DARPA aims to improve military communications using millimeter wave band

ARLINGTON, Va. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced what it calls its Millimeter-Wave Digital Arrays (MIDAS) program, which intends to develop element-level digital phased-array technology that will enable next-generation millimeter wave systems for use by the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. military services.

DARPA’s Millimeter-Wave Digital Arrays (MIDAS) program looks to expand the use of phased-arrays and make them broadly applicable across systems. To accomplish its goals, the program will focus on developing a common digital array tile at millimeter wave that will enable multibeam directional communications, which is represented in this artist’s concept. Illustration: DARPA.

MIDAS seeks to create a common digital array tile that will enable multibeam directional communications, according to DARPA documents. Research efforts will focus on reducing the size and power of digital millimeter wave transceivers, thereby enabling phased-array technology for use on mobile platforms and elevating mobile communications to the less-crowded millimeter wave frequencies.

Advances in element-level digital in phased-array designs is enabling new multibeam communications schemes -- defined as the use of several beams receiving and transmitting in multiple directions simultaneously -- to help significantly reduce node discovery time and improve network throughput. “While critical to the next generation of phased arrays, today’s digital beamforming is limited to lower frequencies, making the resulting arrays too large for use on small mobile platforms,” said DARPA program manager Dr. Timothy Hancock.

Advances in millimeter wave technology will enable reduction in the size of the arrays and help push the frequency of operation to higher bands, which will bring the capabilities of directional antennas to small mobile platforms. “Through MIDAS, we are seeking proposals that combine advances in millimeter wave and digital beamforming technologies to create radios that will deliver secure communications for our ,” said Hancock.

To that end, DARPA has released a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) detailing its vision for the four-year-long program. Interested parties may visit the DARPA website or the BAA for more information.

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