Military Embedded Systems

RF networking across diverse technologies for contested environments tested and validated by DARPA


December 21, 2020

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

RF networking across diverse technologies for contested environments tested and validated by DARPA
DyNAMO network of networks topology snapshot view courtesy DARPA

ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently finished field testing of a network-technology program that demonstrated successful use of new software that can bridge multiple disparate radio networks to enable communication between incompatible tactical radio data links, even if an adversary is trying to jam them.  

DARPA's Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimization program (DyNAMO) technology, says the agency, will now transition to use by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the Marine Corps, which plan to put the software on a software reprogrammable multichannel radio platform for use on aircraft and ground vehicles.

DyNAMO -- developed initially in 2016 -- has developed ways to enable automated, real-time dynamic configuration of tactical networks to ensure that heterogeneous radio nodes on the ground, in the air, or at sea can interoperate in a contested battlespace.

During the recent test of the DyNAMO capabilities, different types of military tactical data links -- including LINK 16, Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT), Common Data Link (CDL), and Wi-Fi networks -- were deployed to the test site and were successfully handled by DyNAMO, according to DARPA sources, which provided uninterrupted network connectivity between all the data links under varying conditions in a simulated contested environment.

“Not only did we break the stovepipes and make the radios interoperable with each other, we showed that the network of networks DyNAMO creates has added resiliency,” said Aaron Kofford, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “For example, a node was moving in the network, and one of the radios being used to transfer data was intentionally disabled. The data was being transferred over TTNT when the link was disabled, and DyNAMO automatically shifted that traffic to a different radio through LINK 16 without skipping a beat. From a user’s point of view, they don’t care if the data is coming to them from LINK 16 or TTNT, or CDL. All they care about is whether they can send and receive a message.”

The new technology works with existing datalink hardware: “DyNAMO is software, so it doesn’t require buying new radios or acquiring additional network hardware,” Kofford said. “It’s lightweight software that can reside on an Android device, like a tablet or a phone. In our experimentations, we were running DyNAMO on tablets and phones, as well as on laptops and similar devices. That’s a stark contrast to using a large centralized gateway that resides on a large aircraft.”

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