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Innovative Semi-Active Laser (SAL) Signal Processing Techniques in Noisy Environments


OBJECTIVE: To develop and demonstrate semi-active laser (SAL) signal processing algorithms designed to optimize true target detection and tracking in noisy battlefield environments. DESCRIPTION: The military"s on-going need to maintain a precision strike capability for its SAL homing missiles and bombs depends upon industry to develop innovative signal processing techniques for discerning true target laser signal returns in the noisy electro-magnetic battlefield. As the employment of SAL-based seeker weapon systems increases, SAL countermeasures are likely to be fielded to degrade the war-fighter"s offensive capability. Conventional SAL sensor designs utilize silicon-based detectors that measure laser returns in amplitude and time. The seeker"s signal processing must be able to discriminate the coded true target return from false laser returns generated from natural or man-made sources, i.e. smokes, jammers and repeaters. These false laser returns include stretched pulses as well as correlated and non-correlated pulses with variable repetition rates. Legacy seeker designs were limited by the electronics available at the time; thereby, producing signal processing methods tailored to legacy electronics"processing capabilities and memory limitations. With the vastly improved processing and memory capabilities in modern electronics, alternative signal processing methods can implement in the seeker to optimize detection of the true target and reject false targets and noise. These techniques may include adaptive filters and other techniques that utilize characteristics (statistical, temporal, etc.) of the false target returns as discriminants. Since the engagement time for SAL weapon systems is short, these techniques must be able to be processed in real-time and within reasonable memory limitations for embedded systems. This SBIR effort will focus on developing new SAL signal processing algorithms that identify the true target"s coded laser pulses in dirty battlefield environments, prototyping the new algorithms in a SAL seeker design using silicon-based detectors, and demonstrating the algorithms in a laser seeker laboratory at the US Army"s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center. These algorithms should be compatible with contemporary SAL tracking methods. Data to be used to evaluate new algorithms will include randomly generated pulses and laser decoy pulses. A goal of this research into SAL signal processing algorithms is to maintain the viability of the existing SAL missile and bomb inventories as well as to assist future SAL seeker design efforts. PHASE I: The proposal for Phase I should identify innovative signal processing approaches that optimizes true target pulse detection and tracking in noisy environments, including natural and active SAL noise sources. Modeling of the laser sources, seeker sensor, seeker electronics and signal processing of a prototype seeker design will be performed to quantify signal processing techniques in benign and dirty battlefield environments. PHASE II: In Phase II, the signal processing algorithms will be programmed into a SAL seeker and demonstrated in an AMRDEC laser laboratory to evaluate the performance of the algorithms in benign and simulated dirty battlefield environments. Classified proposals are not accepted under the DoD SBIR Program. In the event that this effort will involve classified work in Phase II, companies invited to submit a proposal must have or be able to obtain the proper facility and personnel clearances in order to perform Phase II work. For more information on facility and personnel clearance procedures and requirements, please visit the Defense Security Service Web site at: International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) control is required. PHASE III: Improvements to SAL seeker signal processing can be incorporated into contemporary SAL seeker designs for missiles, rockets and bombs as new countermeasure technologies are fielded. Programs that would benefit from this technological innovation would include, but are not limited to, the following programs: HELLFIRE, Griffin, JAGM and small guided munitions with SAL seekers. Commercial use of these signal processing algorithms includes potential technology transfer applications for optical communications in noisy environments.
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