Electronic Warfare Human Machine Interface Training

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-058
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-058 TITLE: Electronic Warfare Human Machine Interface Training

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: 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 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 a game-based, dynamic Electronic Support Measures (ESM) training prototype utilizing TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 automation, displays and capabilities to include realistic scenarios and environmental factors enabling stress-habituation.

DESCRIPTION: The operation of modern submarines is complex and requires continuous training to learn how to effectively operate the warfighting systems. The current trend is to extend classroom training with advanced training techniques through the Navy’s "Sailor 2025" program. This program describes the urgent need for Ready, Relevant Learning (RRL) to ensure that sailors have the warfighting skills they need. RRL requires a reconstruction of training techniques, adaptability of training location (i.e., standalone systems, classroom-based workstations, or cloud-based programs), a learning continuum (to ensure skill acquisition, mastery and maintenance), and requires that training products take advantage of the latest in learning technology (i.e., serious games and YouTube-like videos). The focus of this SBIR topic is discovering the best combination of cognitive experiences and computer-guided gamification learning techniques. Coupled with existing combat system simulation systems, the trainer will use cognitive training techniques to teach sailors how to effectively learn and operate advanced Electronic Support Measures (ESM) systems quickly and accurately. This SBIR effort is about connecting with each individual and coaching them to reach their highest potential using advanced training capabilities.

PMS-435 seeks to develop an engaging, multi-modal, performance-based ESM trainer that addresses the Navy’s vital need for RRL by amending the deficiencies of the current AN/BLQ-10 Computer-Based Training (CBT) as well as the lack of commercially available software to adapt to such a need by utilizing the automation and advanced displays associated with the TI-20 upgrade to the AN/BLQ-10 system. This SBIR topic seeks development of innovative training techniques and their integration with a performance-based navigation engine. The state-of-the-art trainer shall utilize an innovative training engine that calculates in-situ proficiency measurements, which provide unique learning paths through the material. The training engine will be implemented with three additional innovation areas to develop a unique trainer that accelerates learning and improves performance. The following areas of innovation are to be addressed by this trainer:

  1. Dynamic Training Scenarios: The current AN/BLQ-10 CBT uses a pre-defined calibrated set of scenarios to measure performance and drive navigation. Continued use of CBT indicates that sailors become accustomed to the existing scenarios, therefore diminishing its effectiveness. The solution involves the development of a dynamic scenario generator that enables endless variances of scenarios and ensures a unique training experience each time the CBT is used. This innovative generator will incorporate traditional navigation methods with innovative techniques that allow scenarios to fit into the robust algorithms as they are made.
  2. Gamification: Develop software that leverages game-based learning for its innovative training solution. Game-based learning, or gamification, is a novel teaching approach that utilizes certain gaming principles (i.e., badges, points, and leaderboards) and applies them to training practices. Studies show that gamification increases user engagement and keeps trainees in the zone of engaged development – improving skill acquisition and retention, while maintaining an exciting and entertaining game. This shall be accomplished by implementing an engaging, game-like environment with multi-modal, robust training methodology. The gamification approach shall follow extensive research on this topic in commercial gaming.
  3. Stress-habituation: Sailor stress elicits physiological and emotional responses that diminish warfighting decision-making performance. Presently, the sailor is trained to read and analyze various electromagnetic warfare (EW) phenomena to make tactical decisions but does not learn how to operate under severe stress. The proposed trainer shall institute modalities that habituate sailor stress during the training cycle to utilize the brain’s experience-dependent neuroplasticity. This refers to the brain’s capacity to change in response to experience, repeated stimuli, environmental cues, and learning. The training solution will expose the sailor to stressful stimuli such that the brain adapts and becomes more tolerant of and less reactive toward stress, consequently preparing them for warfighting experiences.

The core of this SBIR research effort is to determine how to accelerate learning and improve stress-related responses using psychological methodologies to fulfill the Navy’s need for RRL. The results will provide metrics for determining the level of each trainee’s improvement during a training session, and these metrics will be logged over time. The pursued innovation will provide each trainee the ability to improve his/her training efficiency and learning retention as well as enhance their actual performance. By addressing the foundational skills at a deep level in which the sailor can act nearly instinctively in their role, the Navy will have expanded capabilities and create an advantage that empowers the fighting force with expertise in their actions and supports fielding a precision team. This is to be accomplished by developing a training solution based on the following parameters:

  1. Define and develop a hardware and software architecture trainer concept that would connect to the submarine TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 system,
  2. Define metrics for measuring stress and determine how to implement stress factors into the trainer,
  3. Develop methods to implement and utilize dynamic scenarios, and
  4. Produce a conceptual design of a game-based, dynamic, performance-based trainer and model key components such as TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 interface display, operator performance, stress metrics, and course content.

The innovative training solution shall maximize learning and gaining proficiency through easily accessible learning and training platforms. This trainer would ideally be viewed through various learning platforms, such as the Moodle Learning Management System, the Multifunctional Instructional Trainer (MIT) and/or the Submarine On Board Training (SOBT). Integration onto these platforms will enable the use of multiple, concurrent training sessions and ensure the widespread use of the trainer.

Initial testing of this trainer can be accomplished at the company site, where TI-20 automation and advanced display capabilities shall be applied in a performance-based training environment. This testing will be conducted by the developer with Government representatives. Final testing and certification will occur at the prime system integrator site and will be conducted by Government representatives in collaboration with Naval submarine force active-duty operators.

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), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). 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 contract as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA 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 advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for an improved ESM trainer that incorporates dynamic scenarios, gamification, and stress habituation for inclusion as part of the TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 system per the requirements in the Description. Demonstrate the feasibly of the concept to meet the described parameters listed in the Description through modeling, simulation, and analysis. 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: Using results from Phase I, develop, validate, and deliver the prototype for an improved ESM trainer that establishes modalities to acclimatize sailor stress. The operator interface will emulate and directly interact with the TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 operator machine interface. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters. Develop and demonstrate a dynamic scenario environment via the generation of multiple scenario variances. Develop and demonstrate an engaging, game-based training environment that mirrors TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 displays. Develop and demonstrate environmental factors that take advantage of experience-dependent neuroplasticity and habituate stress. Implement and test the dynamic, game-based training prototype. The field test data collection should demonstrate that operators have an improved resilience and reaction to stress-inducing environments as well as demonstrate skill level improvements in comparison to operators that use traditional TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 training methods.

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: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use in which the final product delivered to the Navy will be an improved ESM trainer that incorporates dynamic scenarios, gamification, and stress habituation to increase operator skill and proficiency in employing the TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 system in a variety of operating environments. This trainer will be incorporated into the TI-20 update to the AN/BLQ-10 system on designated submarines. Work with the associated Integrated Product Team (IPT) and provide hardware and/or software to the system prime contractor for inclusion and integration. The improved ESM trainer performance will be evaluated as part of the overall TI-20 AN/BLQ-10 system testing and evaluation.

Dual use potential exists for any field where operator performance is or could be tracked and developed using CBT. Examples of potential applications include:

  1. Operator response to system failures in power generation or manufacturing plants, ensuring systems are placed in a safe condition for subsequent troubleshooting and repair.
  2. Operator response to vehicle and/or control system failures in transit systems, such as air traffic control, railway signaling, and subway signaling.
  3. Operator response to system failures in commercial shipping vessels.


  1. Wemm, Stephanie E., and Wulfert, Edelgard. "Effects of Acute Stress on Decision Making." Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, vol. 42, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1–12., doi:10.1007/s10484-016-9347-8, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5346059/.
  2. Porcelli, Anthony J, and Delgado, Mauricio R. "Stress and Decision Making: Effects on Valuation, Learning, and Risk-Taking." Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, vol. 14, 2017, pp. 33–39., doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.11.015,
  3. Dicheva, Darina. "Gamification in Education: A Systematic Mapping Study." Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 18, no. 3, 1 July 2015, pp. 75–88. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/jeductechsoci.18.3.75?refreqid=search-gateway:99da2592a1aba73429161d0e017cb0e6.
  4. Davidson, Richard J, and Mcewen, Bruce S. "Social Influences on Neuroplasticity: Stress and Interventions to Promote Well-Being." Nature Neuroscience, vol. 15, no. 5, 2012, pp. 689–695., doi:10.1038/nn.3093.

KEYWORDS: Electronic Support Measures; Game-Based Training; Gamification; Experience-Based Neuroplasticity; Electronic Warfare; Sailor 2025


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

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