Coordinated Effectiveness Assessment

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-035
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N241-035 TITLE: Coordinated Effectiveness Assessment

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Directed Energy (DE);Integrated Network Systems-of-Systems

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 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: Provide an automated Tactical Effectiveness Service for Electromagnetic Effectors (TES-EE) within the decision support services of the Integrated Combat System which provides consistent and accurate real-time effectiveness assessment of electromagnet engagements for coordinated engagements among hardkill and softkill effectors across the force.

DESCRIPTION: Typical engagements conducted by Naval platforms employ either hardkill or softkill effectors. Kinetic effectors (hardkill) such as missiles, naval guns, or other types of projectiles defeat targets primarily using kinetic energy alone or with the assistance of energetics to physically damage or destroy the target, rendering it harmless as a threat. The effects of a kinetic engagement are generally straightforward to observe, and may include rapid changes of trajectory, observing a single target becoming many smaller targets, detection of explosions, inability to reacquire the target after impact, and many others. In short, the effects are typically easily observable using typical Naval sensor suites. A limitation of kinetic effectors is that they are limited in number, and once expended, are not easily replenished in the heart of a battle.

Conversely, electromagnetic (EM) engagements (softkill), such as those accomplished through lasers, high power microwaves, other radio frequency (RF) sources, or other electronic attack mechanisms, can be much more subtle in their effects and may not be directly observable by naval sensor suites. Where kinetic weapons like missiles typically take time to travel to the target, but once there, achieve a near-instantaneous effect, EM engagements may start immediately (think of applying laser energy to a target), but may take some amount of time to accomplish their purpose (that is, laser dwell time on a spot to burn a hole). Some EM effects may be observable, such as in the case of a laser burning a hole in the flight control surfaces of an unmanned aerial vehicle, causing it to plummet to the water below. Others, such as RF energy, may be achieving an effect to prevent the target from acquiring its target, but from outside observation, the target is still behaving nominally. EM effectors, unlike kinetic effectors, are not inherently limited to a finite number of shots, and therefore may represent a greater number of engagement opportunities than their kinetic analogs.

A challenge for naval forces is achieving efficient expenditure of effectors to balance adequate self-protection with mission completion. EM effectors offer the promise of defeating threats without the expenditure of limited kinetic effectors, which can then be preserved for the most stressing threats. The ability to defeat threats with a mix of kinetic and EM effectors opens the possibility of optimizing the use of engagement resources to defeat the greatest number of threats while prolonging the amount of time the force can stay in the fight. This is only possible if the predicted effectiveness of a weapon can be determined and the actual effect against a live target can be assessed in real-time. Herein lies the challenge inherent to EM weapons, and subsequently the challenge in effective kinetic/EM coordination. To effectively make use of EM weapons, the warfighter (or the combat system acting on the warfighter’s behalf) must be able to determine if the EM weapon being employed is achieving the desired effect. The greater confidence the warfighter has that the weapon will achieve the intended effect against the target, the more likely he or she is to rely on it in real circumstances. Similarly, in live operations, the ability to confidently determine whether the EM weapon is being effective on an engagement-by-engagement basis is critical to efficient and effective employment of coordinated kinetic/EM engagements. Currently, there is no commercial means to make this assessment.

The Navy needs a means by which to assess in real time the softkill effectiveness expectation that EM weapons are having against a threat to make decisions about whether additional engagement resources may be needed. Moreover, confidence in the predicted effectiveness of EM weapons as well as the real-time performance may even lead to warfighter decisions to employ them first, ostensibly preserving kinetic effectors. This tradeoff is a challenge when conducting engagements from a single ship, and only grows more complex as we scale to the Integrated Combat System (ICS) vision of force-level engagement coordination of kinetic and EM effects. An automated TES-EE is needed to determine how real-time effectiveness of EM engagements can be consistently determined and provided to the warfighter across the spectrum of naval EM weapons (e.g., directed energy, electronic attack, high-power RF/microwave, etc.). An operator must be able to confidently rely on the effectiveness of data being provided in order to make decisions regarding employment of supplemental weapons for the engagement.

The solution will leverage all available sensor and data feeds available on a surface ship to assess effectiveness of EM Effectors and communicate that to the ICS as a success/no-success or percent chance of success assessment of the desired EM Effector intent. Effectiveness assessments should be presented to operators as a combination of an ‘alert’ and relevant data for each effector engagement pairing via current operator graphical user interfaces and may leverage updates to display architectures planned by ICS. Transition is expected to be via the ICS program, notionally as a hosted application, service, or container(s) as best supports the implementation.

The solution will provide a description of mechanisms for assessing the real-time performance of EM Effectors (such as SLQ-32(V)7, LEED, NULKA, etc.) against nominal threats in the context of a surface Navy combat system. Additionally, the Government desires a System Modeling Language (SysML) model and sufficient views to represent the TES-EE concept that captures necessary TES-EE inputs and system responses agnostic to a specific combat system and analyses to quantify expected impacts to self-defense performance and potential confidence bounds associated with EM versus kinetic weapon expenditures.

The TES-EE prototype will demonstrate software algorithms, present EM real-time effectiveness data to the warfighter supporting tactical decision making, provide data and associated analyses demonstrating kinetic weapon expenditure reduction through effective EM weapon employment, a software design model of the prototype TES-EE with traceability to the system model, and a white paper describing the prototype TES-EE’s extensibility to supporting force-level (multiple ships acting in concert) engagements.

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 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project 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 during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Reference: National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual (NISP), 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq. (1993). https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-32/subtitle-B/chapter-XX/part-2004

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a TES-EE that meets the objectives stated in the Description. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting the Navy’s need. Feasibility shall be demonstrated by a combination of analysis, modeling, and simulation as stated in the Description. 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 a prototype TES-EE based on the results of Phase I. Demonstrate the prototype’s functionality through software design modeling that provides the warfighter real-time data for tactical weapon employment decisions in a containerized microservices architecture.

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 to Navy use. The final product will be the set of containerized applications that make up the TES-EE along with the necessary product-level objective quality evidence to support authorization for demonstrations via Mission Readiness Assessments (MRAs) and certification as part of the ICS. Developers for TES-EE are encouraged to leverage the Forge Ecosystem for development and testing to leverage the benefits of the Surface Navy’s DevSecOps pipeline for combat systems. Support Level 3-5 combat system test events as necessary.

The TES-EE will provide a critical Decision Support Service as part of the ICS Combat Management System architecture, paving the way for integrated kinetic/EM coordination. The TES-EE will be able to be deployed to USN ships of all classes (DDG, FFG, CVN, L-Class) upgraded with a computing environment that enables independent applications/services to be employed. All ICS platforms will enable independent applications/services within the combat system enclave.

As a standalone application or as a plug in with other decision support applications, there are potential commercial applications in the communications sector assessing or obviating electromagnetic interference in over-the-air communications through frequency agility or bandwidth management methodologies and enhancing site security assessments associated with vehicle disablement options at facility entry points.

REFERENCES:

  1. Epstein, Megan. "How the US Navy is creating the ‘nirvana of one combat system'" DefenseNews 8 February 2023 https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2023/02/08/how-the-us-navy-is-creating-the-nirvana-of-one-combat-system/
  2. Dinc, Mustafa. "Threat Evaluation, Sensor Allocation and Weapon Assignment (TEWASA)." Bilkent University, September 2018. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327573263_Threat_Evaluation_Sensor_Allocation_and_Weapon_Assignment_TEWASA
  3. Roe, Charles L. "An Operational Computer Program to Control Self Defense Surface Missile System Operations." Johns Hopkins APL Technical Digest, Volume 12, Number 4, 1991. https://secwww.jhuapl.edu/techdigest/Content/techdigest/pdf/V12-N04/12-04-Roe_Oper.pdf

KEYWORDS: Engagement Coordination; Hardkill or Softkill Effectors; Integrated Combat System; Decision Support Services; Softkill Effectiveness; Real-Time Effectiveness Assessment


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Topic Q & A

1/19/24  Q. What sensors and data feeds are expected to be available (e.g., radar, EO/IR, comms)?
   A. Organic radar, EO/IR, and ES sensors located on the ship can provide data; however, availability is dependent on the local ship combat system configuration. Information from remote ships may be available thought tactical communication link (e.g. Link 16).
1/19/24  Q. Is it expected that the proposed system should take into consideration effectiveness of kinetic weapons and expenditures or is EM effectiveness the only consideration ?
   A. EM effectiveness is the only consideration for this topic.

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