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Optical Wave Guide Integrated Weather Sensor

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Special Operations Command
Contract: FA8651-14-C-0132
Agency Tracking Number: S101-006-0015a
Amount: $1,766,567.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SOCOM10-006
Solicitation Number: 2010.1
Solicitation Year: 2010
Award Year: 2014
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2014-05-30
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2016-02-17
Small Business Information
1845 West 205th Street
Torrance, CA 90501-1510
United States
DUNS: 000000000
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Chris Ulmer
 Director, Engineering
 (310) 320-3088
Business Contact
 Gordon Drew
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Phone: (310) 320-3088
Research Institution

ABSTRACT: Physical Optics Corporation (POC) seeks to meet the need of an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) deficiency by fielding a capable remote expendable reporting environmental sensor that will greatly enhance the AFSOC Special Operation Weather Teams (SOWTs) ability to provide timely, accurate and critical deep battlespace weather reconnaissance and intelligence. SOCOM SBIR 10-006 provided $1.8M in funding to POC (Torrance, CA) and, as a result, enabled the development of a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) -6 weather sensor prototype, the Micro Weather Sensor (MWS), which meets or exceeds AFSOC remote sensor requirements. As required by the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), software was also developed and implemented to ingest, compile, and disseminate MWS data. Currently, the MWS provides a Meteorological Aviation Report (METAR) at 20, 60, or 180 minute intervals (user defined) and 360 daytime color imagery (on demand) that is fully integrated into the AFW-WEBS weather monitoring system. Future MWS enhancements (beyond the initial STTP) include an integrated ceilometer onto the main platform, air-emplacement capability, winds aloft above the sensor measurement, chemical/toxic industrial contaminants and radiological detection/reporting, and acoustic signature detection capabilities. BENEFIT: The intended customers are Combatant Commanders (air & ground)/mission planners/mission tracking and post mission analysts, Air Force Weather Agency, [Navy] Fleet Numerical Meteorological Oceanographic Center (FNMOC), DoD service components, Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and coalition partners (as required). This effort will satisfy a combined U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) and Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) Joint Urgent Operational Need Statement (JUONS) CC-0272, AFSOC Deficiency 0355, Automatically Collect & Transmit Weather Observations in Deep Battle Space, DEF0205, Combine Weather Data into Battlespace Awareness Depictions for Mission Planning, Rehearsal, and Operational C2 Systems, and an AFWA requirement for a remote weather observation sensor as outlined in Observing System 21 (ORD OS-21 I/II/III). Additionally, it will help resolve HQ AFSOC Prioritized Gap List (FY15-34) PGL5 Situational Awareness and PGL36 Planning Integration, and Joint Special Operations Command, Special Operations Meteorological and Oceanographic Collection and Integration System (SOMCIS) Capability Development Document (CDD) (JSOC, 21 Mar 07). The Micro Weather Sensor (MWS) is new technology that fills a longstanding remote sensing surface weather data collection gap. A primary objective of a remote sensor is to collect weather information over large spatial, denied, and inaccessible areas and integrate the data with other information to aid decision-making. Getting more data points on the atmosphere, more frequently and from more locations is the key to improving forecasts and warnings for mission planning and execution events. Therefore, remote sensors are invaluable to increasing the accuracy and timeliness of military support forecasts and warningsthe overriding goal of this effort. A basic necessity, therefore, is that critical aviation weather parameters are measured when and where they are needed most: flight ingress/egress routes and data sparse regions where military aviation assets are operating. SOWT elements currently have two (2) systems in their inventory for tactical/field use, the Advanced Distributive Sensor Systems (ADSS) Weather POD and the Vaisala TMQ-53. Both of these systems are bulky, heavy, and relatively expensive and neither fully satisfies SOWT remote sensing requirements (size, weight, low-detection profile). The TMQ-53 is the AF standard tactical meteorological system weighing approximately 100 lbs (when packaged for transport) and costs approximately $250K per system. The ADSS Weather POD consists of four separate equipment items with a combined weight of nearly 40 lbs and a cost of approximately $100K per system. Additionally, the ADSS Weather POD program has been terminated, so replacing/maintaining current systems is no longer a viable option. The MWS in its current Phase II configuration, by comparison, consists of 2 equipment items (basic sensor and a plug/play ceilometer) with a combined weight of <3 pounds and costs approximately $27K to $54K per system (anticipated post Phase III NRE production cost at quantity 500 and 50 respectively) which provides per system cost savings of more than $200K, as compared to the TMQ-53. The MWS is self-powered through an on-board battery pack and solar panels, providing up to 90 days of continuous operation, whereas the TMQ-53 and ADSS systems require hardwired power for operation. The MWS also eliminates the burdensome systems administration costs of the TMQ-53 by using Iridium connectivity. Via the Iridium Constellation satellite system, the MWS can detect and report fourteen weather elements up to 3 times each hour, and also features new capabilities over existing/fielded systems, such as panoramic image capture, snow and dust accumulation detection, and single switch operation. The STTP enhances/accelerates the MWS in several ways: strengthens the basic MWS sensor casing, lengthening the field life and increasing reliability; fixes identified sensing/reporting issues; institutes upgrades to improve performance in all environmental conditions, including extreme cold weather conditions; provides systems for follow on testing and evaluation; develops the capability to replace batteries and extend service life, thus providing cost savings; and automates the manufacturing process to decrease production costs by up to 300%.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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