The Department of Defense has announced $600 million in awards for 5G experimentation and testing at five U.S. military test sites, representing the largest full-scale 5G tests for dual-use applications in the world. Each installation will partner military Services, industry leaders, and academic experts to advance the Department’s 5G capabilities. Projects will include piloting 5G-enabled augmented/virtual reality for mission planning and training, testing 5G-enabled Smart Warehouses, and evaluating 5G technologies to enhance distributed command and control.
“The Department of Defense is at the forefront of cutting edge 5G testing and experimentation, which will strengthen our Nation’s warfighting capabilities as well as U.S. economic competitiveness in this critical field. Through these test sites, the Department is leveraging its unique authorities to pursue bold innovation at a scale and scope unmatched anywhere else in the world. Importantly, today’s announcement demonstrates the Department’s commitment to exploring the vast potential applications and dual-use opportunities that can be built upon next-generation networks,” said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
The test sites include: Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia; Naval Base San Diego, California; and Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada.
The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to spectrum bands and mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, support new or improved infrastructure requirements, and conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing. Details on each base are listed below.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington – Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Training
The objective of this project is to rapidly field a scalable, resilient, and secure 5G network to provide a test bed for experimentation with a 5G-enabled Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) capability for mission planning, distributed training, and operational use. Industry partners at this site include:
- GBL System Corp. (GBL): GBL’s Samsung-based 5G testbed will utilize mid-band spectrum to provide high capacity, low latency coverage at JBLM (Approximately 3 sq. mi.) and Yakima Training Center (Approximately 15 sq. mi.).
- AT&T: AT&T will develop a system to allow use of 5G connectivity with present training devices.
- Oceus Networks: Oceus will develop and field a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) based 5G handheld called Tough Mobile Device-5G (TMD-5G) for the field training environment.
- Booz-Allen Hamilton (BAH): BAH will deliver an Army-owned, multivendor prototype for combat-like training using AR/VR technology in 5G-enhanced training locations based on an Open Systems Architecture (OSA).
Naval Base San Diego (NBSD), California – 5G Smart Warehousing (Transshipment)
The objective of this project is to develop a 5G-enabled Smart Warehouse focused on transshipment between shore facilities and naval units, to increase the efficiency and fidelity of naval logistic operations, including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval, and transportation of materiel and supplies. Additionally, the project will create a proving ground for testing, refining, and validating emerging 5G-enabled technologies. Industry partners at this site include:
- AT&T: AT&T will quickly deploy (within 9 months) a network based on commercially available equipment to support 4G and 5G utilizing cellular spectrum in both the sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave bands.
- GE Research: GE Research 5G-enabled applications will support real-time asset tracking, warehouse modeling and predictive analytics.
- Vectrus Mission Solutions Corporation (Vectrus): Vectrus applications will provide industry-leading capabilities for inventory management, network security, robotic material moving, & environmental sensing.
- Deloitte Consulting LLP (Deloitte): Deloitte will support a wide array of applications including Autonomous Mobile Robots, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with autonomous drones, biometrics, cameras, AR/VR, and digitally tracked inventory.
Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Albany, Georgia – 5G Smart Warehousing (Vehicular)
This project will develop a 5G-enabled Smart Warehouse focused on vehicular storage and maintenance, to increase 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 will create a proving ground for testing, refining, and validating emerging 5G-enabled technologies. Industry partners at this site include:
- Federated Wireless: Federated Wireless leverages open standards and an open solution to provide a testbed with both indoor and outdoor coverage, supporting a growing segment of the US 5G equipment market.
- GE Research: The GE approach will support real-time asset tracking, facility modeling and predictive analytics.
- KPMG LLP: KPMG applications will create an integrated, automated, and digitized process for equipment and product movement throughout the warehouse.
- Scientific Research Corporation (SRC): SRC’s 5G-enabled offering will demonstrate automated management and control of warehouse logistics, asset and inventory tracking, environmental management, and facility access control.
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada – Distributed Command and Control
The objective of this effort is to develop a testbed for use of 5G technologies to aid in Air, Space, and Cyberspace lethality while enhancing command and control (C2) survivability. Specifically, a 5G network will be employed to disaggregate and mobilize the existing C2 architectures in an agile combat employment scenario.
Industry partners at this site include:
- AT&T: AT&T will provide an initially fixed then mobile 5G environment with high capacity and low latency to support the connectivity requirements associated with the mobile combined air operations centers.
Hill Air Force Base, Utah – Dynamic Spectrum Utilization
This project addresses the challenge of enabling Air Force radars to dynamically share spectrum with 5G cellular services. The project will develop sharing/coexistence system prototypes and evaluate their effectiveness with real-world, at-scale networks in controlled environments. The objective of this effort is to develop effective methodologies to allow the sharing or coexistence between airborne radar systems and 5G cellular telephony systems in the 3.1 – 3.45 GHz band. Industry partners at this site include:
- Nokia: The Nokia testbed includes traditional as well as open standards architectures including high-power massive multi-antenna systems.
- General Dynamics Mission Systems, Inc. (GDMS): GDMS will develop and field a novel coexistence application that includes independent tracking of radar signals to support the radio access network in mitigation actions.
- Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH): BAH’s approach utilizes Artificial Intelligence to provide a complete coexistence system with rapid response to interference.
- Key Bridge Wireless LLC: Key Bridge will demonstrate an adaptation of an existing commercial spectrum sharing approach for the 3.1-3.45 GHz band as a low risk solution to the coexistence issues.
- Shared Spectrum Company (SSC): SSC’s approach aims to maintain continuous 5G communications via early radar detections and 5G-enabled Dynamic Spectrum Access.
- Ericsson: Ericsson’s novel approach employs the 5G infrastructure to provide the required sensing coupled with Machine Learning and 5G-enabled spectrum aggregation.
5G communications technology is a foundational enabler for all U.S. defense modernization programs, and vital to U.S. national and economic security.
DoD’s efforts focus on large-scale experimentation and prototyping of dual-use 5G technology that will provide high speeds and quicker response times, connect many more wireless devices than current wireless technology, and enable leap-ahead capabilities for the U.S. military.
Today’s announcement builds on DoD’s previously-announced 5G prototyping efforts and is part of a 5G development roadmap guided by the Department of Defense 5G Strategy. It represents the first tranche of awards on 5G experimentation and testing, with additional sites to be announced in the future.