Multispectral Target and Scene Projector

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-103
NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-103 TITLE: Multispectral Target and Scene Projector

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)


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 3.5 of 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: Design and develop a multispectral scene projector capable of presenting a scene to a gimbaled sensor under test.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Navy currently operates a number of legacy spectral scene generators to test a number of single and dual band sensors. The background comprises a Visible (VIS) band projected onto a blocking target that is opaque to all VIS wavelengths, prior to entering a collimating optic and presented to the gimbaled sensor. A number of blocking targets with various angular sizes exist on a filter wheel allowing the system to characterize sensor resolution.

A target beam, maintained at the center of the scene, represents the Mid-Wave Infrared (MWIR) signature of an air platform, generated by an IR source with an aperture to control angular extent and a variable Neutral Density (ND) filter to rapidly change intensity. These two collimated sources, the MWIR target and VIS background, are combined by an optic with the MWIR target aligned to the collimated blocked portion of the background. Finally, a pickoff mirror allows 90% of the combined beam to pass to the sensor under test, while reflecting 10% toward a camera used for scene awareness.

The scene projected and presented to the sensor under test is comprised of a collimated background of VIS light, a negative target of blocked VIS light with MWIR superimposed on the negative target.

This is a simplistic static system allowing for investigation of target resolution and sensor sensitivity. However, this system lacks the required dynamics of other targets in the scene, required for investigating tracking algorithms.

This SBIR topic is seeking to extend the technology of legacy generators by adding additional targets with the ability to move within the scene and change their spectral content. An example scene may comprise a mixture of Ultra-Violet (UV)/VIS intensities as a background; a static target that blocks the background but retains a signature with Long Wave Infrared (LWIR), MWIR, Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR), VIS, and UV components; and three other moving dynamic targets comprised of a mixture of LWIR, SWIR, MWIR, VIS, and UV emissions.

This system will evaluate a gimbaled sensor and the performance of tracking algorithms in a spectrally complex environment having dynamic targets with signatures comprised of LWIR, MWIR, SWIR, VIS, and UV bands, combined with an illuminated background emitting in the UV and/or VIS bands (Ref 5). This system should reside on one or two optical tables in which the scene is generated and allow for positioning the sensor under test.

The background presented to the sensor under test must provide an illuminated background emitting in the UV and/or VIS bands. The background represents the sky as seen by a sensor. The sensor under test will typically be banded, but that defined band may be anywhere from the UV to VIS portions of the spectrum. The intensity of the background should have a comparable intensity to that of the sky and be adjustable to simulate differing intensities, such as a sunny day, overcast, and heavy cloud cover; as well as time of day, such as morning, noon, and evening.

The bands described in this document are defined as follows:

  1. UV: 300-400 nm
  2. VIS: 400-700 nm
  3. SWIR: 1-3 Ám
  4. MWIR 3-5 Ám
  5. LWIR: 8-12 Ám

A single primary target source represents an air-platform in a scene as a spot, blocking the UV and VIS portions of the background as an aircraft traveling across the sky. However, while blocking the background, the Primary Target may be emitting in any of the UV, VIS, SWIR or MWIR, and LWIR bands and overlay on the blocked spot. The mixture of bands, angular extent, and intensities must be variable as a function of time to simulate platforms operating at different ranges at different headings.

The secondary targets represent other emitters in the spectrally rich scene such as other air-platforms, munitions, or countermeasures. These sources have variable intensities and emit in the UV, VIS, SWIR, MWIR, and LWIR bands. However, these sources do not block the UV and VIS emissions of the background. These sources must also have the ability to vary the mixture of LWIR, SWIR, MWIR, VIS, and UV emissions, intensities in each band, angular size, and following a pre-programmed trajectory, dynamically move in relation to the primary target. The projector should present three or four secondary targets.

There is a requirement to provide awareness of the scene presented to the sensor under test, in real time, as the scene develops. This imagery output is used to create a data product that overlays a sensor's gimbaled track-point on the scene as it develops. For more simplistic projectors involving only two adjacent bands, a beam splitter is used to capture a portion of the energy and present it to a camera. This is a more difficult problem since a single camera cannot capture the spectral data across the spectrum and will require multiple cameras, each with a fused spectral output. Just as in the legacy system, a camera(s) must capture and display the scene presented to the sensor under test.

Software is required to control the many elements of the scene projector and has two main functions. First is designing and planning the scene as it evolves in time, including the spectral content, intensities of the different bands, angular size, and motion of each source. The second function is the control of the optical components as the test occurs.

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) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor 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: Develop, design, and demonstrate the feasibility to build a scene projector, employing beam combining/mixing optics that have previously been built, combining two neighboring spectral bands such as MWIR and SWIR, and methods for controlling the motion in the scene, including moving combining mirrors and sending the image into a collimating optic. The Phase I demonstration will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype multispectral scene projector capable of presenting a scene to a gimbaled sensor under test. Provide schematic and layout of optics, emitters and other components. Develop a method for viewing the entire scene in all bands presented to the sensor. Develop a controlling Graphical User Interface (GUI) and identify variables. Demonstrating the multispectral projector is capable of giving similar results to more simplistic legacy system, while considering radiometric measurement of spectral components of the scene.

It is probable that the work under this effort, particularly in the sensor portion, will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Finalize the prototype and provide demonstration of the multispectral projector on an advanced sensor. Perform final testing and validation. Transition to applicable naval platforms and/or naval laboratories.

The multispectral scene generator will be suitable for testing hardware-in-the-loop systems incorporating multiple sensors across multiple EO/IR bands, such as missile seekers, ISR camera systems, and targeting systems. The scene projector will also provide a critical laboratory-based pathway for the development of EO/IR algorithms employing sensor fusion and the merging of information across multiple bands to achieve increased accuracy. Industries include Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Missile Defense.


  1. Jennison, P. J., Tritchew, S., Johnston, F., Demers, L. and Trottier, G. "The infra redtarget generator (IRTG)." Proceedings of SPIE 1110, Imaging infrared: scene simulation, modeling, and real image tracking, September 20, 1989.
  2. Pinsky, E. and Sturlesi, D. "Generation of dynamic IR scene for seekers testing." Proceedings of SPIE 3061, Infrared technology and applications XXIII, August 13, 1997
  3. Nelson, N. R., Bryant, P. T. and Sundberg, R. L. "Development of a hyperspectral scene generator." Proceedings of SPIE 5151, Earth observing systems VIII, November 10, 2003.
  4. Sturlesi, D. and Pinsky, E. "Target scene generator (TSG) for infrared seeker evaluation." Proceedings of SPIE 3084, Technologies for synthetic environments: hardware-in-the-loop testing II, July 15, 1997.
  5. Ashley, G. W., Jr., Buenting, E. O., Leonard, C. A. and Lessman, G. "Dual spectral range target tracking seeker. (U.S. Patent No. 4,009,393)." U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, 1977.

KEYWORDS: Scene Projector; Target Projector; Sensors; Spectral; Multispectral; Missile Seeker


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