TITLE: High Performance
Compact Medium-Power Long-Wave Infrared (LWIR) Laser System for Shipboard
Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors
ACQUISITION PROGRAM: Combined
EO/IR Surveillance and Response System (CESARS) Future Naval Capabilities (FNC)
The technology within this
topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR),
22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related
material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the
Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls
dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals
(FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed,
and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s)
in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the Announcement. Offerors are advised
foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to
the technical data under US Export Control Laws.
OBJECTIVE: Develop a compact
long-wave infrared (LWIR) laser system for the Navy.
DESCRIPTION: Airborne threats
to surface ships, whether anti-ship cruise missiles, drones, or aircraft,
benefit from passive sensing technology spanning the infrared (IR) spectrum.
Passive sensors are widely available, compact, require little power, and
generate little waste heat. Furthermore, because passive sensors are not
dependent on discrete energy transitions, they are sensitive across contiguous
wavelength bands. That is, passive sensors – either discrete photodiodes or focal
plane arrays – “see” across a band of the spectrum.
Sensor availability in the long-wave infrared (LWIR) wavelength band offers
advantages in certain environments. At times, signature contrast and
atmospheric affects favor LWIR propagation in many regions of the globe and
certain combinations of humidity and turbulence favor higher contrast imaging
in the LWIR. Where space and power allow, prudence dictates that sensing in
multiple IR bands (for example, mid-wave IR – from 3 to 5 micro meters - combined
with LWIR) be employed together for maximum effect. This presents a
significant challenge to ship self-defense systems that must likewise counter
threats across multiple bands. Active IR sensors and IR countermeasures
require lasers as sources. Optimally, laser sources should cover the broadest
range possible within their band to ensure availability. For example, broad
coverage in the LWIR band minimizes the vulnerability to
counter-countermeasures and allows for optimal transmission at wavelengths
favorable for atmospheric propagation. The requirement for broad spectral
coverage is achievable, however, it complicates the desire for compactness.
Furthermore, the ship’s response system, whether attempting to simply
illuminate and detect the threat or apply countermeasures, must transmit
sufficient power to achieve the maximum range and the high power-density
required presents thermal management challenges. These issues are highly
relevant because system performance is enhanced when the laser aperture is
mounted high on the ship’s superstructure, making optimization of size, and by
inference efficiency, significant considerations and challenges.
The Navy seeks development of a compact LWIR laser system as described above.
It should be noted that a “laser system” is considered, in this case, to
include technologies where beam combining from multiple individual lasers (or
some alternate technology) is used to achieve the requirements (as distinct
from a single LWIR laser solution). The laser system is also understood to
incorporate any power conversion, packaging, and control required for the
system to function as an integrated source of single-beam LWIR laser output.
The laser system should cover the entire LWIR band and allow for maximum
atmospheric transmission while incorporating means to optimize beam quality for
maximum atmospheric propagation. The power output should be 100W or greater in
continuous wave (CW) operation. However, technologies that offer scalability
of output power are most attractive. In addition to CW operation, the laser
system shall also be capable of providing pulsed output.
Physical constraints imposed by the application make minimization of the laser
system volume the primary consideration. As a requirement, the laser system
shall occupy a combined volume of no more than 8ft3 with a goal of less than
4ft3. Due to the compact packaging this imposes, it is desirable to maximize
the efficiency – not so much to conserve ship’s power as to reduce the cooling
requirements for the laser system. The proposed solution should indicate the
expected power conversion efficiency and show that this efficiency serves the
objectives of the proposed solution. The efficiency is here defined as the
transmitted average laser beam power divided by the average input electrical
power drawn by the laser system. The requirement for this topic is strictly the
laser system; aiming and positioning systems such as gimbals are not part of
the desired technology.
PHASE I: Define and develop a
concept for a LWIR laser system meeting the objectives provided in the
description above. Demonstrate the feasibility of its concept in meeting Navy
needs and establish that the laser system can be feasibly produced.
Feasibility will be established by a combination of initial concept design,
analysis, and modeling. The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the
initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype
in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan.
PHASE II: Based on the Phase
I results and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), design, develop, test, and
deliver a prototype LWIR laser system for evaluation and demonstration that it
meets the parameters in the description. The demonstration will take place at
a Government- or company-provided facility. Provide an affordability analysis
that proposes best-practice manufacturing methods to prepare the laser
technology for Phase III transition. Prepare a Phase III development plan to
transition the technology for Navy production and other potential military
PHASE III DUAL USE
APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to the Combined
electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) Surveillance and Response System (CESARS)
architecture for further experimentation and refinement. The LWIR laser system
implementation will be a fully functional system that can be added to the
CESARS architecture. Produce/license the final product and provide for
insertion into CESARS and acquisition programs resulting from CESARS in partnership
with the acquisition program prime contractor.
LWIR laser technology, as sought for this effort, is primarily applicable to
military applications. However, the range of potential military applications
is wide. The commercial applications of this technology are primarily in
scientific and instrumentation areas such as materials research and
1. Sanchez-Rubio, Antonio.
“Wavelength Beam-Combined Laser Diode Arrays.” MIT Lincoln Laboratory Tech
Notes, 2012. https://www.ll.mit.edu/publications/technotes/TechNote_beamcombining.pdf
Mecherle, G. Stephen. “Laser diode combining for free space optical
communication.” Proc. SPIE 0616, Optical Technologies for Communication
Satellite Applications, 281 (May 15, 1986); doi:10.1117/12.961064. http://proceedings.spiedigitallibrary.org/proceeding.aspx?articleid=1241781
3. Fan, T. Y. “Laser beam
combining for high-power, high-radiance sources.” IEEE Journal of Selective
Topics in Quantum Electronics, 11, 2005, 567-577. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1516122/
4. Leger, J. R., et al.
(editors). “Special Issue on Laser Beam Combining and Fiber Laser Systems.”
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, Vol. 15, No. 2,
March/April 2009. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=4799145
KEYWORDS: LWIR Laser; IR
Sensors; LWIR Propagation; IR Countermeasure; Beam Combining; Laser Source
** TOPIC NOTICE **
These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2018.1 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2018.1 BAA SBIR pre-release on November 29, 2017, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2018, and closes February 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET.
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