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Communications and Networking

The goal of the Communications and Networking program is to support the Navy's Information Warfare vision by developing measurable advances in technology to improve end-to-end connectivity and quality-of-service for mission-critical information exchange among widely dispersed naval, joint, and coalition forces. The vision is to provide high throughput, robust communications and networking to ensure all warfighters — from the operational command to the tactical edge — have access to information, knowledge, and decision-making necessary to perform their assigned tasks.

Protected data transport and resilient networking are at the heart of the network-centric paradigm of the Fleet Tactical Grid needed to successfully meet the ‘data to decisions’ timelines for distributed maritime operations. These communication systems — netting C2, sensor, and weapon systems — are deployed on a variety of platforms, both manned and unmanned, operating under challenging battlefield conditions (lack of infrastructure and interoperability, mobility, spectrum, interference, contested RF, multipath, inclement weather, size/weight/power constraints, etc.) in different environments (space, aerial, terrestrial and undersea). Innovative technologies and techniques that mitigate communications system impairments and help improve performance and reliability consistent with Naval mission requirements are at the cornerstone of this R&D program.

Research Concentration Areas

The Communications and Networking Program supports basic and applied research and development of antennas, radio communications and mobile wireless networking relevant to naval applications.

  • Interest areas in antenna technology include:
    • Electrically-small antennas
    • Wideband multifunction antennas
    • Compatibility of phased array antennas with naval platforms and marine environments
    • Directional beam forming/steering techniques
    • Special-purpose submarine communication antenna systems.
  • Areas of interest in radio communications include:
    • Anti-jam and low-probability-of-intercept techniques
    • SATCOM performance enhancements
    • Interference mitigation
    • Adaptive equalization
    • Bandwidth-efficient modulation and coding
    • Cognitive radio for dynamic spectrum management
    • High data-rate tactical data links including communications at speed and depth (for submarines.)
  • Areas of interest in wireless networks include:
    • Mobile ad-hoc wireless networking algorithms/protocols
    • End-to-end quality-of-service
    • Joint/coalition interoperability
    • Service-oriented tactical networking
    • Mission-based policy
    • Network controls and management

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Spectrum/energy efficient apertures and radios:
    • Create new techniques to improve gain-bandwidth product for electrically small antennas
    • Affordable and lightweight multi-beam actively-scanned apertures, both RF and FSO (free space optical)
    • Underwater electromagnetic communication transmitter and receiver technologies
  • Tactical Communications:
    • Develop low-observable high-bandwidth EO/IR and RF waveforms with cognitive spectrum utilization and electronic protection
    • Investigate and develop machine learning techniques for robust classical and quantum communications
    • Dynamic topology control and scheduling in simultaneous multi-beam directional networks
    • Resilient SATCOM
  • Tactical Networking:
    • Develop secure networking protocols and algorithms for tactical systems that are efficient and resilient to data loss, dynamic partition and merge, and node/link failures
    • Create new paradigms and middleware for service oriented architecture operation on low-latency, low-bandwidth tactical-edge networks
    • AI-based techniques for autonomous network management by translating Commander's intent into network policies

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please refer to our broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-22-S-B001.

Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.

Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.


Das, Santanu Dr.
Program Officer
Code 311