LoRaWAN & The Helium Blockchain: A Study on Military IoT Deployment


  • Michael A. Reyneke Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4793-011X
  • Barry E. Mullins Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)
  • Mark G. Reith Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)




Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Defense, Helium Network, Internet, Internet of Things, LoRaWAN, Military, Sensors, UHF Communication


Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and the demand for a reliable, far-reaching Internet of Things (IoT) network has never been higher. Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) offers an energy-efficient, low-cost, long-range wireless communication protocol catered to IoT devices. A subset of LPWAN, Long Range Wireless Access Network (LoRaWAN), is being rapidly adopted due to its effortless integration into existing system architectures and real-world success. The Helium Network cryptocurrency blockchain’s financial incentives have been used to speed up the LoRaWAN adoption and deployment in urban and rural areas by financially incentivizing gateway owners to establish a redundant network based out of their homes and businesses. In addition to ease of deployment, the Helium Network allows for enhanced security by utilizing a public blockchain ledger to verify the identities of both sender and recipient to combat packet replay and man-in-the-middle attacks. This research argues for the effectiveness of LoRaWAN and Helium Network technology fusion based on real-world examples of a robust and dependable worldwide network. Further, this research advocates for adoption and modification of this technology by the Department of Defense (DoD), to enhance environmental sensing, establish real-time tactical networks, and critical infrastructure and logistics monitoring. If the DoD chooses to integrate these two technologies with its existing IoT infrastructure; it can reliably, securely, and anonymously use LoRaWAN nodes and routers as both a long-range and backup encrypted communication network capable of supporting end-to-end encryption up to AES-128 (DoD SECRET-classification standard). The DoD could capitalize on these successes to advance information dominance in both domestic and international environments. The demonstrated performance and low adoption cost of LoRaWAN and Helium Network technologies could greatly enhance the DoD’s mission of maintaining its lethality and dominance in information warfare.

Author Biographies

Michael A. Reyneke, Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)

Michael A. Reyneke received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from Utah Valley University in 2017. He is currently a Cyber Operations masters’ degree student at the Air Force Institute of Technology. His current research interests include the Internet of Things, wireless communications, critical infrastructure protection, cyber-physical systems security/sensing, national security, and reverse engineering.

Barry E. Mullins , Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)

Barry E. Mullins received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1997.  He is currently professor of computer engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology.  His research interests include cyber-physical systems security/sensing, Internet of Things security, and computer/network/embedded systems security.  He is a senior member of IEEE.

Mark G. Reith , Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT)

Mark G. Reith received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2009. He is currently an assistant professor of computer science at the Air Force Institute of Technology. His research interests include cyber warfare theory & practice, agile software engineering & modeling, and blockchain technologies.