Navy-Electronic Battle Damage Indicator (eBDI) Tool for Non-Kinetic High-Power Radio-Frequency (RF) Engagements
Navy SBIR 2018.1 - Topic N181-075
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: January 8, 2018 - Closes: February 7, 2018 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Navy-Electronic Battle Damage Indicator (eBDI) Tool for Non-Kinetic High-Power Radio-Frequency (RF) Engagements


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors


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 an electronic battle damage indicator (eBDI) tool for use with non-kinetic high-power radio frequency (HPRF) systems.  Rather than rely on visual or behavioral cues, this eBDI tool should utilize active and/or passive electronic sensing, providing a unique method to assess electronic system disruption or damage imposed by HPRF.

DESCRIPTION: Currently, evaluations of HPRF sources and other non-kinetic counter-electronic systems are impeded by the inability to conduct effective electronic battle damage assessment.  In a non-kinetic engagement, there may not be obvious physical damage to observe after the engagement.  This potential lack of physical evidence requires alternative means to assess these electronic targets.  An eBDI tool should have the ability to acquire pre- and post-engagement electromagnetic (EM) target signatures and determine the level of target electronic system disruption via electronic operational state degradation, disruption, or damage imposed causing change to output EM signature status.  Note that the level of change will vary depending on the initial quality/quantity of the signal as well as the magnitude of change in EM output signal from the system being affected as a function of design, attenuation, or environment, thus the system design will need to focus on sensitivity or other related factors in signal output that can be detected and correlated to the original operation and the RF source output.  Therefore, the sensors associated with the eBDI system may need to establish an effective baseline signal (before HPRF interaction) and survive the HPRF interaction to provide a sufficient, post-HPRF signal analysis to perform the eBDI function.  This eBDI tool will actively interrogate or passively “listen” to intended or unintended emissions across a large portion of the spectrum to assess a wide variety of potential targets, both within and outside of enclosures, with near-real-time reporting.  Unique interrogation and assessment methods may include, but are not limited to, linear and nonlinear scattering analysis, iterative phase-conjugation or time-reversal techniques, and machine learning or knowledge-based radar techniques for detection and classification.  The eBDI hardware must be compact and capable of surviving an HPRF event.  Additionally, the eBDI hardware must also be able to measure varying RF output from the HPRF source in close proximity to verify that the expected RF output was produced at the source to a degree providing a cross-check on system performance and correlation to measured eBDI state changes.  Technical risks include: ability to discern signals of the electronics of interest from background noise, agility for real-time on-board assessment of electronic system signals, operation in a high-power EM environment, ability to operate in a possible dynamic-motion environment, and sensing across a wide variety of electronic system RF emissions while maintaining low Size, Weight, and Power (SWaP).

PHASE I: Conceptualize, design, develop, and model key elements for an innovative HPRF eBDI system that can meet the requirements discussed in the description section. Design and model a sensor capable of close-proximity verification of the expected RF output from the HPRF system.  Assess potential sensors and associated RF signal processing algorithm to identify the critical electronic system of interest.  This assessment should include the consideration of active versus passive sensors, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) survivability as well as SWaP/Cost limitations.  Rank the sensors and associated RF signal processing algorithms into an initial preference order based upon predicted performance across one or more type of complex electronic control system. Performance of the required electronic state sensing can be achieved with new sensors, existing sensors, new techniques, new algorithms, or a combination of these methods.  Perform modeling and simulation to provide initial assessment of the performance (expected sensitivity, response time, time correlation, magnitude, vector/directional correlation, spectrum mapping, etc.) of the concept.  Design a potential system with an evaluation of the effects of the HPRF irradiation.

The proposed design system should be able to demonstrate a path towards providing a compact solution (with low SWaP) that can be integrated onto one or more Naval platforms in a future Phase.  Cost analysis and material development should be included to ascertain critical limitations not yet readily available given current technology.  The design and modeling results of Phase I should lead to plans to build a prototype unit in Phase II.

PHASE II: Phase II will involve the design refinement, procurement, integration, assembly, and testing of a proof of concept brass-board prototype leveraging the Phase I effort.  The Phase II brass-board prototype will be capable of providing near-real-time feedback concerning: the operation of the HPRF source, which may be wideband pulses (100-1000 MHz, 2 – 200 ns) or narrowband (500 MHz – 5 GHz, pulse widths, 1 ns - 5 µs), as well as the response of one additional more complex electronic control system and/or computer system, specified by the government team, from one or more incident HPRF pulses.   The versatility of the sensor and signal processing approach will be required for this phase, with an objective of assessment of three or four different classes of electronic systems.  The primary target electronic system status eBDI indicator that provides a signal of effective RF source effects to be measured may vary across different classes of electronics (computers, servers, routers, controls, sensors, etc.), which will require the sensor and signal processing to have sufficient flexibility to address the variation in electronic systems.  There is also an interest in possible capability when applied to mobile platforms such as land vehicles, maritime vessels, and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) as opposed to only infrastructure fixed sites.  This brass-board prototype must demonstrate a clear path forward to a full-scale concept demonstrator based on the selected sensor and signal processing technology.  Data packages on all critical components will be submitted throughout the prototype development cycle and test results will be provided for regular review of progress.  The use of actual hardware, RF signal processing software and empirical data collection is expected for this analysis.  If necessary to perform the electronic system sensing, this Phase may also include a network of sensor nodes and associated communication system.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The performer will apply the knowledge gained during Phases I and II to build and demonstrate the full-scale functional final design that will include all system elements and represent a complete solution.  The final design should be compact and ruggedized and the eBDI system should be capable of integration onto one or more Naval platforms (as specified by the Government).  The device should be applicable for test range use and should be immune to both temporary EI and permanent damage from the HPRF incident pulse.

Data packages on all critical components and subcomponents will be submitted throughout the final development cycle and test results will be regularly submitted for review of progress.  It is desirable for the performer to work closely with Office of Naval Research Code 352, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Dahlgren Division, and other Navy field activities to maximize transition and field testing opportunities.
Working with the Navy field activities, the performer will test their prototype eBDI System to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment.  The performer will support the Navy field activities for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy and Marine Corps use and will develop manufacturing plans and capabilities.

If HPM/HPRF Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) attacks become prevalent, there will be considerable demand for such advanced warning systems both for the Department of Defense, Domestic Law Enforcement as well as corporate entities such as data centers.  As a specific example, the Department of Homeland Security could utilize an eBDI network to assist in detecting and determining the effects on vital infrastructure.  Additionally, a well-designed system may benefit the existing Electromagnetic Interference/ Compatibility (EMI/EMC) community that seeks to understand and protect effects from co-located operating systems and manage unintended effects through protections and measurement characterizations.


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KEYWORDS: High Power Radio Frequency; High Power Microwave; Directed Energy Weapons; Counter Directed Energy Weapons; Advanced Warning System; HPRF Threats; Geo-locating


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