L-3 Communications to Help DARPA Build Drone-Based Internet System

The Department of Defense awarded 13 separate defense contracts Thursday, worth $453.2 million in total. Defense contractor L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL  ) won two of them:

  • The larger of the two awards, a $38 million contract modification to an existing firm-fixed-price contract, calls for L-3 to supply non-long-lead critical spare parts needed for Royal Australian Air Force's fleet of 10 C-27J transport planes, currently on order. Delivery of these parts is due by March 2015.
  • The smaller, but perhaps more interesting award is a $16.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency -- DARPA. L-3 will be supporting Phases 2 and, if the appropriate contract option is exercised, also Phase 3 of the DARPA mobile hotspots program.

As DARPA explains on its website, this project aims to provide "high-bandwidth communications for troops in remote forward operating locations" lacking access to traditional wired Internet. If successful, this experimental program will use air, mobile, and fixed assets to create a "gigabit-per-second tactical millimeter-wave backbone network" extending from military commanders all the way down to the lowest-echelon warfighters. The UAV pods will be an integral part of this project.

In Phase 2, L-3 will be expected to deliver a "solution" consisting of radio and router pods that can be mounted aboard Shadow unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) manufactured by Textron (NYSE: TXT  ) . These pods will be used to create UAV-borne mobile hotspots in the vicinity of the UAVs. Completion of Phase 2 is expected to be achieved by March 12, 2015.


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  • Report this Comment On March 14, 2014, at 5:41 AM, twomuch2luz wrote:

    this, only looking at what is reported, is a tremendous waste of money and certainly beneath the level of genius usually related to DARPA programs. This type of network is already in use and was quite easy to implement with off the shelf technology once the router functionality was figured out. Very strange award for something that was already implemented.

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