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Hardened Scalar and Vector Magnetometer Development


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Sensing and Cyber;Trusted AI and Autonomy;Integrated Network System-of-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 the Announcement. 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 an environmentally hardened sensor package to provide magnetic navigation aiding on manned, unmanned, and weapon systems. Hardware should be appropriate for high vibration, low and high temperatures and altitudes while providing high-rate, accurate, and accurately timestamped magnetic measurements


DESCRIPTION: Navigation in contested environments is a critical capability for the Air Force and DoD. More flight systems are beginning to employ non-GPS navigation aiding to increase system robustness in contested environments [1]. This effort seeks to develop or modify magnetometer sensor payloads in support of modular, service-based GPS-denied navigation capabilities.   Hardware should provide a highly accurate measurement of the magnitude of the magnetic field (i.e. a scalar measurement) at a rate of 100Hz or higher (ideally 1000Hz), regardless of the orientation of the magnetic field relative to the hardware. The standard deviation of the scalar magnetic measurement error should be below 5nT, with 1-2nT preferred and should not experience prolonged measurement drop-outs. This may require multiple sensor heads, or any other approach that delivers consistent, high-rate measurements. However, output of the measurements of each individual head is desired.   The system should also provide a measurement of the magnetic field vector at a rate of 25Hz or higher. The standard deviation of the measurement error in each axis of the magnetic vector sensor should be less than 100nT, with better than 25nT preferred.  If the vector sensor can meet the scalar sensor requirement, i.e., the three measurements combined to meet the scalar specifications, no scalar sensor would be required [2].   Sensitivity of the magnetic sensors to environmental factors (e.g. temperature, pressure, humidity) should be well understood (and possibly compensated), and additional sensors to measure any relevant quantities that could affect the magnetic measurements should be considered in the development of the hardware package, e.g., a system temperature sensor or multiple sensors in the case higher resolution is necessary.    Hardware solutions should target a small size, weight, and power (SWaP). The sensor package and necessary drivers/processors should target 12 cubic inches. Sensor development may target larger SWaP values if needed, however proposals meeting SWaP goals will be prioritized and proposals with larger SWaP goals must include a clear path to a reduced footprint.  The system should accept a 1 pulse per second (PPS) time source to drive timestamping. When an external 1PPS is not provided, the hardware package should still maintain accurate relative time stamping between each individual sensor.   Sensor and drivers/processors can be collocated or packaged separately. Any necessary cabling should be highly flexible, appropriate for varied lengths, and provide shielding to the sensor data transmitted.   All external messaging to and from the sensor package will be based on the All-Source Positioning and Navigation (ASPN) 3.1 or higher ICDs wherever feasible. Relevant ASPN ICD information will be provided upon request.


PHASE I: As this is a Direct-to-Phase-II (D2P2) topic, no Phase I awards will be made as a result of this topic. To qualify for this D2P2 topic, the Government expects the applicant to demonstrate feasibility by means of a prior “Phase I-type” effort that does not constitute work undertaken as part of a prior SBIR/STTR funding agreement. A successful "Phase I-type" effort will constitute the development of a hardware system bread-board level prototype demonstrating real-time, time-stamped magnetic scalar (possibly x2), vector, and temperature measurements  UPDATE:  A successful phase I effort will constitute the design of a hardware system bread-board level prototype demonstrating real-time, time-stamped magnetic scalar (possibly x2), vector, and temperature measurements.


PHASE II: A successful phase II effort will constitute the development of a hardware system and testing of real-time, time-stamped magnetic scalar (possibly x2), vector, and temperature measurements.  Hardware development efforts will produce prototype hardware systems appropriate for flight environments, lab vibration, temperature, and altitude testing, and demonstrate data acquisition on AFRL-lead flights.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III will consist of a) transitioning prototype sensor hardware to an operationally approved ASPN compliant navigation system on an operational UAV or weapon system and/or b) scaling production beyond 1-5 units to show MRL/repeatability.



  1. A. Canciani and J. Raquet, "Airborne Magnetic Anomaly Navigation," in IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 67-80, Feb. 2017, doi: 10.1109/TAES.2017.2649238; 
  2. A. J. Canciani and C. J. Brennan, "An Analysis of the Benefits and Difficulties of Aerial Magnetic Vector Navigation," in IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, vol. 56, no. 6, pp. 4161-4176, Dec. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TAES.2020.2987475.


KEYWORDS: Magnetometer; Navigation; GPS-denied; GPS-Degraded; Open Architecture; ASPN, Modular

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