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MITRE Catalyzes Next-Generation Solutions for Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority

Our radio frequency (RF) spectrum testbed empowers public- and private-sector partners to accelerate technologies vital to maintaining overall national resilience. The system has become a gold standard for creating multifunction wideband capabilities that serve U.S. security and stability.

When we talk on our 5G phones, watch our favorite shows, or deploy autonomous vehicles, we use the same electromagnetic spectrum as U.S. Navy ships, commercial airplanes, and surveillance satellites.

One big, or wideband, swath of spectrum drives myriad applications. And there’s only so much supply to meet a massive and increasing demand.

The Department of Defense uses three Cs to describe this spectrum in their operational environment: contested by adversaries trying to disrupt and deny its use, congested by various users that increase unintentional interference, and constrained by regulations that decrease its availability.

These dynamics challenge our nation’s “invisible battlespace” across air, land, sea, and space. But the issues reverberate far beyond the defense domain. Optimizing electromagnetic spectrum allocation for government and industry is a top national priority for U.S. security and economic resilience. It also influences our position in global strategic competition.

It’s a top priority for MITRE as well—and a problem we’ve been tackling for years.

Enter EWO, short for Extremely Wideband RF Spectrum Operations, one example of our work in spectrum allocation and usage. Based on game-changing wideband technologies, the testbed includes advanced signal processing algorithms, modular phased array antennas, RF electronics, and digitally programmable chips to enable experimentation and evaluation.

EWO serves as a reference implementation system, delivering spectrum capabilities for applications ranging from radar to signals intelligence to communications, and more. Developed under our independent R&D program and in collaboration with government and industry, it’s become a gold standard for creating multifunction advanced wideband technologies.

We partnered with Intel Corporation, CAES, and the U.S. Air Force to integrate Intel Corp’s next-generation chip technology into EWO to enable multiple wideband solutions. An innovation pipeline, it provides opportunities to develop flexible ways to increase capacity while reducing size, weight, and power in space-constrained systems—saving time, money, and resources.

“MITRE’s top-notch team integrated our state-of-the-art Direct RF chips into their EWO system in a remarkably short period of time,” says Carmine Pagano, one of Intel’s technical directors. “Our partnership was hugely successful.”

EWO provides a foundation previously unavailable that allows government, industry, and academia to develop and assess next-generation technologies.

Wajih Elsallal, EWO co-lead

Connecting Stakeholders Through Trusted Partnerships

It’s not MITRE’s first foray transforming research ideas into next-gen RF systems. We’ve collaborated with DoD and industry for several years to incorporate our Frequency-scaled Ultra-wide Spectrum Element, or FUSE, antenna into various wideband applications. This patented, R&D World 100-winning technology has become a force multiplier in the spectrum space.

Now EWO, which includes FUSE, is on track to deliver even broader impact. Leveraging our role as a trusted adviser, we obtained early access to Intel Corp’s only recently commercialized Direct RF chip technology. Along with those chips and FUSE, EWO can integrate with another MITRE-developed signal processing capability, Photon. Both scalable and modular, the system allows us to combine and transition different pieces of intellectual property and technologies as needed.

“EWO is very flexible,” says MITRE’s Wajih Elsallal, FUSE’s creator and EWO co-lead. “It provides a foundation previously unavailable that allows government, industry, and academia to develop and assess next-generation technologies.”

Other benefits of the system? Efficiency and speed—particularly important given that test environments can be hard to access and costly. While developing spectrum solutions for the Air Force, our team bypassed these obstacles and rapidly planned and executed a drone-hosted test event above MITRE’s Bedford, Mass., campus.

Lab Environment Accelerates Technology Transition

EWO’s open architecture makes it easy to transfer technologies to our public- and private-sector partners, as subsystems for various missions or as “end-to-end” solutions.

“We’re excited to continue our collaboration with Intel Corp as they develop more advanced microelectronic products,” says MITRE’s Jose Torres, EWO development co-lead. “We also look forward to engaging with other third-party vendors, integrating their technology to make it more practical for different use cases—especially for our multiple government sponsors.”

For example, we’re working to see how FUSE could improve our nation’s space resilience within low-earth-orbit satellite missions. We partnered with Hedron, a Cambridge, Mass.-based commercial space company, to conduct on-orbit experimentation this year to demonstrate the antenna’s abilities.

EWO’s versatility is critical to its success. As the core of MITRE’s reference implementation lab environment, the system provides acceptable approaches for development of advanced wideband techniques. This facilitates more effective outcomes through collaborative technology innovation, rapid and agile prototyping, and smoother technology transition.

From surface to space, that means broad potential to serve our nation’s quest for optimal spectrum management—in warfighting as well as for breakthroughs in cyber, 5G/Next G, and beyond.

For more information, contact our technology transfer office.

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