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FOENEX Special Notice

Solicitation Number: DARPA-SN-11-53
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Location: Contracts Management Office
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DARPA-SN-11-53
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Special Notice
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Added: Jul 28, 2011 3:50 pm
Fifteen days after publication of this notice, the Strategic Technology Office (STO) of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) intends to issue a request for proposal to Johns Hopkins University - Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU-APL) to increase the number of optical modems by 3, from 8 to 11, with an option to upgrade these three modems to 40 Gbps under contract HR0011-10-C-0127. Specifically, JHU/APL is currently required to develop, field test and provide up to 8 FSO terminals with advanced Optical Modem units, among other equipment. The proposed modification will increase the units of Optical Modem from 8 to 11, with an option to upgrade these 3 modems to 40 Gbps.

Three additional Optical Modem units will be required for delivery to the USAF/Big Safari Blue Devil Block II (BDII) program, with participation in their independent system test and evaluation of the equipment this fall. The BDII program purchased FOENEX optical terminals from AOptix last winter, but did not understand that the JHU/APL Optical Modem is a necessary component to get the robust communications performance FOENEX had demonstrated previously. (BDII will consider purchasing the FOENEX router at a later date if the FOENEX data links prove successful in the fall evaluation.) In addition, this effort will provide an independent evaluation of FOENEX communications links in providing operational ISR data dissemination against FOENEX metrics.


The Optical Modem unit, which includes an Optical Automatic Gain Control (OAGC) and Forward Error Correction, is the key subsystem for compensating for large channel fading (up to a factor of 10,000) to yield error-free 10.3 Gigabit per second (Gbps) data rate under high atmospheric turbulent conditions. Optical Modem integration with Free-Space Optical (FSO) and Radio Frequency (RF) communications terminals and stochastic network routers, will allow the demonstration of highly reliable, robust, and high data rate hybrid FSO/RF communications among space, airborne and ground platforms. This effort leverages progress made by JHU/APL in enhancing the Optical Modem under the current Free-space Optical Experimental Network EXperiment (FOENEX) contract.


The integrated system will be evaluated in a field environment like the Nevada Testing and Training Range (NTTR), White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), or similar location. The proposed effort builds upon previous research with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and DARPA where JHU/APL developed a unique, robust Optical Modem design, which was the critical technological breakthrough for enabling robust high-data-rate FSO communications (FSOC) through severe turbulence over long ranges. The embedded OAGC capability was previously integrated into a hybrid FSO and RF airborne networking ORCA brassboard system and demonstrated initial long-range, high-data-rate communication that had never before been accomplished with previous research over the past 30 years. This notice of intent is not a request for competitive proposals and no solicitation is currently available. There is no commitment by the Government to issue a solicitation, make an award or awards, or to be responsible for any monies expended by any interested parties before award of a contract for the effort mentioned above. Information provided herein is subject to change and in no way binds the Government to solicit for or award a contract. Point of contact for this synopsis is Contracting Officer; Robin Swatloski; SN11-53@darpa.mil. See Note 22.

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