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01:27 PM, January 7, 2017
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Networks of the Sea Enter Next Stage

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has completed first phase of program developing temporary underwater fiber-optics communications networks to ensure connectivity when tactical networks are unavailable.

DARPA’s Tactical Undersea Network Architecture (TUNA) program recently completed its initial phase, developing concepts and technologies aimed at restoring connectivity for US forces when traditional tactical networks are knocked offline or otherwise unavailable, the agency announced Thursday.

The program now enters the next phase, which calls for the demonstration of a prototype of the system at sea.

TUNA seeks to develop and demonstrate novel, optical-fiber-based technology options and designs to temporarily restore radio frequency (RF) tactical data networks in a contested environment via an undersea optical fiber backbone. The concept involves deploying RF network node buoys—dropped from aircraft or ships, for example—that would be connected via thin underwater fiber-optic cables.

The very-small-diameter fiber-optic cables being developed are designed to last 30 days in the rough ocean environment—long enough to provide essential connectivity until primary methods of communications are restored.

“Phase 1 of the program included successful modeling, simulation, and at-sea tests of unique fiber-cable and buoy-component technologies needed to make such an undersea architecture work,” said John Kamp, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office.

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