates interference with other systems on a vehicle and helps protect it from being easily identifiable. Soldiers can shift the entire system from one vehicle to another as needed and use the system in other Army vehicles, such as Bradleys, Strykers and Humvees.

Radar warning receiver

BAE Systems will develop a prototype of a radar warning receiver for the Air Force that will be capable of identifying radio frequency and communications activity in real time, company officials said.

The Air Force awarded the company a three-year, $6.3 million contract to develop the technology as part of the Satellite Awareness and Protection program, the officials said. The program was established to develop better ways to warn and protect satellites against attack.

BAE Systems will develop a prototype of a low-cost receiver that detects when radar locks onto satellites. It is expected to offer more capability than previous receivers while being smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient, company officials said.

Energy harvesters

The Navy awarded a Small-Business Innovation Research contract to MicroStrain to develop a technology that can power wireless sensors on Navy aircraft.

The company will build miniature vibro-mechanical energy harvesters to power the sensors, company officials said in April. The two-year SBIR Phase II award is potentially worth $917,000, they added.

MicroStrain’s harvesters convert machines’ vibrations into power. Wireless sensors need energy to operate, but battery maintenance, replacement and disposal disrupt continuous sensor operation. The Navy turned to energy harvesters as a potentially resilient source of power for sensors.

Development of wireless sensors and associated technologies is part of a long-term strategy by the Navy to create distributed wireless sensor networks that will provide crucial information about all aspects of an aircraft’s structure for safety and maintenance purposes. The Navy plans to deploy radio frequency identification tags along with the wireless sensor networks.

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