Technology for Transmitting and Receiving Airborne, High-Speed, Wideband, Covert Communications

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-111
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-111 TITLE: Technology for Transmitting and Receiving Airborne, High-Speed, Wideband, Covert Communications

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR);Networked C3


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a low-cost, covert, high-speed, high-density means of transmitting and receiving broadband data for use on Navy Land/Sea/Air platforms.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Navy requires a high-capacity, covert communication link providing two-way communication through free space. This communication link must be covert, or undetectable, which has a low probability of intercept (LPI) or a low probability of detection (LPD) and cannot be susceptible to jamming. The communication path must allow for fast, large-data transfer(s) from one aircraft to another aircraft and/or sea- or land-based hub. The types of data include, but are not limited to, the following types of data: maritime tactical information, imagery (Still and Full Motion Video), Synthetic Aperture Radar, Multi-and hyper-spectral imagers, Precise Navigation and Timing (PNT) data, Electronic Warfare, and Acoustic data.

The goal of this SBIR topic is to develop a covert, wideband communication device that supports a 100 Mbps data transfer rate at line of sight ranges (150 nm). The first challenge for many engineers in wireless communication design is how to overcome white Gaussian noise. The proliferation of wireless technologies has also added hostile noises as a major cause of interference. A covert, high-bandwidth communication device could overcome a harsh Gaussian environment even with the addition of hostile noises while maintaining a high-bandwidth data transfer. If Radio Frequency (RF) is used as the transmission source, desired bands are L band to X band, Ku band, and Ka band ability with the ability to transmit and receive (TR/RX) in multiple bands. The volume of the device should be less than 4.5 ft3 (0.127 m≥). The weight should be less than 50 pounds (22.7 kg). The estimated cost per unit should be less than $50K per kit. Conformal antennas are desired to limit the drag impacts on the host aircraft. The system is required to be undetectable outside of the main beam (i.e., highly directional, meaning you have to be in the path to intercept). For RF, the system should be able to null noise sources, in addition to being a non-detectible signal below the RF noise floor and agile enough to mitigate against jamming sources. The desire is to limit the number of moving parts to reduce the sustainment footprint of this device.

PHASE I: Develop, design, and demonstrate a strategy, taking into consideration the feasibility and suitability for a covert high-speed, high-capacity airborne communication link. Identify potential roadblocks likely to be encountered and possible roadblock solutions. Recommend an architecture and implementation plan. Illustrate the benefits of being able to pass high-speed, high-capacity data covertly. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Based on the architecture and algorithms, develop a working prototype to include high-level requirements, software development, testing, and demonstration.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Perform final testing, and finalize the prototype. Develop platform integration execution plans, and engineering documentation, suitable for the transition of a functional prototype.

Covert netted high-bandwidth communications, wireless sensors and multimedia communications are increasingly becoming a required asset for success in modern society. As a result, issues surrounding their effective use, safety, and security are becoming more important. Even for commercial applications, covert commercial communication platforms will help protect private and sensitive information by reducing the possibility of interception and compromise.

Additionally, wireless communications often suffer from hostile noises or hostile noise environments. This would have commercial use for anyone who uses wireless technologies.


  1. National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences Naval Studies Board, Committee on C4ISR for Future Naval Strike Groups. "C4ISR for future naval strike groups." National Academies Press, 2006.
  2. Perkins, W. and Pizzimenti, N. "Alliance airborne anti-submarine warfare." NATO Joint Air Power Competence Centre, June 2016.
  3. "DoD 5220.22-M National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (Incorporating Change 2, May 18, 2016)." Department of Defense, February 28, 2006.

KEYWORDS: Covert; network; high-capacity; RF; optical; survivable; communications


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.2 SBIR BAA pre-release on April 21, which opens to receive proposals on May 19, 2021, and closes June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt).

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