Multi-variable Unmanned Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) system assessment and optimization toolkit

Navy SBIR 24.1 - Topic N241-061
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET

N241-061 TITLE: Multi-variable Unmanned Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) system assessment and optimization toolkit

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Trusted AI and Autonomy

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: Develop an analytical toolkit that allows identification, examination, and optimization of tradeoffs of proposed unmanned Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)platforms (and their hosted systems), enables comparison of their performance to that of existing manned counterparts, and provides performance metrics for various combinations of unmanned and manned assets in conducting selected theater ASW missions.

DESCRIPTION: The toolkit will enable analysis of the performance of potential unmanned ASW platforms, balancing their unique capabilities and constraints (e.g., self-noise, endurance, operating speed, payload capacity, etc.) with different sensors/sensor configurations, different numbers of platforms, viability of various acoustic and RF communications paths, and performance against selected real-world targets in relevant operating environments. The tool will allow examination of search area, coverage rate, probability of detection vs probability of false alarm, cost per unit area covered, etc. The tool will account for the inherent mobility of unmanned maritime vehicles to optimize area coverage, based on vehicle capabilities and sensor payload selections.

The toolkit will be applicable to all potential phases of ASW operations, including barrier search, wide area open ocean search, classification, localization, and engagement. Environmental variability will be taken into account to provide sensor coverage estimates for various theater ASW scenarios. Based on environmental variables and constraints and expected target detection and classification parameters, the tool will assess sensors of differing modalities and optimize sensor selection and asset allocation. The tool will account for both acoustic and non-acoustic means to detect, classify, and localize targets. Inputs from oceanographic field forecasts will be used to optimize ASW laydowns of assets, manned and unmanned. The tool will enable direct comparison of performance to manned counterparts but will also analyze performance of unmanned systems working in conjunction with manned platforms to enhance theater ASW. The tool will allow an operator to simultaneously examine the performance of multiple platforms (manned and unmanned) and explore different deployment options (i.e., different force laydown/formations) against a number of threat options. The system will determine optimal placement of these assets and associated sensors, and be used to inform development of critical technologies. For scenarios involving multiple unmanned surface and undersea vehicles, the toolkit will consider track synchronization requirements across multiple platforms, defining communication paths required to achieve contact correlation and coherent target track formation. Track synchronization shall be timely, robust, and accurate enough to support automated contact correlation. The toolkit will be able to take into account cases where one or more unmanned platforms or sensors fail or are unable to communicate during mission execution, resulting in the need to reallocate and redistribute assets to provide the best area coverage for the scenario. Shifts from a benign communications environment to a degraded communications environment will be considered and taken into account. Toolkit assessments and theater-level allocation recommendations will be able to be dispersed across Commands via assured server to server communication.

The toolkit will provide information via a map-based graphical display that is intuitive and easily understood by a trained operator. The toolset will provide waterspace management capability for manned and unmanned platforms, allocating undersea assets by depth in addition to latitude and longitude position. The toolkit will provide graphical means to display analysis products for areas of interest (two dimensions) or for volumetric water spaces (three dimensions). The toolset will have the ability to easily update ASW target characteristics in order to predict ASW performance of selected platforms and sensors. Although not the focus of this SBIR topic, the basic technology will be extensible to Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) and Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) targets and scenarios.

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 ONR 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 the algorithmic baseline that will underlie the analysis toolkit, showing that the algorithms work for a small number of variables (on the order of ten distributed vehicles, either surface or undersea in nature, working with one or more manned platforms). Demonstrate that the system is capable of learning or accepting performance data for each variable. Demonstrate the optimization of the variables against a pertinent ASW mission scenario in a realistic acoustic environment. Algorithms can be in Matlab or other code development tools for this demonstration.

PHASE II: Develop a software system that can handle thousands of variables. Key types of variables including but not limited to platforms, sensors, communication, costs, environment, and targets. Each type of variable will have performance metrics associated with the system. The final system should be a graphics-based input output with touch screen capability. The system will allow the operator to enter the ASW platforms, unmanned vehicles, and the sensors available to them. The system will allow ingestion of environmental modeling data necessary to develop realistic coverage estimates for all sensors against the range of targets in the data base. The system will then compute the optimal placement of platforms against metrics such as probability of detection, probability of classification, probability of false alarm, area coverage, and weapons engagement capability.

Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in Description paragraph.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The transition project would be to a mission planning system for use by the ONR 321 ASW team for analyzing new technology development potentials.

REFERENCES:

  1. EFFECTIVENESS OF UNMANNED SURFACE VEHICLES IN ANTI-SUBMARINE WARFARE WITH THE GOAL OF PROTECTING A HIGH VALUE UNIT, Naval Postgraduate School
  2. STUDY OF INTEGRATED USV/UUV OBSERVATION SYSTEM PERFORMANCE IN MONTEREY BAY, Naval Postgraduate School

KEYWORDS: Operations analysis; anti-submarine warfare; multi-variable optimization; multi-sensor; unmanned system; unmanned surface vessel (USV)


** TOPIC NOTICE **

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The DoD issued its Navy 24.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).

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