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Identifying and Characterizing Cognitive Sensor Systems in Tactical Environments


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Information Systems, Air Platform

OBJECTIVE: Develop methods to remotely probe an adversary’s cognitive sensor system in order to characterize the nature of their response to changing stimulus.

DESCRIPTION: Our adversaries’ fielding of cognitive sensor systems rapidly adapt in response to a challenging tactical environment. These cognitive systems employ a sense-learn-adapt loop. In many instantiations, these sensing systems train continuously while operational in an unsupervised fashion to gain maximum additivity to a dynamic threat environment. For example, concepts for true cognitive electronic warfare systems envision a neural network driven sensor that “should be able to enter into an environment not knowing anything about adversarial systems, understand them and even devise countermeasures rapidly” [Ref 1]. Obviously as our adversaries field these systems, we seek methods to detect their presence and characterize their response to a changing tactical environment. The Navy seeks to stimulate these responses through its own purposeful probing in order to observe their evolving sense-learn-adapt loop responses. This understanding is vital to assessing the threat these systems pose as their adaptability poses a significant military threat.The solution must be applicable for both Navy airborne electronic warfare and radar systems.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 Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor 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 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: Design and develop conceptual methods to remotely probe an adversary’s cognitive sensor system for the purpose of characterizing the nature of their response to changing stimulus. The methods should be applicable to both electronic warfare and radar systems. Perform an unclassified proof of concept demonstration to show the scientific and technical merit of candidate approaches. The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Perform detailed development and demonstrate the prototype techniques in terms of operational feasibility. Prepare a detailed concept of operations describing the implementation of the approach in the field and potential challenges in its implementation for both electronic warfare and radar systems.Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in the Description section.

PHASE III: Complete development, perform final testing, and integrate and transition the final solution to Navy airborne platforms. The general techniques might be applicable to gaining insight into web-based applications, which are cognitive in nature.

KEYWORDS: Cognitive, Sensors, Adaptivity, Countermeasures, Remote Sensing, Radar, Cognitive Sensor System


1. Pomerleau, M. “What is the Difference Between Adaptive and Cognitive Electronic Warfare?” C2/Comms, December 16, 2016. 2. Dong, Y., Zhang, Y., Ma, H. et al. “An Adaptive System for Detecting Malicious Queries in Web Attacks.” Sci. China Inf. Sci. 61, 032114, 2018.

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