Intelligent Assistant for Anti-Submarine Warfare

Navy SBIR 21.1 - Topic N211-073
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 14, 2021 - Closes: February 24, 2021 March 4, 2021 (12:00pm est)

N211-073 TITLE: Intelligent Assistant for Anti-Submarine Warfare

RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): Machine Learning/AI

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace Environments

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 an intelligent assistant that improves active sonar detection, classification, and tracking and enables operators to maximize the potential of the tactical sonar suite.

DESCRIPTION: Navy Cruisers and Destroyers engaged in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) often use active sonar to perform detection, classification, and localization (DCL) of submerged threats. Active sonar employment involves numerous operational modes and settings that enable operators to adapt the sonar suite to the environment and current tactical goals or operational posture. This includes employment decisions such as changing the operational mode between pulsed active sonar (PAS) and continuous active sonar (CAS) as well as changing waveform and various other system settings. Operators must conduct sonar analysis of resulting sonar returns and interpret them based on the sonar settings and the environment.

Intelligent assistants are now commonplace in commercial industry but cannot be used in Navy systems. Similar tools do not exist to support operators of the tactical sonar suite. Effective employment of the sonar suite and analysis of the information it presents in complex and changing conditions creates a significant cognitive demand for operators. The Navy seeks to develop an intelligent assistant through leveraging advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to support operators in this complex decision-making process.

An innovative intelligent assistant utilizing AI would bring together environmental information from the on-board tactical decision aid (TDA), in-situ, real-time assessment of the environment, and machine-learning algorithms to provide operators situational awareness regarding key parameters such as primary propagation path(s), bearing-dependent complications (such as sea mounts that might obscure threats), significant topology features into which a threat might retreat to minimize detection, best tactical waveforms, and situational best practices to enable operators to maximize the potential of the tactical sonar suite for the specific conditions present at that time and location. This assistant would have a significant analysis component, but would also have a direct interface with the operator through additional display elements and/or updates to existing display elements. In addition to realizing performance gains of at least 25% on active sonar detection, active sonar classification, active sonar tracking and end-to-end metrics relative to naïve employment of the system, this will enhance affordability by reducing the training time needed to realize a given level of operational performance. The technology developed will be tested using the IWS 5.0 Advanced Capability Build (ACB) step testing process. The seminal transition event will be validation by the Government and show the technology performs as required.

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 and/or subcontractor 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 intelligent assistant utilizing AI that meets the requirements in the Description section. Show feasibility of the concept through analytical modeling, and developing and documenting the innovative algorithms, concepts, and architectures, and quantifying achievable performance gains. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial system specifications and a capabilities description to build a prototype in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype intelligent assistant utilizing AI meeting the requirements in the Description for ASW. Demonstrate the prototype performance through the required range of parameters given in the Description. If needed, coordination with the Government will occur to conduct testing at a Government- or company-provided facility to validate the prototype’s capabilities. Data sets from Cruise/Destroyer Hull Sonar and/or Littoral Combat Ship Variable Depth Sonar (LCS-VDS) will be used to validate the prototype’s capabilities. The Government will provide the data.

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 ASW. Demonstrate and report on performance during laboratory testing. The prototype will be integrated into the IWS 5.0 surface ship ASW combat system Advanced Capability Build (ACB) program used to update the AN/SQQ-89 Program of Record.

This technology can be used in the weather and marine industries where automated assistants help identify tasks to be accomplished at certain timing.


  1. "Anti-Submarine Warfare: Concepts of Operations for the 21st Century." TASK FORCE ASW, Navy Communications, 2017, pp. 1-5.
  2. D’Amico, Angela and Pittenger, Richard. "A Brief History of Active Sonar." Aquatic Mammals, 2009.
  3. Serban, Floarea, et al. "A survey of intelligent assistants for data analysis." ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR), 45.3, 2013, p. 31.
  4. Borras, Joan; Moreno, Antonio and Valls, Aida. "Intelligent tourism recommender systems: A survey." Expert Systems with Applications, 41.16, 2014, pp. 7370-7389.
  5. "AN/SQQ-89(V) Undersea Warfare / Anti-Submarine Warfare Combat System." United States Navy Fact File, 15 January 2019.

KEYWORDS: Intelligent Assistant; Anti-Submarine Warfare; ASW; Active Sonar Detection; Active Sonar Tracking; Sonar Employment; Sonar Analysis

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