Broadband Antenna Solution for Vehicle-Mounted Electronic Warfare Systems

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-003
MCSC - Marine Corps Systems Command
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-003 TITLE: Broadband Antenna Solution for Vehicle-Mounted Electronic Warfare Systems

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics; Networked C3

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 an innovative and operationally suitable consolidated (minimized size and weight) antenna solution for sensing and transmitting broadly across the electromagnetic spectrum with angular resolution sufficient for geo-location and direction finding.

DESCRIPTION: Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) provides vehicle-mounted Electronic Warfare Systems (EWS) for geo-locating, direction finding, and countering threats on the ground and in the air. In order for these systems to be maximally effective against the breadth of potential threats, they must be able to accurately sense and defeat a variety of complex threat signals across the electromagnetic spectrum at once.

With the emergence of ultra-wideband photonic receiver technology that can very rapidly process, de-conflict, and identify threats across the entire frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum, there comes a need for complimentary broadband antenna hardware to sense and locate threats and transmit to defeat them. Current antenna technologies are limited in frequency range and thus multiple antennae are required to cover very broad ranges, especially at the lower end of the frequency range. Current broadband antenna technologies also lack the precision in angle of arrival in azimuth and elevation critical to geo-locating and direction finding.

Requirements for the Broadband Antenna for the Photonic Receiver

  • Capable of operating in the frequency range from as near DC as possible to 20GHz (Threshold), 80+GHz (Objective).

  • Must be accurate in angle of arrival in order to support geo-location and direction finding. Preference is maximizing angle of arrival precision and accuracy in both azimuth and elevation, achieved with a threshold of no more than 4 antennae, with a preference that multiple antennae occupy the same physical space. Antennae that occupy the same physical space will be considered one antenna, even if they are electromagnetically multiple antennae. No single antenna should exceed a 1ft cube in size.)

  • Total weight must not exceed 50 lbs (T), 10 lbs (O).

  • Must receive and transmit across the entire frequency range (T), able to receive and transmit simultaneously at the same frequency (O).

  • Must have an elevation and azimuth instantaneous beam width of 45 field of view (T) when mounted on a vehicle platform. A 360 azimuth field of view is preferred but must be able to resolve to 45 sectors (T). Higher resolution is desirable.

  • Must have a flat gain response within each octave of less than 1dB gain (T), less than 0.5dB gain (O). Small regions of non-flatness (up to 3dB off the gain) are acceptable so long as they can be adequately characterized and assumed within the antenna pattern. A preference is provided to solutions with a gain response better than unity (0 dB) over the frequency range.

  • Water resistant as the antenna is intended to be used as part of a vehicle mounted expeditionary EWS.

  • Capable of functioning on the move.

  • Designed to meet MIL STD 810H, but testing of prototypes is not included in the scope of the Phase I or II research.

  • Must use standard radio frequency interfaces to easily integrate with PORs and the required frequency interfaces need to be defined in any proposal. A preference is provided to minimizing the number and type of interfaces needed to cover the entire frequency range.

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    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 DSS and MCSC 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 concepts for a broadband antenna that can be integrated with a photonic receiver and vehicle-mounted EWS, and that meets the requirements in the Description. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Establish feasibility through modeling and simulation. Provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals and key technical milestones, and that will address technical risk reduction and includes specification for a prototype.

    The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information.

    PHASE II: Develop a scaled prototype integrated with representative receiver(s) that cover the frequency range for evaluation purposes in an actual or simulated electromagnetic environment representative of the breadth, volume, and complexity of an operational electromagnetic environment. Evaluate the prototype to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for integration with an EWS as the front-end antenna. Demonstrate system performance through prototyping. Use evaluation results to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

    The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and the contractor will need to be prepared for personnel and facility certification for secure access (see note in Description section).

    PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. Develop the broadband antenna solution for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Support the Marine Corps for testing and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.

    As the communications industry grows and advances in capability exponentially, antenna technology remains an important enabler to maximize performance while minimizing cost and footprint. The developer of this broadband antenna could potentially market the solutions or products derived lessons learned to the communications industry.

    REFERENCES:

    1.       "2018 U.S. Marine Corps Science & Technology Strategic Plan." https://www.microwaves101.com/uploads/2018-USMC-S-and-T-Strategic-Plan.pdf

    2.       "Marine Corps Reference Publication 3-32D.1, Electronic Warfare." United States Marine Corps. Publication Control Number144 000246 00. 02 May 2016. https://www.marines.mil/Portals/1/Publications/MCRP%203-32D.1%20(Formerly%20MCWP%203-40.5).pdf?ver=2016-08-04-062544-020

    3.       "MCSC Modernizing Communication Gear to Enhance Electronic Warfare." The Official Website of the United States Marine Corps. https://www.marines.mil/News/News-Display/Article/2635688/mcsc-modernizing-communication-gear-to-enhance-electronic-warfare/

     

    KEYWORDS: Electronic Warfare; Broadband; Antenna; Geo-location; Direction Finding; Flat Gain Response

    TPOC-1: Alicia Owsiak

    Email: [email protected]

     

    TPOC-2: Bradford Crane 

    Email: [email protected]


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