Development of Predictive Aero-Optical Models of the Hypersonic Environment

Navy SBIR 21.2 - Topic N212-136
SSP - Strategic Systems Programs
Opens: May 19, 2021 - Closes: June 17, 2021 (12:00pm edt)

N212-136 TITLE: Development of Predictive Aero-Optical Models of the Hypersonic Environment

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Hypersonics;Space

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments;Information Systems;Weapons

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: Develop predictive aero-optical models for the hypersonic environment.

DESCRIPTION: Optical sensors operating in hypersonic vehicles are subject to environments which distort the images and light such sensors seek to capture. Three main categories of distortions exist:

  1. Unsteady distortions, such as turbulence, that lead to random image blur
  2. Steady distortions, such as shock waves, that lead to systematic image tilts
  3. Background radiation/optical emission that can degrade the signal to noise ratio

Each of these image distortions represents a risk for developing a hypersonic imaging system that must be reduced with validated predictive models and experiments. This work will develop such validated predicted models.

The outcomes of the proposed work are:

  1. Databases that contain aero-optical environmental characteristics predicted for an entire flight trajectory.
  2. Predictive models which can be applied to specific hypersonic vehicles

The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. The Phase II effort will require secure access. SSP will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access.

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 Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and SSP 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 a model for a range of unclassified hypersonic environmental conditions, including Mach number, altitude, and vehicle angle of attack. Characterize the aerodynamics of the vehicle wake and conduct aero-optical analysis of light passing through the wake. Aero-optical experiments, such as wind-tunnel tests, will also be conducted to validate models against experimental data. Models will be further validated against existing literature. Focus on the environment surrounding the wake of a hypersonic vehicle. Characterize unsteady effects, such as turbulence, steady effects, such as systematic optical deflection through fluid boundary layers, and identify the spectral wavelengths and absolute power of background photon emission. Validate models with wind-tunnel testing experiments.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Leverage the models developed during Phase I for application to classified trajectory points of interest. Aerodynamic analysis of the wake in the classified environment will be conducted, as will optical analysis of light passing through this wake. The radiative effects of the classified hypersonic environment will be considered. The vehicle sensor window will also be analyzed using parametric studies to provide further data on potential optical aberrations. The product of this work will consist of databases that contain aero-optical environmental characteristics predicted for the entire flight trajectory.

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

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Utilize the developed models for application in classified points of interest and trajectories. The verified models will be provided to the national community for use in optic sensor development. Work with the Government to transition this database that contains aero-optical environmental characteristics predicted for the entire flight trajectory. The defense industry with focuses on SLBM, ICBMs, etc. will benefit from this technology as they consider unconventional navigation approaches. Also, future commercial hypersonic vehicle developers will has interest in utilizing these models for development of their products.


  1. Boyd, Iain andMackey, Lauren. "Assessment of Hypersonic Flow Physics on Aero-Optics." AIAAJ Aeronautics September 2019, Volume 57, Number 9.
  2. Smits, Alexander and Wyckham, Christopher. "Aero-Optic Distortion in Transonic and Hypersonic Turbulent Boundary Layers." AIAAJ Aeronautics, September 2009, Volume 47, Number 9.
  3. Wang, Meng; Mani, Ali and Gordeyev, Stanislav. " Physics and Computation of Aero-Optics." Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, January 2012, Volume 44, p. 299-321.

KEYWORDS: Conventional Prompt Strike; Aero-Optics; hypersonic environments; optical distortion; background radiation; predictive models; optical sensors


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 21.2 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

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