4.9 Software Radios
8. DARPA should carry out research and demonstration projects designed to field software radio technology for military applications.
Software radio is a far more versatile technology than the term ''radio" implies. These radios can operate as part of a network and perform a vast array of electronic and computational functions (e.g., database management, transcryption) through the downloading of software. A networked radio can function in ways not envisioned when the component is manufactured. In a military scenario, some radios can function as active interrogators while others act in a passive manner, undetected but coordinated by active units. Similarly, software radios can perform services that until now were unique to each application.
A software radio could be a leading part of the C4I infrastructure: With appropriate software it could be applied to signal intelligence, electronic intelligence, communications navigation and identification, electronic warfare, information warfare, electronic countermeasures, missile tracking, guidance, or commercial paging or telephony. The cost-effectiveness of software radios increases with the number of available software functions, the ease of performing new tasks, and the ease of cooperating with other network systems to accomplish larger tasks. The multiple roles that can be played by software radios could have an impact on DOD's organizational structure, as services provided by individual organizations and procurements are combined in one system.
Commercial software radios are likely to have more limited capabilities (e.g., changing signals and bandwidth on a single frequency) than are military versions, which are being designed to span large frequency ranges and implement many legacy waveforms. However, the commercial sector is achieving rapid advances in many software-radio components, such as A/D converters, DSP chips, RF amplifiers, displays, batteries, and data-storage devices. The DOD can use these COTS products to good advantage. At the same time, DARPA needs to undertake specialized R&D focusing on antennas (Sections 4.10) and filters (Section 4.12) for military applications. Exploratory research on novel components and designs could also be beneficial (Section 4.13). In addition, to identify any necessary improvements and make optimal use of this promising technology, DARPA needs to demonstrate software radio technology on defense platforms where density, power, and weight are critical.
4.10 Smart Antennas
9. DARPA should conduct the research needed to adapt smart antennas for mobile military applications.