Explosive Hazards Defeat

The Explosive Hazards Defeat (EHD) program invests in basic research (budget activity 6.1), applied research (budget activity 6.2) and advanced technology development (budget activity 6.3) to support development of new capabilities for:

  • The on-the-move standoff detection of explosive hazards in the areas of:
    • Advanced buried object detection
    • Biological sensors
    • Compact modular sensors for tactical platforms
    • Standoff spectroscopic detection
  • The on-the-move standoff neutralization of explosive hazards in the areas of:
    • High-powered microwave (HPM) systems
    • Scalable neutralization systems

The basic research focuses on the fundamental and underlying scientific concepts related to the standoff defeat of explosive hazards. The applied research promotes and leverages the interdisciplinary science and technology (S&T) needed to develop innovative concepts to sense and neutralize explosive hazards from the very shallow water (VSW) to the inland objectives—autonomously, from unmanned platforms capable of being rapidly deployed in support of a broader, more effective naval presence in the littorals and ashore. The advanced technology development supports further maturation (additional system development and field tests) of the S&T developed in the applied research portion of the program.

Research Concentration Areas

The Marine Corps has identified a need for an organic explosive hazard detection, neutralization and proofing capability from the VSW mark (40-10’), Surf Zone(SZ) (10’-0’), Beach Zone(BZ) and then through to inland objectives. Previous technologies addressing this area of interest were intended to be deployed by U.S. Navy assets, such as the Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC). However, the Marine Corps is exploring (EHD) technologies that provide capabilities organic to the maneuver force and deployed from new or existing Marine Corps fleet vehicles. The portfolio concentrates on the standoff detection and neutralization of explosive obstacles as relevant to the maneuvering forces from the VSW zone to the objective, in breaching, clearance and exploitation operations. The focus is on-the-move capabilities to provide force protection across the range of military operations. This is a difficult challenge in extraordinarily complex environments, with great scientific and technical challenges that requires both the Navy and Marine Corps to pursue solutions that are complimentary, mutually supporting and interoperable. The Marine Corps defines standoff as the ability to detect or neutralize an explosive hazard with the sensor, platform and warfighter outside the serious injury zone (SIZ). This is per the Institute for Defense Analysis’s (IDA) Conventional Explosive and Explosive Precursor Component Standoff Detection capabilities based analysis (CBA).

Research Challenges and Opportunities

1. Standoff Detection: The focus of the detection program is the development of sensors and sensing technologies that enable on-the-move true standoff detection, where the sensor, platform and expeditionary warfighters are outside the SIZ. Given the operational needs and guidance, the portfolio will examine detection technologies that can enable forces to maintain operational tempo from the VSW (~40ft depth) to the inland objective. Detection technologies will include the range of mechanical, acoustic, electro-magnetic, electro-optical/infrared chemical and biological systems, as well as assorted techniques to employ them, such as change detection. Standoff obstacle detection may be achieved through a variety of detection technologies in the future. However, in the near to midterm, the detection capabilities will need to be mounted on a platform (unmanned air/ground vehicles) to achieve sufficient standoff. This program solicits research topics and thrust areas related to the following topics.

  • Compact Modular Sensors for Tactical Platforms: The program is seeking the miniaturization of multiple detection technologies for employment via small tactical platforms including group 1 and 2 UASs, small ground and amphibious platforms organic to ground/naval forces. Exploration includes ground penetrating radar (GPR), wire detection sensors, spectroscopic sensors, chemical sensors, magnetometers, EMI, acoustic sensors and EO/IR sensors. The sensor and sensing technologies should be able to demonstrate the capability to detect explosive hazards (mines, IEDs, UXO, etc.) as well. Research thrusts include:
    • Multi-functional sensors
    • Examine data fusion of multiple sensors
    • Multiple sensors on a single platform
    • Test/demonstrate multiple sensors on multiple platforms as a network of sensors
  • Standoff Spectroscopic Detection: The development of sensors that enable standoff detection—where the sensor, platform and warfighter are outside the SIZ—by obtaining spectroscopic fingerprints of explosive hazards for detection and confirmation. Given the operational needs and guidance, the portfolio will examine organic technologies that will enable forces to maintain operational tempo through a range of enemy threats from the VSW zone to the inland objective. Research thrusts include:
    • Examine possible technologies for multiple methods of standoff detection in various environments against multiple components of explosive hazards
    • Research spectroscopic fingerprints of explosive threats
    • Expand the range of spectroscopic signatures by multi-functional and/or orthogonal methods of spectroscopies
    • Research topics that address low photon collection due to optical scattering
    • Explore spectroscopic techniques with low integration time and large area imaging techniques in both active and passive methods
  • Advanced Buried Object Detection: The program is interested in on-the-move, modular, scalable, buried and surface laid object detection capability that allows rapid configuration of a system of systems, using any available ground or unmanned air platform that will enhance EHD missions against both conventional and asymmetric/irregular forces in multiple environments. Research thrusts include:
    • 3D ground penetrating radar transceivers, array architecture
    • Volumetric algorithm development, performance validation and real-time integration
    • System optimization, data collection and performance evaluation
  • Biological Sensor Research: This research addresses the development of living cell-based biosensors that are to be integrated with warfighter equipment where chemical selectivity and sensitivity are required for advanced situational awareness. Olfactory receptor genes can be utilized from multiple species to extend the breadth of detectable odorants. Detection of individual action, potential intensity and firing frequency in a multiplexed platform can provide additional information regarding agent recognition. Research thrusts include:
    • Canine research in olfactory capability enhancement and understanding
    • Development of a sensor platform that exploits the sensitivity and selectivity of native olfactory systems to permit direct detection of agents of operational interest

2. Standoff Neutralization: The intent of the neutralization program is to enable forces to maintain operational tempo through a range of enemy threats by providing technologies that support a family of systems that increases the standoff distance for neutralization of kinetic or non-kinetic, surface or subsurface, manned or unmanned threats from the VSW to the objective. The system should have the ability to neutralize threats with precision from a sufficient standoff distance that enables a maneuver unit to take action, maintain operational tempo and increases the survivability of the warfighter. Research areas include:

  • High Powered Microwave (HPM) Sources: HPM sources (and/or related components) to increase efficiency and/or to reduce size, weight, and power with the goal of creating a fieldable HPM based EH neutralization system to swiftly and safely neutralize all explosive hazards at standoff distances with or without direct knowledge of the EHs location. Criteria include; Multi-frequency or tunable frequency sources that can operate at high efficiency (Effective HPM frequency ranges); Low cost power combining methods to reach high average power HPM Research thrusts include:
    • High Average Power RF sources (or high repetition rate) capability that can lead to more compact, efficient systems for remote neutralization of IEDs.
    • Solid-state, compact, high power RF power combining
  • Scalable Neutralization System: This research examines an organic scalable neutralization system for maneuver units that include capabilities for a fuze independent, hard-kill capability at standoff against current and future buried explosive obstacles, and that decreases the logistics burden and limits collateral damage. Criteria include: A scalable neutralization system that can clear a route of various explosive hazards without reducing operational tempo; A reduction capability that defeats both single-impulse and blast hardened mines, as well as proud and buried IEDs; The system will provide pinpoint neutralization at standoff distances; It should be deployable in multiple forms from manned and unmanned vehicles, both from the ground and the air. Research thrusts include:
    • Compact and effective launching technologies
    • Fuse independent kill of buried/obscured objects
    • Charge deployment

Program Contact Information

Name: Dr. Joong Kim

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 321

Email for Questions: joong.kim@navy.mil

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please see our Funding Opportunities page and refer to broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-20-S-B001.

  • Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.
  • Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through grants.gov; instructions are included in the BAA.

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