Digital Mission Planning Tools for Air Cushion Vehicles
AREA(S): Information Systems
PROGRAM: PMS 377, Amphibious Warfare Program Office, Ship-to-Shore Connector.
Develop a mission-planning tool implementing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and
machine learning (ML) for afloat mission data collection and analysis.
The Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) is an Air Cushion Vehicle (ACV), or
“hovercraft”, providing amphibious transportation of equipment and personnel
from ship-to-shore and shore-to-shore.
The ACV crews need a Mission Planning System (MPS) to support mission planning
and post mission analysis for ACV operations that is integrated and
synchronized with a lightweight and easy to use handheld tool for use onboard
the craft. The LCAC Mission Assessment Tools (LMAT) along with Mission Planning
Software (MPS)/Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) will give the Navy Landing
Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) crews the ability to adapt more quickly to requests
by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and accommodate rapidly changing
mission parameters such as fuel burn rate and endurance with ease. The MPS will
be able to develop and Integrate Mission Plans, Communication Plans, and
selected navigation charts to the craft. The MPS should be able to process and
display post mission data extracted from the craft. MPS will be a
Windows10-based application that will provide mission planning, briefing, and
debriefing support to LCAC operational crews and amphibious planning staffs.
MPS will also support mission execution by generating electronic mission data
packages for use in interfacing the craft's on-board navigation and
communication systems. Mission data packages will include Digital Nautical
Charts (DNC), operational, navigational and training overlays, mission
navigation plans, engine performance and communication plans.
The capability to develop mission plans will support the gamut of Service Life
Extension Program (SLEP) and LCAC 100 Class operations, ranging from single
craft proficiency-training missions to complex multi-mission, multi-wave
amphibious assault operations. This support will include proper route planning,
environment-based predictive performance computations to ensure mission viability
and conformance to approved operational envelopes, and post-mission analysis of
executed missions through playback of recorded navigation, engineering, and
The system will provide a means to conduct off-craft mission planning and to
perform post mission analysis of craft recorded data. Mission planning for ACVs
currently takes over four hours and requires use of multiple volumes of manuals
and data for implementation and years of training to do properly. Application
of AI and ML to the solution will condense the mission planning to a single
application based on a series of inputs, which include environmental
conditions, cargo, distance, and crew day (calculated Main Engine start to Main
Engine stop), greatly decreasing the amount of time needed to plan a mission
and allow for greater flexibility when mission requirements change. There are
unique sets of performance data for the SLEP LCAC with deep skirt as well as
different power settings and engine performance tables for ETF40B engines which
include fuel burn rate and endurance. This performance data will be contained
within the software installed on each PDA and Land Based mission planning
computer system. The MPS/LMAT will allow removal of the bulk of the performance
data from the Safe Engineering and Operations (SEAOPS) Volumes and eliminate
the complex iterative hand calculations within the planning process.
The MPS software will replace SLEP LCAC systems that are currently in fleet use
and contains the following applications:
- Vehicle weight database
- LCAC Weight Allocation Calculator
- Crew Day Calculator
- Electronic Version of SEAOPS OCP Mission Planning Checklist
- LCAC Performance and Analysis System (LPAS)/MPS Computers
The LMAT will give the Navy LCAC crews the ability to adapt more quickly to
requests by the USMC and accommodate rapidly changing mission parameters with
ease. This is critical for an ACV, which has a defined balance of fuel and
payload versus range.
Software developed must be executable on Government-approved Navy/Marine Corps
Intranet (NMCI) compliant computing devices and integrated into standard NMCI
software loads or software compatible with NMCI systems. Software must be
adaptable by Navy System Subject Matter Experts to meet emerging needs and
changes to mission priorities. The handheld tool will allow for greater
flexibility by being able to be carried with the crew for on-the-fly mission
changes. Prototype software is to be loaded on an ACV or appropriate test
platform for human factors and regression testing at Naval Surface Warfare
Center Panama City Division (NSWC-PCD).
Develop a concept for an MPS/LMAT for ACVs with an onboard handheld device that
meets the requirements of mission planning tools for the unique sets of
performance tables/data for the LCAC 100 Class with Advanced skirt, and SLEP
LCAC with deep skirt as well as different power settings and engine performance
tables for MT7 andETF40B engines. Ensure that the performance data will be
contained within the software installed in a PDA-type device and the land-based
desktop system, which will allow removal of the bulk of the performance data
from the SEAOPS Volumes and eliminate the complex iterative hand calculations
within the planning process. Incorporate latest data from all SEAOPS Volumes
into PDA as described above. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in
meeting Navy needs and demonstrate that the MPS concept can be readily and
cost-effectively manufactured through standard industry practices by proof
testing and analytical modeling. The Phase I Option, if exercised, should
include the initial layout and capabilities to build the prototype in Phase II.
Develop and deliver a prototype MPS/LMAT with an onboard handheld device that
meets the intent of the Description. Demonstrate the prototype on an ACV or
appropriate test platform for human factors and regression testing at NSWC-PCD
and support the testing. Evaluate the prototype to determine its compatibility
with current craft layout and ability to perform to requirements. Use
evaluation results to refine the prototype into a design that will meet the
LCAC SLEP and LCAC 100 class Specifications. Prepare a Phase III development
plan and cost analysis to transition the technology to Navy use. Provide
detailed drawings, code and specifications in Navy-defined format.
DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the MPS for use on the
Navy ACV program. Refine the design of the MPS, according to the PMS 377 Phase
III SOW, for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally
The SSC MPS will have private sector commercial potential for craft of this
scale operating in the near-shore or on-shore environment. Commercial
applications include hovercrafts, airplanes, helicopters, ferries, the oil and
mineral exploration/retrieval, automotive, and cold climate research and
Jacob A., Conway, Bruce A., and Williams, Trevor. “Automated Mission Planning
via Evolutionary Algorithms.” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol.
35, No. 6, November-December 2012. https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/1.54101
Luca, Guglieri, Giorgio, Quagliotti, Fulvia, Sale, Ilaria and Lunghi, Alessio.
“Ground Control Station Embedded Mission Planning for UAS.” Journal of
Intelligent & Robotic Systems, January 2013, Volume 69, Issue 1-4, pp.
Ship-to-Shore Connector; Air Cushion Vehicle; Mission Planning Software;
Machine Learning; Hovercraft; Artificial Intelligence; ACV; ML; AI