DARPA's sea network project completes first phase

By Ryan Maass  |  Jan. 6, 2017 at 9:39 AM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's effort to develop backup power for naval forces reached its first milestone.

The project is known as the Tactical Undersea Network Architecture, or TUNA, and aims to provide technologies capable of restoring connectivity for deployed forces when traditional networks are unavailable. The program's first phase was marked by the development of concepts and technologies.

"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," program manager John Kamp said in a press release. "Teams were able to design strong, hair-thin, buoyant fiber-optic cables able to withstand the pressure, saltwater, and currents of the ocean, as well as develop novel power generation concepts."

According to DARPA, military personnel can temporarily restore network connectivity at sea by deploying radio frequency network node buoys from naval or air platforms. The buoys would be connected using thin underwater fiber-optic cables.

Researchers from the University of Washington's Applied Physics Lab developed a way the buoys may be able to generate electricity using the wave movement around them.

During the second and final phase of the TUNA program, DARPA researchers will seek to develop a prototype for testing. Trials will be conducted in laboratory settings and at sea using the Link 16 tactical data network.

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