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Airborne Multistatic Anti-Submarine Warfare Operator Target Detection and Discrimination System Workload Reduction



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA-264, Air Antisubmarine Warfare 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 section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. 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 innovative solutions to enable an operator to efficiently detect and discriminate a target(s) in an airborne multistatic Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) mission.

DESCRIPTION: Multistatic sonobuoy fields [1] for air ASW search mission are becoming more complex. The ability to utilize more sources, more receivers, and the resulting higher transmission rates provide an influx of information. As a result, the detection capabilities and data rate for contact reports (automatic detections produced by the received signal processing) is increasing dramatically. It is no longer practical for a sonar operator to be able to sift through detections one-by-one to find the target.

Techniques and tools which consolidate information from the contact reports and provide the operator with the capability to rapidly find and focus on target detections are sought. Typical active contact reports provide time difference of arrival (TDOA), bearing, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and, Doppler [2, 3], depending on the waveform type. Geographical locations based on these measurements and the positions of the sonobuoys are also typically displayed to the operator, along with a target probability surface [4] based on Bayesian inference from the observations. Innovations in graphical display of data that ease the operator's workload, ranking of contacts to bring target detections to the forefront, and automatic suppression of clutter are potential topics of interest.

Focus Areas / Elements of Consideration:

  • Information Superiority; the ability to gather, process, integrate, disseminate, and display information together with a corresponding increase in the ability to use that information.
    • Data Fusion; combining track information from a variety of sources into a single best picture of the tactical operational area.
  • Situational Awareness / Assessment; continually monitoring the dynamic picture for impacts to the plan (recognizing potential limitations in the mission plan).
  • Mission Planning; recommending updates / changes to the operational plan to ensure the highest probability of detection is possible.
  • Execution Aides, assisting the crew in executing the operational plan / mission.
    • Automation, how the information is provided within the elements of the decision-making. The Tactical Decision Aides (TDA) should be prosthesis, adding additional capabilities to the operators, or simply as a tool available to the operators. The TDA shall assist, or replace, the operator when the situation causes an excessive workload that cannot be managed by the human capabilities. These approaches are not mutually exclusive, but complementary, depending on situation context, the specific nature of the TDA element and the operator's role.

Targeted innovate solutions include:

  • TDA:
    • Algorithms.
    • Software.
    • Graphical tools.

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 Security Service (DSS). 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 project as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR 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 advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Research and investigate the suitability and feasibility of proposed technique(s) to significantly improve an operator’s ability to determine target detection(s) using simulated data at representative rates. Develop and demonstrate a conceptual model or process for an Airborne Multistatic Anti-Submarine Warfare Operator Target Detection and Discrimination System which meet the requirements stated in the Description section.

PHASE II: Design and develop an engineering level (beta) TDA and prove, by technical demonstration, the proposed technique(s) by processing existing real world data collection sets and measure the resulting improvement in operator performance in accordance with the parameters in the description.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop a production level TDA. Based on the Phase I and II efforts, develop a timeline / plan / process for implementation of the TDA and assist in transitioning the product to the commercial sector and Air ASW community through the Advanced Product Build (APB) process. Private Sector Commercial Potential: The ability to find targets in high duty cycle pulsed active sonar systems with multiple active sources is of interest to the U.S. Navy surface ship community to protect carrier strike groups. It has potential commercial application to harbor protection, security of shipping lanes, and marine mammal detection.


  • Cox, H. (1988). Fundamentals of Bistatic Active Sonar. NATO Advanced Study Institute Underwater Acoustic Data Processing
  • Ziomek, L.J. (1985). Underwater Acoustics, Academic Press, Inc., Orlando, FL
  • Neilsen, R. (1991). Sonar Signal Processing, Artech House, Inc., Boston, MA
  • Stone, L.D., Streit, R.L., Corwin, T.L. & Bell, K.L. (2014). Bayesian Multiple Target Tracking Second Edition, Artech House, Inc., Norwood, MA
  • Principles of Underwater Sound (third edition). Robert Urick, 1983

KEYWORDS: Workload Reduction; Multistatic; clutter reduction; sonar automation; Bayesian inference; ranking

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