Air Force picks University of Dayton for electro-optical and electronic warfare (EW) onboard sensors research

Dec. 1, 2022
The Proficient Research of Onboard Subsystems Technology (PROST) project will capitalize on commercially and government-developed sensor technologies.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio – U.S. Air Force researchers needed electro-optical, hyperspectral, RF, and electronic warfare (EW) subsystems for onboard sensing. They found their solution from the University of Dayton Research Institute in Dayton, Ohio.

Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, have chosen University of Dayton for the Proficient Research of Onboard Subsystems Technology (PROST) project, which will capitalize on commercially and government-developed sensors, under terms of an $8 million six-year contract.

University of Dayton will conduct research and development of on-board sensor subsystems to combine heterogeneous devices such as central processing units (CPUs), graphics processing units (GPUs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and artificial intelligence (AI) accelerators with open-system sensor architectures.

Research will include compression techniques for several sensor types including visible-light cameras, infrared sensors, radar, and RF jammers.

Related: Northrop Grumman to install electronic warfare (EW) and electro-optical missile-defense on P-8A jets

Researchers will test and evaluate using laboratory and field testing, which will lead to device characterization and performance metrics for comparison to current capabilities, Air Force officials say.

As operating environments become more contested and congested, aircraft survivability relies on the ability to sense the environment quickly, process the data on the edge, and react to the gathered information, researchers explain.

Meanwhile, sensor technology has improved to capture more data from the environment, and military has a critical need to exploit this additional information. Data compression is equally important to transmit the data for additional processing and forensic analysis.

Related: The sensor- and signal-processing challenges of electronic warfare

Air Force researchers are asking University of Dayton to develop unique capabilities in edge processing and data compression to meet future and emerging military needs.

University of Dayton will investigate onboard sensor processing using all-weather radar for persistent surveillance across permissive, contested, and highly contested environments by using active, passive, and distributed sensing for onboard subsystems, data compression, and onboard sensor fusion.

University of Dayton also will investigate onboard sensor processing using sensor technology throughout the optical to infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Researchers also will look into onboard sensor processing using resilient, adaptive multi-spectrum warfare technologies and techniques to ensure unrestricted access to the airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum in contested and congested environments.

Related: Harris eyes spectrum warfare technologies blending electronic warfare (EW) and optical warfare

Research will involve electro-optical countermeasures and counter-countermeasures, RF electronic support, RF electronic attack, and RF electronic protection, position, navigation, and timing (PNT), avionics assurance, compression techniques for onboard subsystems, and onboard sensor fusion.

Researchers also will look into autonomous techniques to develop biological-inspired neuromorphic systems to increase performance while decreasing the size, weight, and power consumption for sensor subsystems and emerging artificial intelligence technologies.

On this contract, University of Dayton will do the work in Dayton, Ohio, and should be finished by January 2028. For more information contact the University of Dayton Research Institute online at, or the Air Force Research Lab at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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