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Advancing 5G Communications for America's Warfighters

Advancing 5G Communications for America's Warfighters

5G-to-XG-dark@2x

Advancing 5G Communications for America's Warfighters

The United States Department of Defense is at the forefront of cutting edge 5G testing and experimentation which will be transformative to the Nation’s warfighting capabilities.

In 2020, the Department invested over $600 million to provide prototype 5G capabilities to the initial 5 Tranche sites in DoD. Working with more than 100 industry partners across 65 awards, 5G experimental testbeds are now deployed at more than 12 military sites across the United States. This deployment represents the largest full-scale 5G test efforts for dual-use applications in the world.

Expected in 2023, as capabilities mature, the experiments will transition to full operations across the Department. The Department in partnership with industry, is delivering 5G capabilities to the warfighter. 5G enables training with augmented and virtual reality, smart warehousing, augmented telemedicine, remote engineering, improved aircraft readiness and distributed command and control.

5G Experimentation & Testing
$
Million

On the Forefront of Cutting Edge Technology

The United States Department of Defense is at the forefront of cutting edge 5G testing and experimentation which will be transformative to the Nation’s warfighting capabilities. More than a dozen prototypes are being fielded at military sites across the country to facilitate transition into operations and provide the foundation for 5G capability integration into the DoD Enterprise. These prototyping efforts demonstrate the feasibility, utility, affordability, and scalability of 5G technologies in support of DoD modernization objectives.

Fort Hood, Texas

Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality for High-Fidelity Training

A scalable, resilient, and secure 5G network Testbed is providing realistic Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) training in a field environment. The configurable, expeditionary, 5G supported AR/VR training systems improve training realism and enhance Mission Planning with unprecedented visual and 3D model-based tools.

Conducting AR/VR experimentation on the 5G (and multi-generation capable) training environment infrastructure at Fort Hood is validating the optimal configuration and identifying gaps and limits in current 5G capabilities. Outcomes will inform Army Training Modernization efforts.
Efforts are enhancing military readiness with 5G and Next generation enabled, extended reality training systems in a deployable or expeditionary form factor.

The testbed is also helping explore the utility of providing the Army/DoD a private, sustainable 5G solution for operational use beyond experimentation.

Soldier in virtual reality glasses.

Naval Base Coronado (NBC), California

5G Smart Warehousing (Transshipment)

The 5G-enabled Smart Warehouse is focused on transshipment between shore facilities and naval units. The technology is cost-effectively increasing the efficiency and fidelity of warfighter logistics operations; including the improved access controls, preemptive identification, analytical reporting, warehouse modeling for use-case scenarios, sorting, storage, tamper-detection, transporting, maintenance, and repair of equipment, parts, and tools.

The NBC 5G Smart Warehouse prototype provides a secure, private 5G network with a dedicated 5G core and Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) access, to facilitate automation and efficiency of warehouse operations, accuracy of data collection and retrieval, and utilizing personnel more effectively and efficiently.

Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany, Georgia

5G Smart Warehousing (Vehicular)

The 5G-enabled Smart Warehouse is supporting their vehicular storage and maintenance mission, increasing the efficiency and fidelity of MCLB Albany logistic operations, including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval, and inventory control of materiel and supplies.

Additionally, the project is a proving ground for testing, refining, and validating emerging 5G-enabled technologies. Their prototype provides a secure, open standard 5G environment enabled by O-RAN, automated asset tracking and movement, machine learning, and Zero Trust Architectures over a Shared Spectrum Testbed.

The 5G enabled Smart Warehouse is improving logistics operations with strategic technologies and automation including minimizing labor-intensive processes via AR/VR and use of warehouse robotics systems. This effort is gaining efficiencies through improved data accuracy and spatial efficiency. It is also enhancing safety via automation and training the workforce with new skills required for future operations.

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Hill Air Force Base, Utah

Dynamic Spectrum Utilization

This project is focused on developing reliable solutions for Air Force radars to dynamically share spectrum with 5G cellular services. The project is developing sharing/coexistence prototypes and evaluating their effectiveness under realistic conditions in controlled test environments. The objective is to develop effective methodologies to allow the sharing or coexistence between airborne radar systems and 5G cellular telephony systems in congested radio frequencies (e.g., 3.1 – 3.45 GHz band).

The testbed includes traditional as well as open standards architectures including high-power massive multi-antenna systems. Multiple novel spectrum sharing solutions are being tested. Results are expected to enhance security and improve safe operation of both military and commercial systems.

Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada

Distributed Command and Control (5G-Next G Range)

The Testbed is using 5G and Future generation communication technologies to aid in Air, Space, and Cyberspace lethality while enhancing command and control (C2) survivability.

The 5G Testbed has been designed to facilitate experimentation with how to best disaggregate and mobilize existing C2 architectures into agile combat employment (ACE) scenarios.

These experiments will accelerate delivery of advanced 5G and future generation cellular capability to the “last mile” warfighter: completely mobile, agile, resilient, and rapidly configurable to support Agile Combat Employment and tactical reload requirements.

plane, military, runway

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California

Wireless Connectivity for Tactical Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO)

This experiment’s challenge is to use prototyping and experimentation to quantify the military utility of employing commercially available 5G networks and 5G-enabled technologies in an expeditionary environment. This must be contrasted against current capabilities while identifying gaps, addressing shortfalls and developing mitigation strategies for risks incurred of using 5G technologies on the battlefield.

Specific interest areas during experimentation are characteristics within the electromagnetic spectrum, network performance, security, usability and military utility.

vector art humvee

National Training Center, Fort Irwin California

Wireless Connectivity for Tactical Mobility and Survivability

The objective of this effort is to develop a testbed for use of 5G technologies to leverage state of the art 5G networks and technologies to investigate potential acceleration of two critical modernization areas: Command Post (CP) Survivability and Vehicular Mobility.
The experiments are focused on the use of 5G networks and technologies capable of:

  • Increasing ease of command post mobility and dispersion, reducing radio frequency signature, improving resiliency, and expanding the flexibility of operations through wider flexibility in spectrum usage.
  • Improving vehicular mobility involving robotic systems with increases in capacity, connectivity, mobility and dispersion, reductions in RF detectability, and enhanced resiliency.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii

5G Enhancing Aircraft Mission Readiness

Commercially available 5G networks, technologies, and processes are enabling rapid experimentation with 5G enabled aircraft maintenance and readiness systems at multiple Pacific sites including JBPHH, Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), Wheeler Army Airfield (AAF), and Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island.

The prototype 5G assured communications solution is supporting maintenance activities and airfield operations in a real-world conditions including onboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. In addition to supporting aircraft maintenance and readiness, experiments are underway with solutions to enhance Air Traffic Control and airfield security.

aircraft maintenance

Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma

Digital Transformation of Aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Operations

By leveraging new and emerging 5G capabilities capable of enhancing aircraft maintenance and readiness systems, this project will use realistic operational Air Logistics Complex scenarios to evaluate real-world challenges including:

  • Tracking Aircraft Ground Equipment, indoors and outdoors across the entire base.
  • Monitoring and analyzing the radio frequency environment to ensure successful management and co-existence of the new 5G capabilities and existing mission functions.
  • Using AR/VR technologies to support knowledge sharing, a first step toward 5G enabled “Connected Maintainers” at every flightline.

Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia

Ship-wide / Pier to Pier Connectivity

This effort is developing a testbed for use of 5G technologies to demonstrate the feasibility, utility, affordability, and scalability of 5G technologies to determine if commercially available pier-side and shipboard 5G infrastructure can support Navy modernization objectives.
The testbed provides a platform to examine and evaluate operationally relevant afloat applications. Use of model-based system engineering approaches allows for solutions to be analyzed for all five naval operational domains:  Intra-ship, Pier-side, Ashore, Littoral, and Blue Water.  

person wearing augmented reality glasses

Joint Base San Antonio, Texas

5G AR for Medical Training and Telemedicine

5G-enabled Augmented Reality brings medical providers near real-time data and the ability to make split-second decisions critical in healthcare environments. It enables a secure, resilient and fully integrated platform to extend operational medical expertise forward to the "Operational Edge."

The JBSA 5G in Telemedicine prototypes leverage the large bandwidth and low latency of 5G technology to enable the real-time use of emerging technologies (i.e., augmented reality, machine learning, advanced data analytics) to provide enhanced medical care and training anywhere it is needed, at anytime.

Joint Base San Antonio, Texas

5G Core Capabilities and Security

This 5G testbed is working to ensure DoD has secure 5G-enabled communication services that are fast, reliable, interoperable, flexible, and operate securely. Their objectives to enhance security include:

  • Leveraging virtualized infrastructure to better secure network information.
  • Improving 5G Core functions and capabilities.
  • Using 5G-enabled Management and Orchestration features to enhance Service Based Architecture and interfaces (SBA/SBI)
  • Use Network Slicing and other 5G functions to implement dynamic End-to-End (E2E) encryption.
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Office of the Under Secretary of Defense,
Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E))
3030 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3030