Release Date
November 29th, 2023
Open Date
January 3rd, 2024
Due Date(s)
February 21st, 2024
Close Date
February 21st, 2024
Topic No.


Securely Operating Through 5G for Enterprise Space Data Transport Applications


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic "Securely Operating Through 5G for Enterprise Space Data Transport Applications" as part of their SBIR 24.1 BAA. The objective of this topic is to develop add-on software modules, hybrid space and terrestrial communications architectures, and enhancements to 5G technology to support the integration of 5G terrestrial and satellite communications. The goal is to decrease costs, increase coverage, and provide added resilience and multi-level security compatibility to critical communication needs. The research will focus on areas such as security, path-agnostic connectivity, location privacy, and integrity guarantees. The project will be conducted in three phases: Phase I involves developing plans and concept designs, Phase II focuses on maturing the findings and developing a modeling and simulation capability, and Phase III involves integrating the technology with prospective transition partners. The research has potential applications in both government and civilian sectors, and successful demonstrations will inform future acquisitions by primes and subcontractors. The solicitation is open until February 21, 2024. More information can be found on the website.


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): FutureG; Trusted AI and Autonomy; Integrated Sensing and Cyber; Integrated Network System-of-Systems; Space Technology; Human-Machine Interfaces


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: Add-on software modules, hybrid space and terrestrial communications architectures, and enhancements to 5G user equipment, base stations, and/or augmentations to 5G core infrastructures to best support seamless integration of 5G terrestrial and satellite communications technologies and thus, potentially decreasing costs, increasing coverage, and providing added resilience and multi-level security compatibility to critical communication needs.


DESCRIPTION: New standards and technologies, such as Fifth-Generation (5G) that are expected to meet large throughput increase, seamless connectivity, reliability, and connection density, have become important to the fulfillment of the significantly demanding requirements in flexible interconnections of heterogeneous terrestrial assets, timely data dissemination in non-contested radio environments as opposed to those in military-hardened networks and systems. Recently, DoD has made significant efforts to leverage commercial 5G investments in vendors and operators that are untrusted. Those initiatives that rely on commercial 5G products, create emerging security challenges involving in data integrity, confidentiality, and availability.  Concerning the Fighting Satellite Communication (SATCOM) vision by US Space Command that requires future military SATCOM capable of multi-band and multi-waveform operations, whenever possible, to support agile, path-agnostic connectivity, reducing vulnerability to interference and jamming, this topic solicitation is to focus on potential cross-cutting areas required to integrate 5G terrestrial networks with military satellite networks. Such a realization of the enterprise satellite and terrestrial data transport capability across all joint-domain mission areas can only be achieved by means of a radical shift in the way both security and resilience of 5G are designed. For instance, a new dimension for security with path-agnostic and location privacy considerations against denial-of-service (DoS) threats would pose severe challenges to the realization of a 5G-based space data transport. Of particular interest includes but is not limited to: space data transport using cooperative and untrusted indigenous 5G networks where the U.S. and its allied spanning military operators, government services, and DoD controlled infrastructure securely operate through untrusted indigenous 5G wireless communications infrastructures whenever possible. Along with such development for novel security architecture and add-on software modules, both 5G core network and user equipment solutions are necessary to aid in evaluation of expected performance for anomaly detection and recovery, network slicing together with zero-trust protocols, integrity guarantees and covert communications.


PHASE I: Develop necessary plans and concept designs for the proposed 5G-based space data transport or capability in order to demonstrate its viability. Conceptualize a secure hybrid 5G terrestrial & SATCOM system design with potential enhancements to full-stack user software solutions for user equipment and leveraging existing infrastructures. Include appropriate initial laboratory demonstrations as required.


PHASE II: Mature the findings in Phase I. Develop a modeling and simulation capability of a family of security solutions along with user-centric and Open Random Access Network (ORAN) that would leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning intrusion detection analytics. Perform trade studies for security and performance at user equipment and ORAN. Demonstrate a proof of concept to evaluate necessary enhancements and augmentations required pertaining to resilience against DoS threats, integrity guarantees, path-agnostic connectivity, and location privacy subject to variability of untrusted indigenous 5G networks and DoD controlled infrastructures.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Integrate with prospective follow-on transition partners to provide improved operational capability to a broad range of potential Government and civilian users and alternate mission applications. Government organizations such as Air Force Research Laboratory and Space Systems Command could sponsor a government reference design of secure 5G networks for legitimate DoD and civil users, in collaboration with small business and industry partners. Successful contractor technology demonstrations will inform the technical requirements of future acquisitions by Primes and subcontractors.



L. You, K. Li, J. Wang, X. Gao, X. Xia, B. Ottersten, “Massive MIMO Transmission for LEO Satellite Communications”, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, 2020;
R. Dangi, P. Lalwani, G. Choudhary, L. You, and G. Pau, “Study and Investigation on 5G Technology: A Systematic Review”, Sensors (Basel). 2022 Jan;
22(1): 26;
L. Bai, L. Zhu, X. Zhang, W. Zhang and Q. Yu, "Multi-Satellite Relay Transmission in 5G: Concepts, Techniques, and Challenges," in IEEE Network, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 38-44, September/October 2018.;


KEYWORDS: 5G; SATCOM; single hybrid space and terrestrial communications architectures; security; resilience; military, government, or critical infrastructure operator; 5G Radio Access Network; network slices; network virtualization; multi-access edge computing; end devices; end system security; zero trust architectures; system resilience; human factors