DARPA developing a $500 radio for WIN-T program
Wireless Networking After Next radio would have four channels and extend WIN-T’s on-the-move capabilities
Fort Lauderdale—WIN-T Increment 3 is likely to include a $500 radio for the dismounted soldier, a system that is now under development by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), according to Robert Wilson, deputy project manager for PM Command Posts, speaking at the LandWarNet 2009 conference alongside WIN-T project manager COL Chuck Hoppe.
Considered almost a throwaway device at that price, the Wireless Networking After Next (WNAN) radio would have four channels and extend WIN-T’s on-the-move capabilities to soldiers on foot. “The Army has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with DARPA to develop and eventually take this to a program of record,” said Wilson.
The WNAN radio would operate over a disruptive tolerant network. In such a network, messages are not lost when the radio loses connection with the network, such as when traveling through a tunnel. Like a Blackberry device, all messages are forwarded to the radio once connection with the network is re-established.
Hoppe said that the radio is “low-hanging fruit, not so much the technology bringing the waveform, it is the idea of having a low-cost radio that can be mass produced.”
Added Wilson: “It was offered by DARPA to the Army and with the MoA, we’re taking them up on the offer. If DARPA believes it can come up with a $500 hand-held radio, of course we’re going to look at it.”
Wilson said the WNAN radio would be particularly valuable in environments like Afghanistan where there is little communications infrastructure.
The radio would help the WIN-T (Warfighter Information Network-Tactical) project office meets its evolutionary goals: Increase network capacity and spectrum efficiency, increase connectivity lower in the force, increase mobility and transportability, increase range and reach, and increase flexibility and ease of use.
Barry Rosenberg is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryDefense.