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Low C-SWaP EO/IR Sensor Technology for Attritable Platforms


TECH FOCUS AREAS: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)




OBJECTIVE: The objective of this topic is to develop low cost, size, weight, and power (C-SWaP) electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensing technologies and capabilities that can be incorporated onto attritable platforms.  The resultant sensing technology/capability will support air-to-ground mission areas in contested environments.  Example mission areas include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); target detection; and target identification.


DESCRIPTION:  Future engagements may necessitate operations in contested environments, thereby putting high value platforms and associated sensors at risk. As such, future missions may utilize lower cost, attritable platforms to minimize those risks and provide support operations in contested environments.  Objective EO/IR sensing technologies planned for attritable platforms have significant C-SWaP constraints over traditional platforms.  Given the recent proliferation of small unmanned aerial vehicle technologies in the commercial sector, attritable platforms are experiencing significant development and maturation in their own capabilities.  With the advent of new low C-SWaP EO/IR sensing technologies and capabilities that can couple with such platforms, the types of commercial applications able to leverage the combined technology becomes very broad (e.g., including but not limited to precision agriculture, land surveying, and environmental monitoring).


To advance toward the objective technologies and capabilities for the air-to-ground mission, many EO/IR sensing topologies are under consideration from imaging to non-imaging schemes using passive and/or active EO/IR sensing modalities.  Examples include, but are not limited to: broadband EO/IR, multi-spectral, hyperspectral, polarimetric, direct-detect lidar, coherent lidar, vibrometry, etc.  Research and development can include full system-level designs or advancement of component technology.  Along with such development, physics-based and performance-based modeling and simulation of components and system-level designs are necessary to aid in evaluation of expected performance and in the development of a Concept of Operations (CONOPS).  Examples of component and system-level designs include, but are not limited to: detectors, photonics, telescopes, transmitters, receivers, spectrometers, etc.


Currently, no attritable platforms have been identified to represent an objective platform.  However, a minimum operating altitude requirement of 30 kft (T) is specified in order to provide rationale to any offeror-derived requirements/justifications for their proposed EO/IR sensing technology/capability.  No government-furnished equipment, data, and/or facilities will be provided.


PHASE I: Develop necessary plans and concept designs for the proposed EO/IR technology or capability in order to demonstrate its viability. Include appropriate initial laboratory demonstrations as required.


PHASE II: Develop and execute detailed plans and designs for the proposed EO/IR technology or capability.  Develop the model and simulation capability of the proposed EO/IR technology or

capability in order to support CONOPS development. Develop breadboard prototype demonstrating the proposed EO/IR component or system.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop, refine, and execute detailed plans and designs for the proposed EO/IR technology or capability to be inserted onto an attritable platform.  Develop and refine the model and simulation capability of the proposed EO/IR technology or capability in order to support CONOPS development for a designated military/commercial application. Develop a flight representative prototype demonstrating the proposed EO/IR component or system on an attritable platform in support of a designated military/commercial application.


NOTES: 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 proposed tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the Announcement and within the AF Component-specific instructions. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws. Please direct questions to the Air Force SBIR/STTR Help Desk:



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  3. Zhou, J., Yang, Y., Li, L., Agarwal, S., Nguyen, S., Giljum, A., Kelly, K., “Developing, integrating and validating a compressive hyperspectral video imager” Proc. SPIE. 11423, Signal Processing, Sensor/Information Fusion, and Target Recognition XXIX


KEYWORDS: attritable; low-cost; sensor; sensing; optical; electro-optical/infrared; EO/IR; passive EO/IR; active EO/IR; broadband EO/IR; multi-spectral; hyperspectral; polarimetric; LIDAR; direct-detect LIDAR; coherent LIDAR; vibrometry; optical detectors; photonics; telescopes; optical transmitters; optical receivers; spectrometers; low-cost imaging; low-cost EO/IR sensing

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