SITIS Archives - Topic Details
Program:  SBIR
Topic Num:  AF071-062 (AirForce)
Title:  Reliable Networking over Intermittent Wireless Connections of Airborne Networks
Research & Technical Areas:  Information Systems

  STATEMENT OF INTENT: Enable seamless connectivity across airborne, space, and terrestrial networks.
  Objective:  Develop Data-Link, Network, and/or Transport layer protocol(s), interoperable with standard Internet protocols, which provide(s) reliable performance over intermittent wireless connections of Airborne Networks.
  Description:  The Department of Defense (DoD) is engaged in initial efforts to develop an IP-based airborne network (AN) which interconnects mobile airborne platforms and provides interconnectivity with space and terrestrial networks. The planned future Airborne Network (AN) will include a “core” of loitering/orbiting aircraft which will provide inter-networking over multiple heterogeneous wireless links. This objective, however, is confronted by several technology challenges that require technology innovation at the Data-link, Network, and/or Transport layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model. Networking protocols originally developed for the terrestrial-based Internet (i.e., the TCP/IP protocol suite) perform quite poorly in lossy and intermittent connectivity environments such as those expected in the Airborne Network. In contrast to the high degree of research applied to IP communication over space links [1] and terrestrial mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs), there has been minimal research applied to address the challenges specific to airborne networks. Challenges particular to the AN include the following: • Airborne network connections may be comprised of multiple hops of heterogeneous links, including wireless Line of Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) links. • Airborne network links will undergo intermittent blockages/outages due to platform dynamics (pitch, yaw, and roll). • Links will be of variable quality, in terms of signal strength, error rates, and throughput • Links will be exposed to jamming and intercept threats • Link addition, subtraction, reconfiguration, and compensation will occur as a result of nodal mobility and dynamic network membership • Solutions must be interoperable with standard internet protocols to enable interconnectivity with space and terrestrial networks Technology innovation is required that can address some or all of these challenges. Using the Open Systems Interconnect (OSI) Reference Model as a framework, technology innovation is required at the Data-link, Network, and/or Transport layers. New Data-link, Network, and/or Transport layer protocols must be developed – or existing protocols adapted – to deliver predictable, reliable communications over the heterogeneous, intermittent, time-varying wireless connections of the airborne network core. Additional information on the Airborne Network can be found at [2].

  PHASE I: Identify a candidate set of Data-link, Network, and/or Transport layer protocols (either existing protocols that have been modified – or develop new open architecture protocols) that enable reliable and predictable performance over an airborne network. Model or simulate the protocol performance relative to comparable baseline of Internet standard protocols within an AN scenario.
  
  PHASE II: Prototype an implementation of the protocols and demonstrate the prototype system in an experimental environment.

  DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION: Military application: Airborne networks will allow information such as navigational data, targets, intel, and bombing results to flow freely among manned and unmanned aircraft. Commercial application: Airborne networks will allow each plane to transmit its identity, precise location, speed, and heading to other planes to enable coordination among planes about optimum routes, how to separate, etc.

  References:  1. Space Communications Protocol Standards (SCPS) web site http://www.scps.org/scps/ 2. ESC HERBB Airborne Networking web site, http://www.herbb.hanscom.af.mil/Hot_Buttons/Airborne_Networking/index.htm. 3. MIT’s Technology Review Magazine, http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=14407&ch=infotech 4. Airborne Internet Consortium, http://www.airborneinternet.org/

Keywords:  Airborne Network, Mobile and Ad-hoc Networking, MANET, Data-link Layer Protocols, Network Layer Protocols, Transport Layer Protocols, Reliable Networking

Additional Information, Corrections, References, etc:

Questions and Answers:
Q: 1. What are the bandwidth requirements?

2. What kind of information would be transmitted would it be something that would benefit from having QoS?

3. Is this information sensitive does it have to be encrypted prior to transmission?

4. Have you looked into current Mesh network technology to help implement this? If so what do you feel the shortcomings of Mesh network technology are in this application?

5. Would optical network technology be of interest as part of a solution?
A: 1. The Airborne Network (AN) does not currently exist. We are asking for innovative approaches that address the challenges to enable the AN. In terms of bandwidth, link capacity will be a function of distance, antenna gain, poewer levels and interference.

2. There are no traffic types specific to the Air Force. It's possible the AN will support all types of traffic. The Government should not constain the possible set of innovative solutions.

3. This SBIR does not mention encryption in order to encourage a broader range of solicitation.

4. We have no opinions for or against mesh technology. Innovative approaches are left to the proposer.

5. Optical technology is mentioned in Reference Number 2 to this topic AF071-062).
Q: 1. What applications is the network expected to support (e.g. FTP, HTTP, telnet, etc.)?

2. What is the expected range of distances between nodes?
A: 1. The SBIR solicitation for AF071-062 asks for innovative ideas to address the challenges of a future Airborne Network (AN). Generally, we cannot answer specific questions about the attributes of a system that does not yet exist. Within the AN, the protocols used may be existing protocols that have been modified or newly developed open architecture protocols. This is left to the proposer. The premise is that any user can reach any other via IP addressability. The AN needs to be interoperable with the Global Information Grid (GIG) which uses TCP. Please see Reference #2 to the solicitation.

2. Future AN Nodes will use any communications links available to them and may consist of Line-of-Site (LOS) links, Beyond Line of Site (BLOS) links, optical links, wideband links, etc. Please see reference #2 to the solicitation.
Q: 1. What is the maximum relative speed among all airbone objects?
2. Also, What are the typical ground speeds of all airbone objects?
3. Can an existing wireless network being applied to this application?
A: 1-2. In our request for innovative ideas to provide reliable networking for future airborne networks we are reluctant to constrain these ideas with specific air or ground speeds, which may or may not be correct for future systems.

3. Given the highly dynamic nature of the network due to nodal mobility -- in which relative node speeds are measured in Mach, not meters per second -- the resulting intermittency of connecting links will most likely preclude use of existing wireless networks, and hence the call for technology innovation.
Q: 1. What are the bandwidth requirements?

2. What kind of information would be transmitted would it be something that would benefit from having QoS?

3. Is this information sensitive does it have to be encrypted prior to transmission?

4. Have you looked into current Mesh network technology to help implement this? If so what do you feel the shortcomings of Mesh network technology are in this application?

5. Would optical network technology be of interest as part of a solution?
A: 1. The Airborne Network (AN) does not currently exist. We are asking for innovative approaches that address the challenges to enable the AN. In terms of bandwidth, link capacity will be a function of distance, antenna gain, poewer levels and interference.

2. There are no traffic types specific to the Air Force. It's possible the AN will support all types of traffic. The Government should not constain the possible set of innovative solutions.

3. This SBIR does not mention encryption in order to encourage a broader range of solicitation.

4. We have no opinions for or against mesh technology. Innovative approaches are left to the proposer.

5. Optical technology is mentioned in Reference Number 2 to this topic AF071-062).
Q: 1. What applications is the network expected to support (e.g. FTP, HTTP, telnet, etc.)?

2. What is the expected range of distances between nodes?
A: 1. The SBIR solicitation for AF071-062 asks for innovative ideas to address the challenges of a future Airborne Network (AN). Generally, we cannot answer specific questions about the attributes of a system that does not yet exist. Within the AN, the protocols used may be existing protocols that have been modified or newly developed open architecture protocols. This is left to the proposer. The premise is that any user can reach any other via IP addressability. The AN needs to be interoperable with the Global Information Grid (GIG) which uses TCP. Please see Reference #2 to the solicitation.

2. Future AN Nodes will use any communications links available to them and may consist of Line-of-Site (LOS) links, Beyond Line of Site (BLOS) links, optical links, wideband links, etc. Please see reference #2 to the solicitation.
Q: 1. What is the maximum relative speed among all airbone objects?
2. Also, What are the typical ground speeds of all airbone objects?
3. Can an existing wireless network being applied to this application?
A: 1-2. In our request for innovative ideas to provide reliable networking for future airborne networks we are reluctant to constrain these ideas with specific air or ground speeds, which may or may not be correct for future systems.

3. Given the highly dynamic nature of the network due to nodal mobility -- in which relative node speeds are measured in Mach, not meters per second -- the resulting intermittency of connecting links will most likely preclude use of existing wireless networks, and hence the call for technology innovation.

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