Air Force to evaluate SD-WAN solutions to support global battle management network

The Air Force published a closed call for white papers under a commercial solutions opening for SD-WAN technology.
Master Sgt. Kyle Pearson (left), Headquarters Air Mobility Command expeditionary communications functional area manager, and Tech. Sgt. Kevin Koenig, 621st Contingency Response Support Squadron tactical radio communications section chief, provides communication from a Nomad GCS Tactical Control Vehicle at a simulated austere base during the Advanced Battle Management System exercise on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 1, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Cory D. Payne)

The Department of the Air Force on Friday published a two-step, closed call for white papers under a commercial solutions opening as it pursues software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology to support its forthcoming Advanced Battle Management System and Joint All-Domain Command and Control architecture.

The tech is viewed as a critical enabler of the data transport layer for the envisioned global network that the military wants to use to more rapidly and effectively connect sensors, platforms and end-users across multiple domains at the enterprise, regional and tactical levels.

“There are many commercial SD-WAN capabilities available for procurement, but there has not been a holistic survey of the available commercial solutions and their ability to meet Department of the Air Force operational requirements,” according to the call for white papers published on

The service wants its future network to have increased data rates, resiliency, reduced latency, improved anti-jam, low probability of intercept/low probability of detection (LPI/LPD) characteristics, scalability of nodes/connections, and improved integration of dissimilar users, among other capabilities.


“A cornerstone of this network will be an SD-WAN solution that enables connectivity across multiple connectivity services (MPLS, DISN MILSATCOM, DISN OTN, Broadband Internet, etc.). The SD-WAN solution will form one piece of a larger network architecture that offers the battle manager continuity of operations through denied, degraded, intermittent, and latent (DDIL) network conditions. This provides the battle manager flexibility and maneuverability to connect through a ubiquitous black fabric mesh leveraging multiple modalities of WAN transport,” the document said.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Architecture and Integration Directorate, on behalf of the service’s new Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management, intends to assess SD-WAN products for potential acquisition.

White papers from industry are due Feb. 6. Offerors whose submissions are favorably evaluated will receive a request for proposal around March 14, and proposals will be due May 2.

Chosen offerors will receive funding to take part in a test event where their capabilities will be evaluated.

“The test period will be allotted three weeks per SD-WAN product, where the SD-WAN vendor is expected to be on-site at a testing facility to provide a fully configured environment against test objectives provided by the Government and witnessed/tested by an independent evaluation team,” the document said.


“There will be an opportunity for Offeror(s) participating in the test event and selected by the Government to be awarded option contracts for acquisition of SD-WAN product licenses and services. The SD-WAN product(s) chosen will form the basis for a world-wide battle management network deployed across multiple Department of the Air Force platforms,” it added.

The Air Force anticipates making one contract award following the test event, although it could issue multiple awards — or none. The target date for award is May 2.

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