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Situational Awareness Sensors for Airdrop Operations


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Develop, integrate, and demonstrate within Soldier/Squad network an aerial situational awareness system that senses, locate and share enemy threat information to personnel or cargo dropped from an airdrop aircraft. System proposed will focus on airdrops from high altitudes, up to 25,000 ft. with high glide ratios of 3 to 1. Objective is to demonstrate a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5/6 at end of Phase II. Primary focus for system is threat areas up to 2 miles (at altitudes of 20,000 ft.) forward of direction that airdrops systems are heading within +/- 45o (Threshold) and +/-90o (Objective). 

DESCRIPTION: Integrated system provides airdrop unit leadership, real time, actionable intelligence and information that localizes enemy command centers/leadership, weapons (artillery, tank and mortars) fire, combat vehicles, and enemy combatants. Airdropped Soldiers and supplies have a unique high altitude perspective with clear sensory views of impact areas and assembly points. Airdropped units and assets will have direct line of sight beginning at 25,000 AGL in direction of travel out to + 2.0 miles. Airdrop units, on the ground, should have the ability to perform automated ‘Calls for Fire’ on enemy high value assets and targets. The integrated system will operate as a Squad Node in the Soldier/Squad Network and synthesize sensory hits into actionable intelligence with estimated location, type, accuracy, and threat as an ICON on the Net Warrior Display. The system will integrate and synthesize visual, acoustic, infrared, radio frequency transmissions, and environmental factors and sensors. Systems and components will be exposed to the harsh environments of airdrop operations, i.e. high G parachute opening shocks, Aircraft exit speeds, ground impacts, high altitudes pressures, cold temperatures, rain, and prolonged hot humid storage. Innovative solutions are required that localize potential targets with high accuracy and speed, with low bandwidth, and a clear identification of threat. System solutions rate higher when lighter, smaller, high accuracy, power efficient, and lower life cycle cost. Current state of art devices include vehicle mounted gunshot localization systems, vehicle sensors, and radio detection systems in fighter aircraft systems. Integrated system must fit within the operational constrains of an airdropped unit 

PHASE I: Explain how your knowledge of related technologies is best suited for Project success. Describe what innovative research approaches that you intend to use to demonstrate technical feasibility during Phase I. Describe analytical/algorithm approaches you will use to show how you will go from sensory data to Nett Warrior compatible Situational Awareness Intelligentsia/information. Describe sensory state of art technologies you will advance (if any) vs. leveraging OTS components and why. Describe how you will reduce false positives. Describe how your Phase II system will integrate to the jumper and/or his equipment and Airdrop cargo/payloads. Describe which of your system sensor ‘data to Information’ with transmission will be demonstrated in Phase I and how. Recommend consideration of Breadboard Prototype lifted to various altitudes by a weather balloon or other means to demonstrate data to information algorithm with radio transition to ground station of some kind. Deliver a report identifying System Sensor and processor choices with rational, algorithm choices for each selected sensory technology, SWAP-C considerations for Phase II system, explanation of tests to be conducted on Phase I Breadboard prototypes with results and recommended Phase II Test Plans. 

PHASE II: Describe your major R&D effort necessary to complete Sensor data to Information conversions and sensor packaging, computing and communication hardware and demonstrate utility of at least 4 fully functional multiple sensory prototypes that attached to objective Personnel or Cargo suspended under Parachute/Airdrop Systems referenced below. In addition to the 4 fully functional prototypes, deliverables should include all Algorithms and code developed, interface control drawings, performance descriptors suitable for use in a Performance Specification. By the end of Phase II, a PM interested in supporting fielding of the Phase II device or a variant of the same must support fielding of your sensory device. Identify the anticipated Production Cost and describe and estimate support related costs. 

PHASE III: The initial use of this technology will be to provide nearby Squad/Platoon Leaders and Battlefield Commanders with high quality Situational Awareness accessible during Airdrop Operations. With this Situational Awareness these Leaders/Commanders will readily be able to eliminate targets of high value and to maneuver Lethality assets to maximize protection and lethality of their maneuver elements. In addition to interfacing with High Altitude High Glide Airdrop Systems, the system may interface with Drones, Weather Balloons, Helicopters and any number of ground vehicles as well as being implacable on tall buildings and hill tops. 


1: PM FSS Fact Sheet: Improved Joint Precision Airdrop System 2,400 LBS (JPADS 2K)

2:  PM FSS Fact Sheet: Joint Precision Airdrop System 10,000 POUNDS (JPADS 10K)

3:  Technical Manual ARMY TM 10-1670-335-23&P: RA-1 ADVANCED RAM AIR PARACHUTE SYSTEM (ARAPS)




7:  MIL-STD-2525D, Department of Defense Interface Standard: Common Warfighting Symbology (10-JUN-2014).

KEYWORDS: Sensors, High Altitude High Glide Airdrop, Situation Awareness, Nett Warrior, Targeting, Soldier/Squad Network 


Bruce Buckland 

(508) 233-4799 

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