Military Seeks Radio Override

Special Operations Command looks for systems to take over AM, FM signals and broadcast messages.



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10 Breakthrough DARPA Technologies
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The U.S. Special Operations Command is looking for technology capable of overriding AM and FM radio stations in a geographic area and broadcasting its own messages into that area.

USSOCOM, as it is known, is the unified command for the special operations commands of all four branches of the U.S. military. It has released a Sources Sought notice on FedBizOpps to identify possible contractors.

The notice describes this scenario: "[P]rovide a radio broadcast system capable of searching for and acquiring every AM and FM radio station in a specific area and then broadcasting a message(s) in the target area on all acquired AM and FM radio station frequencies."

[ Will the spectrum auction be fair to all wireless carriers? Read FCC Needs To Be A Spectrum Hero. ]

There is a long tradition of using radio to broadcast news and propaganda directly to the citizens in hostile countries -- from Tokyo Rose during World War II to Radio Free Europe during the Cold War. In many cases, the U.S. government has purchased air time for programming, as in Afghanistan for the past several years. This is different, akin to someone turning on the radio for a local morning news program and getting a message from the Defense Department instead -- then trying to change the dial and finding the message on every station.

The Sources Sought notice states that USSOCOM is considering conducting a Foreign Comparative Test, i.e., outside the United States, of a "lightweight, multi-frequency, simultaneous over-broadcast system." Before it would execute such a test, the command wants to identify all domestic and foreign companies that have such systems effectively ready for use.

Responses are due by Sept. 20.

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