Adaptive Radar Algorithms for Next Generation Surface Search Radar
Navy SBIR 2019.1 - Topic N191-029
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam -
Opens: January 8, 2019 - Closes: February 6, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Adaptive Radar Algorithms for Next Generation Surface Search Radar


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 2.0, Above Water Sensors Program Office, Next Generation Surface Search Radar (NGSSR)

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 3.5 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 and demonstrate a suite of algorithms that extend, enhance, and optimize the performance of the Next Generation Surface Search Radar (NGSSR) by exploiting the software-defined architecture of the radar.

DESCRIPTION: Navy ships are designed and equipped to fulfill various combat and supply missions. No ship class has the same set of mission requirements. However, navigation and situational awareness are basic functions common to all ships and these seemingly routine tasks have become more difficult as the maritime environment has become increasingly complex. The seas are becoming crowded. Furthermore, the proliferation of inexpensive solid-state radio frequency (RF) technology means that even small fishing boats and pleasure craft have radars. Air traffic and land-based emitters further crowd and confuse the radio spectrum. Major shipping channels that are jammed with ship and radio traffic as well as debris such as floating transport containers present a real hazard to navigation. Exploiting these conditions, adversary ships, aircraft, and unmanned airborne vehicles can conceal themselves while conducting surveillance or other operations.

In response, the Navy is investing in new navigation radar, the Next Generation Surface Search Radar (NGSSR). While being designed to be affordable (for wide deployment) and having a range consistent with its primary navigation function, the radar will make full use of the latest digital technology and incorporate a software-based architecture at its core. Both the receiver and the exciter will be realized in software to the maximum extent possible. Conversion of digital to RF in the exciter and RF to digital in the receiver will therefore represent the bulk of the non-processor hardware (excluding ancillary equipment such as power supplies). NGSSR will therefore be “software-defined” radar, similar to what has been so successfully done with software-defined radio.

This software-defined radar feature is primarily intended to meet the sustainability requirements for the radar by drastically reducing radar-specific hardware. However, the software-defined architecture also offers the opportunity to implement functionality never before considered for such relatively simple rotating radar. Software modules should be easily capable of extending the radar’s capability such that it can assume expanded mission requirements. Furthermore, the potential exists to enhance the basic navigation function of the radar, making it resilient in the face of complex contact scenarios, robust to varying weather conditions, and immune to interference and deception, while simultaneously reducing operator workload and fatigue. An agile approach in which the radar automatically adjusts to changing conditions is necessary.

The Navy seeks a coherent suite of algorithms suitable for the NGSSR that tangibly enhance radar performance and utility. In this case, “coherent” means that the multiple algorithms are organized and can be integrated to act in conjunction with each other to realize broad areas of performance enhancement in the radar. A set of algorithms that address disparate radar functions piecemeal is not needed. Furthermore, because the radar development program will already be delivering software implementing basic radar functions, such as fundamental search modes and surface contact tracking, they should not be considered in the solution.

Of particular interest are radar algorithms that reduce the operator workload by assisting in target identification and by automatically responding to interference, spectrum crowding, and changing weather conditions. Improved collision avoidance is an obvious potential benefit. This topic anticipates consideration of algorithms that exploit the software-defined nature of the radar exciter (i.e., signal generator) through pulse-to-pulse agility of the transmitted signal. Algorithms that expand the utility of the radar beyond its primary navigation role are also desired. Detection and tracking of unmanned aircraft (drones) are desirable secondary functions of the radar as is the detection of low observable surface targets such as surface debris, partially submerged craft, fast in-shore craft, periscopes, and floating mines. Candidate algorithms should also take into account the digital receiver, which is capable of sensing the entire in-band spectrum (in addition to just receiving the radar’s own returns), and electronic protection as desirable areas for consideration. Algorithms should be designed for modularity to facilitate easy update and compatibility with the existing NGSSR software.

PHASE I: Propose a concept for a coherent set of agile radar algorithms that enhance NGSSR performance and expand its utility as described above. Demonstrate the feasibility of the approach and predict the utility of the concept. Demonstrate feasibility by analysis of algorithm performance, analysis of the projected benefits, and the modularity of the algorithms (which is the measure of the ease with which they can be integrated in the NGSSR architecture). An analysis of the algorithm efficiency (i.e., the processor loading) is also desirable. Demonstrate utility by analysis or simulation of the performance improvement offered by the algorithms taken collectively. As a NGSSR system will not be available, ensure that the proposed concept anticipates development (or acquisition) of a radar simulation capability sufficient to demonstrate the radar algorithms (this simulation capability need not run in real time). Develop a Phase II plan. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate the agile radar algorithm suite prototype. As a NGSSR system may not be available until late in the project (if at all), perform development and demonstration of the algorithms that include development of a radar simulation capability sufficient to demonstrate the radar algorithms in the development environment (this simulation capability need not run in real time). Deliver to the Government a prototype that is a suite of coded algorithms (ready for compilation into executable code), corresponding interface and operation support documentation, and the radar simulation software.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Government use. Assist the Government in inserting the coded algorithms into the NGSSR software baseline and validating the compliance of the algorithms to NGSSR program standards. Provide software support and assist in demonstrating and testing the radar performance directly resulting from the algorithms.

These algorithms have the potential to transition to the broader commercial navigation radar market.


1. Debatty, Thibault. "Software defined radar a state of the art.” 2nd International Workshop on Cognitive Information Processing, 2010, pp. 253-257.

2. Stinco, Pietro, et al. "Cognitive radars in spectrally dense environments.” IEEE A&E Systems Magazine, October 2016, pp. 20-27.

KEYWORDS: Navigation Radar; Software-Defined Radar; Radar Algorithms; Target Identification; Detection and Tracking; Electronic Protection


Lawrence Dressman






Steven Wert






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