NIWC and IARPA release EQuAL-P BAA
On December 3, the Naval Information Warfare Center, in collaboration with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), issued a broad agency announcement (BAA) for the Effective Quantitative Antenna Limits for Performance (EQuAL-P) program. Proposals are due by 4:00 p.m. Pacific on February 4, 2022 for the initial round of selections.
The Government is seeking innovative solutions for the EQuAL-P program in this BAA. EQuAL-P is envisioned to be a 45-month effort, beginning approximately July 15, 2022, through April 15, 2026.
The Intelligence Community (IC) and the Department of Defense (DoD) missions often require the use of electrically small antennas (ESAs) where the size of the antenna is significantly smaller than the wavelength of operation, fundamentally limiting the antenna performance. The EQuAL-P program aims to realize significant gains in the performance of ESAs by employing active and/or time varying solutions.
Of particular relevance to the IC and DoD, is the product of antenna bandwidth (β ) and radiation efficiency (η ) for many operations involving radio frequency (RF) transmission and reception. This BAA uses the definition of electrical smallness given by ka < ½ where k is the operational wavenumber and a corresponds to the radius of the imaginary Chu sphere enclosing the antenna.
In some transmit (Tx) and receive (Rx) applications, the electrical size of an antenna may limit its ability to operate at multiple carrier frequencies, to handle wideband signals (e.g., direct sequence spread spectrum) without distortion, and/or to support higher data rates as described by the well-known Shannon limit for channel capacity. It is well known that antenna bandwidth may be increased at the expense of radiation efficiency, but this tradeoff is often problematic for many operations.
In the case of some transmit operations, the overall system efficiency may be critical due to limited available power or energy or due to limitations for heat exchange meant to keep the system cool and linear. For both Rx and Tx, the need to optimize the signal to noise ratio (SNR) is also often critical especially in noisy environments. EQuAL-P seeks transmit solutions that are “plug-in” efficient with values of η effectively equal to 50% or higher, although lower levels might be acceptable especially for ka << 1.
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