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Precision Direct Attack Munition (PDAM)
On-target Weapon, Long-range (OWL)
Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement (AMSTE)

The purpose of the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement (AMSTE) program is to develop a system that locates and tracks a ground target moving at up to 50 m.p.h. and destroy it with an affordable precision weapon. This technology makes it possible for commanders to conduct multiple, near simultaneous, stand-off precision engagements of even the most mobile targets in all weather.

The program is sponsored by the DARPA Special Projects Office (SPO) and the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate, Information and Intelligence Exploitation Division. The overall objective of the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement program is to develop, integrate and demonstrate system technologies required for the precision engagement of moving surface threats from long range, to maintain positive track on these targets and to rapidly engage these moving targets with stand-off weapons.

Moving ground targets pose a significant challenge to current weapon systems because of the dynamics involved. Idle vehicles can accelerate to speeds of 60 miles per hour in less than 10 seconds - and stop in shorter periods of time. While typical military vehicles do not tend to accelerate or stop that fast, they still pose a significant challenge maintaining accurate tracks. Vehicles also tend to mix with other vehicles, travel within groups or convoys, start and stop often, and use terrain to block their detection.

Key characteristics of the operational AMSTE system include: all-weather engagement; rapid, high-confidence targeting; and precision engagement. An all-weather engagement capability requires a radar solution, nominally a fusion of ground moving target indication (GMTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes. AMSTE targeting requires the ability to maintain threat track from initial target nomination through engagement. This implies robust extended-duration tracking approaches, perhaps using signature aided tracking techniques to disambiguate movers and maintain combat identification. Improved Battle Management Command, Control, and Communications (BM/C3) techniques and processes are required to coordinate and control the multiple elements needed to prosecute moving targets in a dynamic environment. This encompasses the algorithms and logic required to advance a target through the kill chain seamlessly, without creating an unrealistic operator workload.

On 08 January 2001 the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate awarded two contracts, totaling more than $23.3 million, for research in support of the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement II (AMSTE II) program. The directorate is serving as agent for the program, spon-sored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Competing contracts were awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. of Melbourne, Fla., ($12,192,544) and Raytheon Co. of El Segundo, Calif., ($11,169,729). The two contractors will be doing development and integration of technologies in support of experiments to be performed at the Eglin Air Force Base Test Range, Florida, and the Nellis Air Force Base Test Range in Nevada. In mid-2001, the teams submitted proposals for the follow-on AMSTE program, a more in-depth development of the system. A single contract was planned to be awarded at the end of 2001.

ORINCON Corporation International (OCI) supplied the critical precision tracking and data fusion technology to both the Raytheon and Northrop Grumman teams. For the Raytheon team, the OCI Precision Strike Tracking software fused data in real time from a U-2, Global Hawk radar (on an A-3), and Sandia's developed low-cost GMTI radar, enabling a modified Maverick launched from an F-16 to vector to a moving target. For the Northrop Grumman team, the Precision Strike Tracking software fused data from Joint-STARS and Joint Strike Fighter prototype radars, directing a Precision Direct Attack Munition (PDAM) launched from an F-16 to a direct hit of the moving target.

In August 2001, a Northrop Grumman team successfully demonstrated the capability to precisely engage a moving target with a seeker-less weapon. The test, conducted in overcast conditions at Eglin AFB, FL, scored a direct hit through the top center of a moving vehicle on the first try. Key to this success was the system performance afforded by the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), which provided continuous in-flight target updates to a Lockheed Martin seeker-less weapon. Updates were based on advanced fusion tracking of precise ground moving target indicator radar data from Joint STARS and the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter team radar sensor mounted on the Northrop Grumman flight test aircraft. This system-of-systems will be further enhanced in the next phase by adding the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle system to the intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance mix.

On 19 September 2001 the Northrop Grumman team was selected to demonstrate the next phase of the AMSTE program. The Northrop Grumman team included Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control of Orlando, Fla., which provides the weapon and precision navigation capability; Orincon, San Diego, CA, brings precision fire control target-tracking capabilities to the Integrated Systems AMSTE team. Alphatech, Burlington, MA; Mission Research Corporation, Dayton, OH; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, provide technology used in long-duration target tracking. Neural Computing Systems, LLC, Irvine, CA, will develop a scattering -based computer-aided tomography approach to target modeling and discrimination using high-range resolution and synthetic aperture radar data. Northrop Grumman's Information Technology sector, Herndon, VA., provides information technology systems to the team and Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems, Baltimore, provides the JSF surrogate radar.

The Northrop Grumman AMSTE solution complements the Air Force's Concept of Operations for the Time Critical Targeting (TCT) Cell. The TCT Cell is designed to automate and integrate the kill chain process against targets that, to a large extent, are "time critical" because of their movement. The AMSTE solution provides a commander with many of the capabilities needed to operate like a weapon system against these targets by addressing the critical engagement period that extends from target nomination through weapon impact. Specifically, AMSTE provides the TCT Cell with the ability to ensure that the moving targets it nominates will be precisely targeted. Additionally, AMSTE makes it possible for these movers to be targeted from a standoff distance, in all weather conditions, and while using low-cost weapons. With the addition of AMSTE, joint forces will possess the capability to defeat anti-access threats and make the "halt phase" an ideal means for defeating aggression quickly at minimum risk for US personnel.

Precision engagement implies netted sensors and weapons to provide selectivity in engagement and end-game accuracy. Netted sensors are also critical for high confidence, long duration target tracking. Incorporation of the weapon into the engagement net implies a weapon concept that uses fire-control aim-point updates from the sensor network during its fly-out to achieve desired engagement accuracies against a maneuvering target. Improving end-game accuracy will maximize lethality and minimize collateral damage. Operation at long range with standoff weapons is required for system survivability.

The technologies needed to implement an AMSTE GMTI fire control system have matured to the point where they are ready to be integrated into an experimental system. These technologies, noted later, require integration at both the subsystem and system levels; i.e., platform integration and networking, to implement a system capable of field experimentation. AMSTE II will develop such an AMSTE system capability and will perform basic field-testing and experimentation across a range of scenario conditions with this system.

Two key elements recognized during the course of AMSTE I as requiring significant research and development were signature-aided tracking, which is needed for long duration, high confidence tracking, and advanced BM/C3, which is needed to match action/decision cycles with the dynamics of moving target engagement.

The purpose of the AMSTE II Program Research and Development Announcement (PRDA) is to develop and integrate the system technologies into an experimental system that will be used to demonstrate the feasibility and potential of the AMSTE concept. AMSTE II is focused on the development of an advanced AMSTE capability and the employment of this capability in a series of increasing realistic system experiments. The AMSTE system experiments will assess and demonstrate the value and tactical potential of a robust AMSTE system, identify the technological advances that offer the highest payoff and explore the critical technical issues associated with real-time precision fire control and high-confidence engagement-quality tracking.

While there may be multiple approaches to solving the AMSTE problem, there is a set of common challenges that must be addressed by any AMSTE solution. These include: multi-sensor and weapon grid-locking and geo-registration, association, target tracking and estimation using multiple sensors of varying metric accuracy, update rates, viewing angles, and data links. Innovative techniques are sought which exploit all potentially available sensor and situational information including terrain-aided and target feature-aided techniques. Additionally, the contractor is to develop the algorithms to perform automated sensor, communications, and weapons control as part of the AMSTE II program. Data from field and other testing should, therefore, also support tracking and targeting algorithm development and sensor mode development. Especially sought are innovative system solutions to the AMSTE problem, which are robust to natural interference sources and enemy countermeasures, and represent a clear advancement to the state-of-the-art in terms of both performance and cost.

AMSTE II will emphasize the use of emerging sensor, weapon and platform technologies with modest or minimal requirements for AMSTE-specific modifications or upgrades. This implies the use of test bed sensors, weapons, communication, and low cost seekers representative of systems that are expected to be in the later stages of development by 2007. AMSTE will exploit recent advances in the state of the art, including high-range-resolution GMTI, highly accurate Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) navigation and weapon guidance, and highly capable, low-cost computers, to achieve improvements in engagement precision without requiring concomitant investment in sensor or seeker capabilities. No new platforms or weapons are desired, and the sensor net is expected to be implemented as a specialized use of existing communications systems such as JTIDS/Link 16.

The yearly AMSTE II experiments are defined by the following themes:

FY01 - Airborne experimentation demonstrating precision fire control and weapon delivery with limited target association challenges (Part I of PRDA).

FY02 - Airborne experimentation demonstrating integrated high-reliability track maintenance and precision fire control (Part II of PRDA).

FY03 - End-to-end field demonstration of AMSTE engagement capabilities (planned - not part of the AMSTE II PRDA).

These experiments and demonstrations will provide a series of increasingly challenging scenarios for moving target engagement. The principal focus of the first year's experimentation is on exploring the issues of precision fire control and accurate weapon delivery against moving and stopped targets and will culminate in an actual guided weapon delivery against a GFE target. The second year's experiments will increase the complexity and density of the vehicle motion, and will require the contractor to begin the engagement earlier in the kill chain. The system will be expected to accept a target nomination of a specific target, track the target for an extended period of time without losing track or confusing its ID with that of another moving or stopped vehicle, and transition this target into end-game fire control. The principal focus of this second year is on expanding the portion of the kill chain being addressed by the AMSTE II experimental system, and exploring the issues with long duration, high confidence target tracking and the impact of mis-associations on end-game accuracy. The first two years of experiments will be highly scripted so that sensor and weapon platforms can be pre-positioned in appropriate orbits, modes correctly set, and sensor, communications, weapons, tracking algorithms are correctly initialized. The third year of experimentation, which is planned but is not part of this PRDA, is expected to be unscripted, where the contractor is expected to demonstrate an end-to-end AMSTE capability in a military exercise-like scenario. This experiment would therefore stress the need for automation in sensor mode control, multi-sensor communications, weapon delivery platform control, and weapon data links. It is expected that each experiment will include live weapons drop(s) on moving targets.

The FY01 and FY02 experiments provide an opportunity to exercise the AMSTE II capability in a government-defined, realistic field environment. These experiments are intended to validate and extend prior performance analysis. It is expected that program participants will conduct analyses, simulations, and range tests in preparation for these experiments. In addition, the contractor may perform additional field-testing, laboratory testing and simulation to evaluate alternate AMSTE approaches and/or to evaluate the capability in a wider range of environments or conditions. These experiments will also provide the contractor the opportunity to collect data for ongoing and future technology development required for the next year's experiments.

Due to the diverse nature of the technologies and activities involved in AMSTE II (platforms, sensors, data links, tracking algorithms, weapons, BMC3, system integration, flight testing, etc) the government encourages the use of contractor teams to integrate best-in-class capabilities into an AMSTE solution.

The goal of the AMSTE II PRDA is to establish technologies to allow rapid, high confidence, selective targeting and precision engagement of moving surface targets in all weather. The numeric goal for weapon delivery accuracy is 10 meters, independent of the operation of any end-game seeker. For systems that employ a seeker, the numeric goal is 3 meters. The numeric goal for high-confidence targeting is to correctly maintain track of a set of targets, without losing their identification, for a period in excess of 20 minutes. This should be accomplished in varying levels of scenario complexity, including cases for which kinematics alone is insufficient to resolve targets, and cases that involve move-stop cycles. While there is no simple metric that defines the quality of the end-to-end system, it is expected that the contractor will demonstrate a system that can seamlessly transition through the steps in an engagement, from target nomination through weapon on target, without significant operator workload.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:50:14 ZULU