Wright-Patterson AFB Small Business Office
8/3/2015 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Critical
Air Force missions take place both day and night in locations around
the globe. In some cases, the use of high-performance munitions is
critical to mission success.
As a result, the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research / Small
Business Technology Transfer program office recently provided nearly
$400,000 of additional funding for a SBIR effort that will give the
warfighter an affordable, high-performance millimeter wave seeker
technology for high-performance munitions.
"MMW seekers are active radar seekers with the capability to both
transmit and receive information," said Thomas Lewis, an Air Force
Research Laboratory researcher involved in the project. "Because they
provide their own illumination, they can be used day or night.
Additionally, because of the wavelength they use, they allow us to see
through both clouds and rain."
Under this SBIR Phase II contract, L-3 Mustang Technology, located in
Plano, Texas, will integrate an automatic target acquisition and
tracking algorithm, intelligent target clustering and the capability to
support a deployment demonstration. By updating, testing and
demonstrating these capabilities, researchers hope to transition the
technology to the AFRL Munitions Directorate's advanced development Flex
The GBU-X (Flexible Weapons) program is a cross-directorate AFRL
initiative that seeks to mature key technologies that could enhance
current weapons or lead to a new family of weapons made up of flexible,
interchangeable, open system architecture components for
sixth-generation aircraft. It explores two primary areas of technology
research, including the development of open systems architecture with
common interfaces to facilitate rapid technology refresh and
configuration of the munition system to meet individual mission needs,
and cooperative engagement strategies using networked and selectable
effects munitions for increased robustness to countermeasures and
improved endgame performance over baseline inventory munitions. The
program is also examining supportability and affordability of a family
of GBU-X weapons.
"Developing a common architecture that enables modular subsystems to
achieve flexible weapons capability, while allowing us to refresh the
technologies at the pace of better, more affordable and sustainable
technologies as they are discovered and developed, is at the core of our
mission," said David Hayden, an AFRL researcher working on the project.
According to Hayden, the Air Force is interested in a mature automatic
target acquisition approach that allows the Guided Smart Seeker to enter
into closed-loop tracking without a human operator in the loop.
"One of the requirements we sought to meet was that the seeker possessed
the ability to acquire targets and begin tracking them without human
intervention," said Hayden. "Intelligent target clustering is a
capability that would give the seeker a more robust target tracking
capability and reject any false alarms."
This program leverages more than $400,000 in additional AFRL mission
funds. These funds will help ensure the Phase II project graduates to a
Phase III program that successfully transitions the technologies into
military or private sectors.
The Air Force SBIR and STTR programs are mission-oriented programs that
integrate the needs and requirements of the Air Force through research
and development topics that have military and commercial potential. The
SBIR program was established by Congress in 1982 to fund research and
development through small businesses of 500 or fewer employees. The STTR
program was established in 1992 to fund cooperative R&D projects
with small businesses and non-profit U.S. research institutions, such as
Since 2006, the Commercialization Readiness Program has directly linked
Air Force centers to AFRL technical points of contact to identify and
evaluate Air Force needs and innovative solutions. Its primary objective
is to accelerate the transition of SBIR/STTR-developed technologies
into real-world military and commercial applications.
The Air Force SBIR and STTR programs provide more than $300 million in
funding for research and development activities by small businesses
annually. With this budget, the Air Force funds research from the early
stages of concept development until it transitions to military or