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Request for Information (RFI) For A Waveform Development Environment (WDE)

Solicitation Number: RFI-RIK-14-01
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Office: Air Force Material Command
Location: AFRL/RIK - Rome
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Special Notice
Added: Jun 20, 2014 12:38 pm
Announcement Type: Special Notice

Classification Code: Research and Development

Synopsis: Requests for Information (RFI) For a Waveform Development Environment (WDE)


This publication constitutes a Request for Information (RFI) as defined in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 15.201(e), Exchanges with Industry before receipt of Proposals, Requests for Information". Respondents should note that no funding has been specifically reserved for this announcement. We are soliciting Requests for Information abstracts only. Do not submit a white paper or proposal at this time.


The RFI seeks to obtain technical concepts, approaches, and merits of the ideas or work in Waveform Development Environment (WDE) research. Further, it seeks to obtain information about pricing, delivery, and other market information or capabilities for possible use in an upcoming Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). This announcement is not a request for proposals; therefore, responses to the RFI are not considered offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. NO PROPRIETARY OR CLASSIFIED INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE RFI RESPONSE. Refer to Section 3 of this announcement for instructions on submitting an RFI abstract.


To help guide the RFI process the following questions would be appropriate and should be considered when responding to this request.

1. What are you trying to do?
2. How is it done today?
3. What is new or innovative in your approach?
4. If you are successful, what difference will it make?
5. What are the risks and payoffs?
6. How much will it cost? How long will it take?
7. What are the midterm and final "exams" to check for success?

Abstracts should contain in sufficient detail to enable the Government to determine whether the technical concept and/or capabilities should be reflected in a future BAA.


Submission of an abstract is voluntary and is not required to propose to subsequent Broad Agency Announcements (if any) on this topic. Respondents are advised that AFRL is under no obligation to provide feedback with respect to any information submitted under this RFI.

RFI abstract due date is 25 JUL 2014.


The broad picture of this RFI is focusing on flexible RF systems capable of hosting multiple payloads (communications, signal classification, etc) , multiple functions, and dynamic attributes tailored to various missions and operational scenarios to include spectrally constrained waveform design. This RFI is requesting information from three main areas: Waveform Development Environment (WDE), Software Defined Radio Frequency (SDRF) Hardware Architectures, and commercially available SDRF technologies. SDRF technologies may span the cost/capability range from low-end to high-end technologies supporting more advanced payload development. This includes but is not limited to: development on FPGA, other embedded systems, or GNU Radio. Models, hardware and software are all of interest.

2.1 Waveform Development Environment (WDE)

First, what is a waveform? Conceptually, a communications waveform is simply a transformation of information from one form (e.g. voice or audio signals) to another (e.g. radio frequency signals) for transmission between two separated points. A waveform is often synonymous with a hardware-based single function radio. Waveform specifications often include special system constraints that can affect the waveform implementation in software, firmware, and hardware. Examples of these system constraints include end-to-end latency, information security, concurrency, user interface, reliability, spectrum availability, control and management. Thus, the waveform specification may contain system criteria that impact the engineering trade space of a particular implementation for a particular environment. These factors must be taken into consideration when developing radio waveform applications as well as the tools and techniques to support their development.

With rigorous and continually evolving specifications and requirements, rapid development, testing, and production of waveforms is slow, costly, and rarely portable to other systems. A Waveform Development Environment (WDE) enables a waveform to rapidly traverse the design process and deliver production-grade capabilities. A WDE will ideally have many of the same features of current software Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) such as Net Beans and Eclipse. This may include a source code editor and build automation tools; some form of fast and intelligent code completion features; likely some form of compiler or interpreter, or both; if feasible for the platform, a simulation/emulation capability; a fast version control system, such as Git; and, last, a simple, yet powerful debugger and debugging process.

2.2 Software Defined Radio (SDR) Hardware Architecture

The basic SDR includes the radio front-end, the modem, the cryptographic security function, and the application function. Some radios will also provide for control of external radio frequency (RF) analog functions such as antenna management, coax switches, power amplifiers, or special-purpose filters. The RF front-end (RFFE) consists of the following multi-band functions to support the receive mode: antenna-matching unit, low-noise amplifier, filters, local oscillators, and analog-to-digital (A/D) converters (ADCs) to capture the desired signal and suppress undesired signals to a practical extent.

There are many approaches and influences for SDR development, yet they lack a common core and waveform description language. The GNU Radio is a popular open-source implementation for SDR techniques built on Linux and Intel processors. There are other approaches that wrap SDR techniques around different software/hardware architecture standards. What a truly powerful WDE needs is the capability of a shared core capability supporting multiple SDR implementations similar to the picture below.  (See document entitled "Shared Core Capability" Document attached to this RFI for the picture).

Discuss the capabilities of your architecture such as voice, video, and other data types/media.

2.3 Low Cost Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) SDR Technology

The last technical section of this RFI seeks what technology is already available commercially and at a relatively low cost (e.g., <$5k/unit) for SDRs. While it is unlikely that current COTS products contain features from both sections 4.1 and 4.2, there may be some economical commercial products that are on the boundaries of not only practical SDR development, but also next-generation waveform development.

Discuss the performance parameters of your hardware. If applicable, include form factors, nominal Tx output power, frequency ranges, bandwidths, throughput, frequency hopping, number of channels, operating environment (lab, handheld, vehicle, airborne).



All abstracts shall state that they are submitted in response to this announcement and identify which category (categories) the response is applicable.

RFI responses shall include the company name, address and the title, telephone number, mail and e-mail addresses of the point of contact having the authority and knowledge to discuss the RFI submission.

The abstracts should state the specific problem area, the technology proposed, the approach, and the potential advantage to the Air Force. A rough order of magnitude for the cost and a proposed duration of the effort should also be part of the RFI. NO PROPRIETARY OR CLASSIFIED INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE RFI RESPONSE.


Multiple abstracts within the purview of this RFI announcement may be submitted by each responder.


All responses to this announcement must be addressed to the TPOC, as listed in Section 4.0 of this announcement. Respondents are required to submit at least one electronic copy to the Government Technical POC (TPOC) in Microsoft Office Word or PDF. You are strongly encouraged to confirm receipted of any electronically transmitted documents.

RFI abstract due date is 25 JUL 2014.


Cover Page (1 page only)

Respondents are requested to provide their company name, address, phone number, Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) number, their Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, an e-mail address, and reference this RFI with their submission. As well as Respondent's technical and administrative points of contact (names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses).

Abstract (1 page only)

Summarize technical concepts, associated technical challenges as well as approaches to address the enumerated technical challenges. Respondents are encouraged to be as succinct as possible while providing sufficient detail to adequately convey the technical concepts, challenges and approaches.

Technology/Concept Description (2 pages only)

Provide an enhanced view of the technical concepts you are proposing, focusing on the advantages of the technology application and its applicability to the future Air Force needs, indicating if the idea is near-, mid-, or far-term. The description of each solution should include the current state of development and the predicted performance levels the technology should reasonably achieve. The description should justify why this is a revolutionary and not evolutionary idea but also provide evidence as to its technical realism/feasibility. This should include a technology readiness level, manufacturing readiness level (if appropriate), and cost.

Applicability to Future Air Force needs (optional) (1 page only)

Identify and expound upon the most desirable application through the Air Force, concentrating on the added capability this solution provides that currently does not exist. Make it clear how this revolutionary S&T addresses AF specific needs, distinct from those of other government organizations (e.g., DoE, DARPA, Army, Navy, Marines) although relating and leveraging these organizations as appropriate. The description should state if this is an area where the Air Force is expected to be a technology leader (lead AF mission and lead investor), follower (adopt, adapt, or augment an effort external to the AF), or watcher.


Verification of government receipt or questions of a technical nature can also be directed to the Technical POC (TPOC).

Primary TPOC
Lt Trevor J. Vranicar
Telephone: (315) 330-4243

Questions of a contractual/business nature shall be directed to the contracting officer, as specified below:

Gail Marsh
Telephone: (315) 330-7518

Please consult the list of document viewers if you cannot open a file.

Shared Core Capability Picture

Other (Draft RFPs/RFIs, Responses to Questions, etc..)
Shared Core Capability Picture
Posted Date:
June 20, 2014
Description: Shared Core Capability Picture
26 Electronic Parkway
Rome, New York 13441-4514
United States
Gail E. Marsh,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 315-330-7518