The USA’s Missile Defense Advanced Technology Innovation (ATI) Program
In February 2009, the USA’s Missile Defense Agency instituted the Missile Defense Advanced Technology Innovation (ATI) Program to:
“…identify and develop innovative concepts, stimulate technology innovation, and exploit breakthroughs in science to offer robust technology improvements to all elements of the [missile defense system]… The MDA contracts with private industry, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations for research in those areas covered in this BAA… MDA does not have a specified amount of funding available for BAA awards, however, if MDA decides to pursue a concept the appropriate level of funding will be identified, and a final proposal will be requested by a MDA Contracting Officer in writing.”
That was pretty vague and non-committal, but it did lay out key research areas, and invite ideas. A February 2010 update to the solicitation has added some clarification around the involvement of “foreign persons.”
ATI’s Research Areas
ATI has 8 key research topic areas, covering all phases of missile defense. Except for one specific area around international cooperation, however, they’re looking for engineering/ R&D, not basic research:
# Radar Systems. Include but are not limited to Integrated System Concepts, Cross Sections and Signatures, Measurements (waveforms, data extraction), Transmit/Receive modules, Signal Processing, Data Visualization, Data Compression, Image Interpretation, and Passive RF Systems
# Lasers and Electro-Optical Systems. Include but are not limited to High Energy Lasers, Light Weight/Scalable Fiber, Solid State, Gas and Liquid Phase Lasers, Improved Diode Laser Arrays, Chemical Laser Improvements, High Energy Laser Power Supplies and Thermal Control Systems, Optical Beam Control and Stabilization Technologies, Large Light-weight, Space Qualifiable Optical Telescopes, Optical Beam Combining and Phased Array Concepts, Fast Beam Steering Concepts, Laser Target Acquisition, Pointing and Tracking Concepts, Light-weight LADAR Transmit/receive Subsystems including Light-weight, Efficient Laser Transmitters, Integrated LADAR Optical Systems, High Bandwidth Photon Counting Receiver Arrays and novel LADAR Signal Processing Concepts/algorithms.
# Integrated Active/Passive IR Sensor Systems. Include but are not limited to LADAR Transmit/Receive Systems, Optical Signal Processing, All Digital Signal Processing. Passive EO/IR Systems including ideas and concepts for IR materials and Focal Plane Arrays (FPAs) having the following desired features: large format size, multicolor capability, manufacturability, and affordable having the capability to extend VLWIR detection at temperatures higher than 35K, Read-Out electronics. In addition, Lightweight EO/IR kill vehicle sensors and seekers with high frame rate capability, Fast Readout Large Format FPAs for Hyper spectral imaging, Non-E/O sensors for post impact warhead typing (in-situ or standoff); Hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) testing of Multi-/Hyper-Spectral Sensors, HWIL testing of LADAR systems in a Thermally Controlled Vacuum Environment, test of ground, air, space, sea-based sensor system operations (all wavelengths considered).
# Computer Science, Signal and Data Processing. Include but are not limited to Digital Electronics and Signal Processing, Novel signal and guidance processing architectures for high frame rate seekers, Machine Implementation of Algorithms, Analog Circuits and Communications, Computer Vision, Distributed Computing, Decision Systems, Estimation, Prediction, Homing navigation, Data Fusion, Pattern Recognition, Identification, Discrimination, and Sensor Fusion.
# Physics, Chemistry, and Materials. Associated with missile Detection, Tracking, and Discrimination, Infrared and Optical Signatures, Energy Conversion, Rocket Plume Analysis, Spectral Imaging for Threat/Decoy Discrimination, and integration of conventional silicon technology with new nanostructures (i.e., carbon nano materials) for next generation interceptor sensors.
# Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Include but are not limited to Space Systems, Micro satellites to include: bus and payload designs, Precision Guidance, Navigation & Control (GNC); Target Tracking and Prediction; subsystems, and components-such as Precision Propulsion and Constellation Networking, Missile System Aerodynamics, high maneuverability Divert/Axial Propulsion, liquid and solid Divert and Attitude Control Systems (DACS), Reentry Physics, Guidance and Control, Kill vehicle Lethality Enhancement; Materials Science to include Lightweight, Thermo-Resistant Materials for Boosters and Kill Vehicles, Lightweight Structures with Embedded Radiation Shielding, also of interest are the Prediction, Quantification, and Compensation of Aero-Optic effects of turbulence on Imaging Sensors.
# Battle Management/Command and Control. Include but are not limited to Engagement Planning, Sensor and Weapon Resource Management, Tactics, Intelligence Exploitation, Evolving Threats and Countermeasures, Target Tracking; Human in the Loop (MDA Operations) Intelligence Processing and Decision Making in Near Real Time, Information Processing and Computing Technologies, Launch platform-Interceptor communications, Interceptor-Interceptor communications, Interceptor-launch platform communications, Aircraft mountable High Bandwidth Communications (T1 minimum; T3 or greater preferred) for line of sight and over the horizon (OTH) data transfer; Lethality Assessment Technologies, non-real-time, non-tactical (not kill assessment) test applications; Discrimination and Fire Control; and distributed real-time simulations using reconfigurable objects (all digital, hardware-in-loop or live).
# International BMDS Cooperation. Proposals for this area must contain direct work relating to a foreign company or university that is either a partner or major subcontract under the proposal. This is the only area that we MDA entertain accepting basic research proposals.
Feb 17/10: The Missile Defense Agency revises solicitation #HQ0147-09-ATI-BAA. One of the key changes involves clarification around “foreign persons,” which appears to offer slightly more flexibility while standardizing the process.
Under the previous H-15 clause, it said that “No foreign persons will be permitted to work on this contract without prior written approval of the Contracting Officer.” The revised clause, now H-27, requires advance notification of “any lawful U.S. permanent residents and foreign nationals you expect to be involved on this project as a direct employee, subcontractor or consultant.” It also requires certain documentation, and notes that the burden of compliance with ITAR weapons export laws remains on the contractor. See also Duke University Funding Opportunities.
Feb 25/09: The Missile Defense Agency issues solicitation #HQ0147-09-ATI-BAA. It’s says up front that the program has no specific budget, while soliciting industry ideas for Advanced Technology Development (ATD) research in ATI’s 8 research areas.