Reduced Hazard Antenna
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-002
MARCOR - Ms. Elizabeth Madden - [email protected]
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-002 TITLE: Reduced Hazard Antenna

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Electronics

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMM MAGTF Command, Control and Communications (MC3)

RESTRICTION ON PERFORMANCE BY FOREIGN CITIZENS (i.e., those holding non-U.S. Passports): This topic is "ITAR Restricted". The information and materials provided pursuant to or resulting from this topic are restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 - 130, which control the export of defense-related material and services, including the export of sensitive technical data. Foreign Citizens may perform work under an award resulting from this topic only if they hold the "Permanent Resident Card", or are designated as "Protected Individuals" as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1324b(a)(3). If a proposal for this topic contains participation by a foreign citizen who is not in one of the above two categories, the proposal will be rejected.

OBJECTIVE: Marine Corps Systems Command seeks innovative approaches to provide equivalent or better radiation pattern and omnidirectional gain as existing handheld or manpack radio antennas, while providing high voltage protection to reduce the risk of electrical shocks from low overhead wires for dismounted radio.

DESCRIPTION: Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) provides radio and antenna material solutions to the Marine Corps. In an operational environment, dismounted Marines can encounter low-hanging wires such as unregulated power distribution lines which present the potential for an electric shock hazard. These lines can be unpredictable in height and voltage. Dismounted Marines operate handheld or manpack radios with long whip (6 to 10 ft.) or blade antennas (3 to 4 ft) (Ref 1 and 2). The configurations allow for the possibility of an electrical shock hazard should direct contact be made with a power line. While whip antennas exhibit good size and weight characteristics for the performance they provide, they pose an electrocution risk in these types of environments due to their length and all metal construction. Intermediate length blade antennas are more manageable, but are also not designed for the electrical safety of the operator. The development of technology solutions for this type of environment creates several challenges. Electrical antennas (monopoles) need to be in upright position to perform well and display the appropriate omni-directional pattern. However, doing this increases visual cueing to the enemy. An operator in "prone" position (under fire) could also experience substantial degradation in antenna performance due to reflections off of the ground plane. While higher amplification could facilitate the use of a shorter antenna height, this could in turn negatively impact the available portable battery power carried by each warfighter as higher amplification would require more available power. Wearable antenna solutions (e.g. solution that wraps around the individual) are available; however, it could potentially pose Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Personnel (HERP) concerns. These solutions also are limited by the use of one frequency band and typically have insufficient power for communications. Loop antennas provide a means to reduce the height significantly, but with a cross-looped design (such as an eggbeater), it becomes impractical for an individual to use. Presently, a temporary solution has been deployed but this solution is a simple antenna sheathing that is considered a temporary work around and not integrated with the antenna. There are no robust viable technology solutions for this ongoing need in the application cited.

MARCORSYSCOM is looking for innovative approaches to reduce the risk to the operator by providing high-voltage protection to 20KV RMS (35KV RMS objective) while providing equivalent of better radiation pattern and omnidirectional gain, regardless of the position of the operator, as well as a solution that is difficult for the enemy to visually detect. The desired solution would be the development of an antenna that would be able to provide protection to the operator from electrocution, while 1) not being readily observable by the enemy, 2) utilized the same or less power 3) maintain the existing or improve performance, all without any permanent modifications to the current Marine Corps systems. Other potential (but less desirable) technology solutions may include, but are not limited to, manpack system redesign to incorporate effective isolating and/or grounding features including; the addition of blocking capacitors at optimum locations in antennas; use of antennas with less quantity of conductive material and/or better insulation/coatings of antennas; methods of insulation of radio housing from antenna and/or shielding of personnel from radio housing; providing a potential alternate shielded path to ground.

For maximum range and reliability, the dismounted Marine requires the antenna to be light and flexible (Ref 3 and 4). A collapsible design is not required but would be helpful for storage and transportation. The antennas/solutions of most interest are for use with handheld and manpack tactical radios in the High Frequency (HF), lower Very High Frequency (VHF) bands (2 to 88 MHz), and 33-88mhz Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) . The following handheld and manpack tactical radios use those above mentioned bands: AN/PRC-150, AN/PRC-117F, AN/PRC-117G and AN/PRC-152 (Ref 3 and 4). The radios use N Type and threaded Neill´┐ŻConcelman (TNC) antenna connectors. Concepts proposed must not negatively impact or damage the high voltage wires encountered and must pass a high voltage performance test. Proposers should be prepared to discuss the level of protection their technology solution(s) provides, the technology used to achieve a proposed level of protection, and any applicable antenna/solution performance information. Proposers should employ open architecture designs principles as much as is practicable. Preference will be given to solutions that do not cause permanent modifications to the current Marine Corps systems.

PHASE I: The company will develop concepts for an improved antenna meeting the requirements described above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the antenna. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design meeting Marine Corps requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The company will develop an antenna for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: Municipalities, law enforcement, and first responders also use radios sharing the same radio bands. A reduced size antenna with superior range and performance would also be attractive to these applications. Such applications could be both applied to both handheld or vehicle mounted applications.

REFERENCES:
1. http://www.13thmeu.marines.mil/Photos/tabid/1975/igphoto/2000014999/Default.aspx

2. http://www.2ndmlg.marines.mil/Photos/tabid/3867/igphoto/165436/Default.aspx

3. AN/PRC-150 Military HF Radio, AN/PRC-117G Wideband Tactical Radio, AN/PRC-152 Multiband Radio. http://rf.harris.com/capabilities/tactical-radios-networking

4. High Frequency Manpack Radio (HFMR) AN/PRC-150, Multi-Band Radio (MBR) AN/PRC-117F, Multi-Band Radio (MBR) AN/PRC-117G, Tactical Handheld Radio (THHR), AN/PRC-152. http://www.marcorsyscom.usmc.mil/sites/cins/TCS/COMMAND%20&%20CONTROL%20RADIOS/

KEYWORDS: antenna; tactical radio; AN/PRC-150; AN/PRC-117F; AN/PRC-117G; AN/PRC-152

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