Military seeks to blend aircraft and sensors to keep air superiority in dangerous airspace

ARLINGTON, Va., 8 May 2014. U.S. military researchers are asking industry for ideas on maintaining air superiority in dangerous airspace where pilots risk having their sensors and communications jammed or their aircraft shot down.

Blending planes and sensors for air superiority
Blending planes and sensors for air superiority
ARLINGTON, Va., 8 May 2014. U.S. military researchers are asking industry for ideas on maintaining air superiority in dangerous airspace where pilots risk having their sensors and communications jammed or their aircraft shot down.

Officials of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., have issued a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-14-40) for the System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE) program.

The SoSITE initiative seeks to show that a system-of-systems (SoS) approach can help maintain U.S. air superiority in contested airspace with high risk of enemy electronic jamming, enemy fighters, and surface-to-air missiles.

Specifically, this program initially seeks to develop architectures for distributing functionality across networks of manned and unmanned aircraft for future experimentation, and to develop tools to enable this distribution to be done quickly and reliably.

Related: DARPA releases solicitation for DBM program to plan air battles with limited communications

U.S. aircraft have enjoyed air supremacy in most areas of the world for a long time, but this era is coming to an end quickly, DARPA researchers say. Potential enemies have ready access to advanced technologies and can convert them to new military capabilities more quickly than the Pentagon can develop advanced weapons.

To help solve this program, SoSITE will develop ways to integrate new U.S. technologies as they are developed to enable the military to remain ahead of the world in fielded capabilities.

The SoSITE BAA project encompasses the integration of aircraft, weapons, sensors, and mission systems via the SoSITE open-systems architecture (OSA). The SoSITE OSA is based on the open mission systems (OMS) -- an Air Force effort to develop interfaces between mission systems and services connected through an avionics service bus (ASB). These interfaces use open and standardized interface definitions.

Related: Combat aircraft experts to brief industry on latest technologies for achieving air supremacy

SoSITE has two thrusts: architecture development, which focuses on concepts for future distributed architectures; and integration technology development, which focuses on tools to integrate heterogeneous mission systems quickly onto different types of aircraft. If DARPA officials decided to move to the second phase of the SoSITE program they will focus on resolving risks through experiments.

Several contractors may be selected for each of the program's initial two thrusts. Companies interested should respond no later than 13 June 2013. Email questions or concerns to DARPA at DARPA-BAA-14-40@darpa.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/ODA/DARPA/CMO/DARPA-BAA-14-40/listing.html. A .pdf file with SoSITE details is online at DARPA-BAA-14-40_04.30.2014.pdf.

More in Unmanned