Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Multi-Spectral Illuminator
Navy SBIR 2015.1 - Topic N151-053
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - [email protected]
Opens: January 15, 2015 - Closes: February 25, 2015 6:00am ET

N151-053 TITLE: Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Multi-Spectral Illuminator

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS495, Mine Warfare Program Office, COBRA

OBJECTIVE: Develop a "Night Time" capability for Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) that will provide the necessary light source for the COBRA camera.

DESCRIPTION: The current COBRA sensor is only capable of daytime operation. The proposed effort will develop a light source which will allow for the use of multi-spectral imagers, such as those found in the COBRA system, during nighttime operations. To successfully get to this future system, the competing requirements of size, weight, power and thermal management will need to be overcome. This development effort will reduce costs for the COBRA program by continuing previous developmental efforts for an illumination source and by increasing availability to be used 24 hours a day which will reduce deployment time and overall operational costs.

Current electro-optic illuminators are single wavelength (band) sources that cannot illuminate the six band light spectrum required for the COBRA camera. Additionally, current single band illuminators that meet the derived size, weight, and power requirements for COBRA provide insufficient illumination power for the COBRA camera field of view. The innovation of the COBRA Multi-Spectral Illuminator will be to provide the broadband light that will provide sufficient illumination power for the COBRA camera to image mine lines and minefields at night.

The objective is to create a small form factor, light weight, low power, and medium repetition rate broadband illuminator that is robust enough to be integrated onto the Fire Scout MQ-8B (ref 1). Additionally, the illuminator would need to output the required light levels for a duration suitable for integration by the COBRA ( ref 3) camera, a Charge Coupled Device (CCD) ( ref 2), and with a relevant field of view. These competing requirements will need to be balanced to create an active light source. It will also need to match the solar illumination levels in each defined band (ref 4) for an equivalent of 5 Watts per square meter (W/m2), as measured on the ground with the sensor at 915 meters above ground level and a field of view of at least 2 by 2 degrees, across all bands.

Three illumination technologies– Red Green Blue/Infrared (RGB/IR) lasers, RGB/IR light emitting diodes, and small/lightweight strobe lighting, have been previously explored for potential multi-spectral illumination. However, none of these technologies are mature enough to meet the technical requirements for COBRA camera illumination without further technical development and innovation. However, any of these three technologies, as well as other approaches, could serve as the basis for meeting the objectives of this topic.

PHASE I: The small business will define and develop a concept for a COBRA Illuminator and assess the feasibility for COBRA insertion. The small business will demonstrate the feasibility of the COBRA Illuminator concept in meeting COBRA program needs, and will show that the concept can be developed into a useful product for the COBRA program capable of fitting within the Fire Scout size, weight and power constraints. Phase I awardees will be provided specific size, weight and power constraints for concept development.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I, the small business will develop a COBRA Illuminator prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated in conjunction with the COBRA camera to determine whether it can meet COBRA requirements for Night Time Detection Performance. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and ground test methods over the required range of landscapes and scenes. COBRA Illuminator evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into a design that will meet the COBRA program requirements for Night Time Detection with the COBRA system and illuminator fitting within the Fire Scout size, weight and power constraints. The small business will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will provide support in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The small business will integrate and retrofit existing COBRA Systems with the COBRA Illuminator, according to the Phase III development plan, for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. The company will complete Flight Demonstration and Environmental Qualification for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for COBRA program use. The company will also support updates to the COBRA Technical Data Package (TDP) to support the Navy in transitioning the design and technology into the COBRA Production baseline for future Navy use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: In addition to successfully transitioning multi-spectral illumination into the COBRA program, the technology can be multi-faceted for use in the private sector. Multi-spectral imaging capabilities and the associated illumination will be utilized to expand current terrestrial sensing to be operational 24 hours a day. The application includes farm and crop monitoring, geological mapping, terrestrial imaging, ocean sensing and research, as well as numerous law enforcement applications. Attention will be given to these multi-use applications as the program progresses to address potential commercial spin-off opportunities.

1. Holloway, John; Witherspoon, Ned; Miller, Richard; Davis, Kenn; Suiter, Harold; Hilton, Russell. "Navy/Marine Corps Innovative Science and Technology Developments for Future Enhanced Mine Detection Capabilities." 22 Aug 2000 (reference will be posted in SITIS).

2. Holst, Gerald. CCD Arrays Cameras and Displays. Winter Park, FL: JCD Publishing and SPIE Optical Engineering Press, 1996.

3. "The US Navy--Fact File: AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA)." 9 December 2013. Retrieved from:

4. "The US Navy--Fact File: RQ-8A and MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)." 18 February 2009. Retrieved from:

KEYWORDS: Broad Band Illumination; Multi-Spectral Imaging (MSI); Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA); Mine Countermeasures (MCM); Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR); Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) payload

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