DOD awards $32.6 million in spectrum OTAs

concept image of radio communication (DARPA) 

The Defense Department has awarded $32.6 million to invest in electromagnetic spectrum management tools.

The awards were made to three companies that are a part of the National Spectrum Consortium: Peraton Labs, which will get $18 million for its Operational Spectrum Comprehension, Analytics, and Response (OSCAR) solution for a near-real time, automated method to improve spectrum use efficiency; Leidos, which gets $8.4 million for its RISA or Risk Informed Spectrum Access solution targeting spectrum deconfliction in space, time, and frequency; and Shared Spectrum Company, which will get $6.2 million for its Multiband Instrumented Control Channel Architecture (MICCA) solution for which Peraton is a subcontractor.

The awards were made via an other transaction agreement (OTA) through the National Spectrum Consortium. DOD has increasingly used OTAs to rapidly buy and fund prototype development as well as fielding new technologies.

"These awards are the latest in a series of prototype capabilities that provide warfighters many of the capabilities they need to operate in an increasingly constrained, congested, and contested EMS environment," said National Spectrum Consortium Executive Director Maren Leed in a statement. She added: "Importantly, these same tools help to ensure that our armed forces can train effectively here at home using spectrum shared with the commercial enterprises that drive our national economic growth."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signed the classified implementation plan for the Pentagon's Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) strategy released in 2020 in July. And the department has been tweaking its policies regarding proper governance for EMS activities across DOD -- which has previously yielded "bureaucratic and organizational hindrances", according to a Government Accountability Office report earlier this year.

Frederick Moorefield, deputy CIO for command, control, and communications previously told FCW that getting an automated electromagnetic battle management tool was a priority and essential to concepts like Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

"To drill down on the spectrum piece there, you cannot have JADC2 with a static spectrum management process, you [have] to have flexible and adaptable, software defined kind of operations to allow those systems to be able to, as they move across a grid and they're mobile and you have all this connectivity," Moorefield said, noting that the ultimate goal was having fully autonomous capabilities for machine-to-machine communications.

"EMBM -- electromagnetic magnetic spectrum battle management tool-- is another piece of that. That's part of the spectrum IT enterprise. That automation piece is going to be key," he said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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