Electronic Warfare System Alert Monitoring, Prioritization, and Display

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-050
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 18, 2021 (12:00pm EDT)

N211-050 TITLE: Electronic Warfare System Alert Monitoring, Prioritization, and Display

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Machine Learning/AI


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 algorithms and visual display elements to ingest, analyze, prioritize, display, and monitor electronic warfare system alerts that optimize human operator performance and combat efficiency.

DESCRIPTION: The Navy’s surface electronic warfare (EW) systems are receiving a series of complete technology upgrades under a phased development and acquisition approach that delivers new capabilities (system hardware) to the Fleet in "block" updates. This includes the introduction of new electronic support (ES), electronic attack (EA), countermeasures (CM), and electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) systems. Taken collectively, these updates result in a completely new, fully modernized, and greatly expanded Surface Fleet EW capability. However, the increased levels of performance and enhanced mission capabilities being deployed by these hardware improvements are accompanied by an increased burden on the EW operator. The EW operator now has access to more ES information of a greater depth than ever before. As sensor data from radar, EO sensors, and even other ships are fused with the expanded ES data available, the burden on the operator increases exponentially. Operator overload and fatigue are serious problems. While some of this data can be processed automatically by using machine learning or adaptive algorithms, the Navy cannot remove the operator entirely from the loop and the EW operator and display will remain a critical element in surface combat.

Of particular importance, the EW operator receives a continuous stream of alerts detailing target contacts, system performance, and mission status. Add to these external cues, commands, and situational updates and the volume of alerts can rapidly become unmanageable, especially during highly dynamic operations in dense signal environments. These alerts are important to maintaining successful operations; however, not every alert is of equal importance. Operation during stressing engagements demands that the operator recognize and parse the most important information in real time and in parallel with a large amount of other information presented on the display. While this problem is currently revealing itself in EW operations, the same situation will no doubt present itself in other display consoles as other legacy weapon systems are upgraded and new weapon systems (such as directed energy weapons) are introduced to the Fleet. There are no current commercial applications that can meet this need.

The Navy requires an alert messaging management and display technology that ingests, analyzes, prioritizes, organizes, monitors, displays, and tracks alert information presented on the EW operator display. The solution should incorporate a coherent methodology, realized in an architecture of algorithms, and demonstrated on representative displays. Tactical software is not expected from this effort. The solution must be modular and extensible to allow deployment to other display consoles (for example, future directed energy weapons displays) and the solution must be compatible with other elements of the display – for example, processing and display of the alerts must not alter, overwrite, or obscure other elements presented on the display nor should it inhibit other display functions. Since actual tactical displays will not be available, the prototype solution should be demonstrated, tested, and validated on representative display mock-ups.

This effort expects the application of the current state of the art in human cognitive science. The solution should be dynamic to adjust to changing situations that demand re-prioritization of alerts. However, clarity of the display is paramount and the operator cannot be expected to search for constantly changing information. The solution should also include an analysis function that prioritizes and organizes alerts in light of current mission requirements and the evolving battlespace. Finally, the solution should monitor, track, and capture the operator response, elevating alerts and enhancing visual cues in order to make sure the most important alerts are addressed and not overlooked. Compatibility with embedded training events during which scripted alerts are injected into the system is required.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Propose a concept for an EW alert analysis, prioritization, and monitoring application that meets the objectives stated in the Description. Feasibility shall be demonstrated by a combination of analysis, modelling, and simulation. The feasibility analysis shall include predictions of operator performance in use of the application. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specification and capabilities description necessary to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a prototype of the concept for an EW alert analysis, prioritization, and monitoring application meeting the requirements contained in the Description. Deliver the software prototype to the Government along with full software interface descriptions and any ancillary software needed to demonstrate the application.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. Since the Phase II effort result is a prototype that is not necessarily demonstrated on a tactical system, assist in integrating the alert analysis, monitoring, and display software into the EW display tactical code. Assist in certification of the resulting tactical code. Assist the Government in testing and validating the performance of the resulting application, as integrated into the EW console. The alert display software can also be customized for additional applications such as other military systems (including radar and weapons displays) and for commercial systems such as air traffic control systems.


  1. Haberkorn, Thomas, et al. "Traffic displays for visual flight indicating track and priority cues." IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems 44, September 2014, pp. 755-766. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6898824/
  2. Moacdieh, Nadine and Sarter, Nadine. "The effects of data density, display organization, and stress on search performance: an eye tracking study of clutter." IEEE Transactions on Human-Machine Systems 47, December 2017, pp. 886-895. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7971994/

KEYWORDS: Electronic Warfare; Human-Machine Interface; Alert Monitoring; Cognitive Science for EW; Embedded Training; Algorithms for EW displays


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 21.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 8, 2020, which opens to receive proposals on January 14, 2021, and closes February 18, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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