DARPA posts ACT-IV PUCK RFI
On October 12, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency posted a request for information on ACT-IV PUCK Aperture. Responses are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on November 12.
This Request for Information from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) seeks information on phased array aperture design and fabrication methods that reduce Non-recurring Engineering (NRE) costs and enable the DoD to realize the full impact and performance of reconfigurable, programmable, and software defined functionality of hardware assets.
This RFI is seeking information about the current practices and limitations of building radio frequency (RF) personality systems that DARPA intends to use to develop a future ACT-IV PUCK Aperture Broad Agency Announcement (BAA).
To maintain technology dominance, the Department of Defense (DOD) is developing next generation systems that support reconfigurable, programmable, and software definable functionality in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS). Such technology now drives the next generation of phased array technology, which will be built on top of highly flexible, scalable, and reconfigurable RF phased array digital backends. These digitized array modules operate over wide frequency bands and support many independent transmit and receive (i.e., Tx/Rx) channels in a low size, weight, and power (SWaP) form factor.
Such digital architectures enable a single array to perform multiple functions (e.g., RADAR, communications, signal intelligence/electronic intelligence, and electronic warfare (EW)). As such, these digital solutions should significantly reduce the NRE of fielding specific array capabilities because of the commonality within the electronics, the ease of upgradability, and transfer of software modes. In general, the future flexibility needed by the next generation arrays is pushing towards common and standardized interfaces that allow for the separation of an RF frontend and the digital backend, also known as a digital receiver/exciter (DREX).
When separating the front and backends, the DOD requires custom array apertures with specific “RF personalities” to support mission-specific requirements in terms of amplification for appropriate power, filtering for interference management, and analog subarrays when the additional element count is required. The cost and fabrication schedule of these custom apertures often counter-acts the modularity and operational relevance of deploying next generation arrays despite capable DREX backends. This effort, known as Puck, is part of DARPA’s Arrays at Commercial Timescales – Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) program.
Full information is available here.