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Small Arms Fire Location for the Dismounted Marine




ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMM-113.5, Product Manager Optics and Non-Lethal Systems (ONS), MCPC 240111

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 section 5.4.c.(8) of the solicitation. 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 a system for locating the source of hostile small arms fire without the requirement for direct line of sight to the point of origin. The system shall consist of head, body, and/or hand-held components to provide real-time location data to a dismounted Marine during tactical movement. This topic addresses energy efficiency and operational costs by reducing the power and expense associated with fixed-site and vehicle mounted anti-sniper and counter-fire sensor systems.


DESCRIPTION: Acoustic gunshot detection systems utilizing microphone arrays are capable of establishing the approximate point of origin and trajectory of small arms fire, but are easily confused in multi-path reflection environments, including mountainous regions and urban canyons. The same mountainous and urban environments can constrain the use of line of sight based gunfire location techniques, such as muzzle flash detection, and “pre-shot” capabilities that actively search for optical augmentation retro-reflections from potential threats, providing little utility to other friendly forces not equipped with their own gunfire or pre-shot sensors. Active illumination pre-shot systems also have the potential to reveal friendly force locations to hostile forces equipped with imaging devices operating within the same wavelengths. Reference 1 provides additional details of these capabilities and their limitations. Dismounted Marines are currently equipped with various direct-view visible light and indirect-view image intensification and thermal imaging systems operating in infrared imaging bands. Under ideal viewing angle (parallel, but not perpendicular, to line of sight) and environmental conditions, some devices are capable of briefly perceiving small arms projectiles in flight, either directly or indirectly via their wake, but without sufficient detail to reliably track to the point of origin.

Prior research (see Ref 2) indicates that small arms projectiles in flight are strong emitters in infrared bands, particularly Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR). Dismounted Marines typically utilize uncooled Long-wave Infrared (LWIR) imagers, such as the AN/PAS-28 Medium Range Thermal Imager and AN/PAS-30 Mini Thermal Imager (see Ref 3 and 4), due to their low cost (less than $10,000), low power (less than three Watts), and near-instant start-up time, but these systems have only demonstrated reliable imaging of relatively large or slow projectiles, such as grenades. Handheld MWIR imagers are available in the USMC inventory, but their high cost (greater than $20,000) and cooling needs (up to eight Watts and greater as ambient temperature increases, cool-down times measured in minutes) are accepted for only the longest range (over 2,500 meter) imaging applications. The currently fielded AN/PAS-22 Long Range Thermal Imager (see Ref 5) is an MWIR device, but has a restricted field of view, low resolution, and insufficient imaging frame rate to resolve small, high speed projectiles perpendicular to observer.

This topic seeks to explore innovative approaches in the development of a man-portable, battery powered, small-arms fire location system that is handheld, head mounted, and/or body worn for use by an individual dismounted Marine observing from positions of protective cover during tactical movement and, ideally, while also on-the-move. Proposed concepts shall utilize thermal imaging technology to acquire, display, and extrapolate a partial small arms projectile (Russian caliber 5.45mm, US caliber 5.56mm and greater) track, passing at any angle within tactically relevant range (hundreds of meters) of the observer, to the point of origin. Accuracy of points of origin shall (threshold specification) have an average azimuth error of less than five degrees from the observer’s point of view, and an average range estimation error of less than 20%, during conditions of no-obstructing terrain between the source and observer. Accuracy should (objective specification) be less than two degrees average azimuth error, and less than 10% average range error. Thresholds are specifications that meet requirements; while objectives are specifications that exceed minimal requirements and are of a particular interest. Observed tracks shall be graphically distinguishable from extrapolated paths, and overlaid on actual, real-time, terrain scenery to assist observer orientation. Proposed concepts shall have a probability of detection of no less than 70%, day or night and commensurate with the threat weapon capabilities (ex., 500 meters for 5.45mm and 5.56mm caliber rifles; 2,000 meters for 12.7mm caliber heavy machine gun weapon systems). Proposed concepts should not utilize pre-mission terrain maps or other external mapping platforms. Concepts may, but are not required to, include additional electro-optical, acoustic, or other sensors to achieve accuracy requirements or cue other sensors with higher fidelity, but shall remain passive (no deliberate emissions) while in operation. The ability to refine accuracy through networked, open architecture, multi-user observations is desirable; however the system must meet requirements with a, passive, stand-alone capability. Concepts shall be capable of acquiring and temporarily storing (for at least fifteen minutes) the tracks of multiple weapons firing near-simultaneously, including those operating at a high rate of fire (up to 2,000 rounds per minute). For the purposes of Phase II demonstration, proposed sensor components (including sensor level analog to digital conversion and onboard calibration and image enhancement functions, but not including output capture and projectile track processing hardware) should consume a total of no more than eight Watts of power over an ambient operating temperature range of -40C to +49C. Collected imagery and track analysis should be presented within one minute of firing events (a burst of machine gun fire counts as one event). The goal for Phase III is for collected imagery and track analysis to be presented to the user within 5 seconds or less after firing events. The Phase III system and power supply capacity shall be sufficient for eight hours of continuous surveillance, including no less than 250 distinct firing events detected and correlated to point of origin. The weight of Phase III head-mounted, hand-held, and/or body-worn components (including batteries), shall not exceed 500 grams, two kilograms, and seven kilograms, respectively.


PHASE I: Develop concepts for an improved approach for locating the source of hostile, small-arms fire without the requirement for direct line of sight to the point of origin that is capable of meeting the requirements stated in the Description above. The company will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. As applicable, the company will conduct detailed analysis of relevant target sets, concepts of employment, and sensing schemes necessary to achieve the desired capability. Where feasible, and within the scope and resources of the Phase I effort, key technical concepts shall be demonstrated. The small business will also articulate a plan for Phase II development that identifies performance goals, key technical milestones, and, as appropriate, any technical risk reduction strategy(ies). The company shall also provide a draft Phase II test and evaluation plan identifying any required resources necessary to acquire data for Phase II prototype design refinement. The plan should include the gathering of live-fire data collection utilizing non-Government resources, should sufficient research literature not be available during Phase I.


PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II SOW, the small business will gather additional data, via live-fire observations, to refine the design and develop a prototype for evaluation. Access to Government furnished weapons, ammunition, and range facilities may be requested; however, the company shall provide a plan to conduct live-fire data collection utilizing non-Government resources (as part of the company’s Phase II prototype testing and evaluation). At the completion of the Phase II contract, the prototype developed shall have a minimum Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5, component and/or breadboard validation in a relevant environment, and demonstrate the ability to meet required capabilities, utilizing critical technology components, such as sensors, representative of Phase III concepts. In Phase II testing and evaluations, low risk technologies (such as image processing electronics) that can be optimally scaled physically and for power consumption with available and proven techniques, may be represented by commercial components (e.g. a tethered general purpose computer with high performance graphics processing units that can be replaced with an embedded field programmable gate array solution in Phase III). Test and evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements for a dismounted Marine platform solution. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The company will develop a self-contained and ruggedized solution and any respective components optimized for evaluation to determine its overall system effectiveness against realistic threats. The company will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use. As applicable, the company will prepare manufacturing plans and develop manufacturing capabilities to produce the product for military and commercial markets.


KEYWORDS: Hostile Fire Indication; Gunshot Detection; Shooter Location; Small Arms Localization; Projectile Tracking; Anti-Sniper

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