From The Editor | August 17, 2022

WANTED: RF & Microwave Innovators To Support Defense, National Security Advances

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By Abby Proch, Editor

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In order to thrive — survive, even, in the midst of growing global competition — the U.S. government relies heavily on its relationship with industry and academia and their combined ability to provide nutritive technologies and solutions that fortify U.S. efforts in military and defense, national security, space exploration, medical advances, and more. 

Realizations had amid international crises like the Russia-Ukraine war and China’s march toward technological supremacy have yielded strong military and defense spending. And the sector’s dependence on industry and academia for innovation holds fast.

A few ago, Senate Democrats proposed a $792 billion defense spending package — up roughly 9% for fiscal year 2022 — that includes $1.4 billion to expand industrial base capacity, $2.2 billion to accelerate military capabilities in space, and $1.8 billion to update test and evaluation infrastructure for emerging technologies. It is roughly $30 million more than a budget proposed by the House. The two chambers are expected to land on a final amount come Sept. 30, but skeptics say a budget extension may be needed if they don’t agree in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Even outside military and defense, there are no shortage of federal programs and funding opportunities for the innovators to latch onto. Established corporations, fledgling startups, and prospective entrepreneurs alike have reason to watch closely the announcements that crop up in search of the best and brightest. Here is just a sample of solutions government is seeking from industry and academic innovators in the RF and microwave space:

  • RFA-CA-22-017: Small Business Transition Grant For Early Career Scientists (R42 Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (nih.gov)
  • NSIC – Commercial Acceleration Opportunity (CAO) for topics in autonomy, communications, power, sensors, space
  • Agency announcements from the Defense SBIR/STTR Innovation Portal span military and defense, test and measurement, and satellite communications applications
    • 10 MW Microwave Source Set with C- to Low K-Band Coverage — Develop a microwave source set that produces 20 MW, maximizes C- to low K-band coverage (4-20 GHz).
    • X-Band RF Linear Accelerator — Deliver a compact, high current X-band RF linear accelerator to the Air Force Research Laboratory.
    • High Power Microwaves Applications for Water Conservation — Develop a compact high power microwave system outputting a very high power burst of energy in a narrowband and tunable frequency region to demonstrate whether High Power Electromagnetics to can conserve water resources in harsh conditions.
    • Software-Defined Networking (SDN) enable Satellite Bandwidth on Demand — Develop proper interfaces, solution architectures, and requirements to support the software-defined networking (SDN)-based flexible satellite bandwidth on demand.
    • Prediction of human tissue heating due to near-field RF exposure — Develop automated tools for predicting the heating of human tissue from exposure to RF emitting devices.
    • Epitaxial Growth of Galium Oxide for Next-Gen Microwave Electronics — Develop and demonstrate industrially scalable manufacturing of these microelectronic-grade epitaxial thin films, including demonstrating the ability to scalability fabricate device-relevant doped epi-stacks.
    • GPS Interference Direction of Arrival (DoA) Initiative for User Purposes (GIDI-UP) — Develop GPS interference direction finding sensor for surface and subsurface vessels to provide situational awareness of jamming and/or spoofing signals.
    • Novel Metrology Solutions for Space Based Antennas — Develop technology capable of providing advanced metrology for large space-based antenna arrays.