DOD SBIR 24.4 Annual

Active
Yes
Status
Open
Release Date
October 3rd, 2023
Open Date
October 3rd, 2023
Due Date(s)
March 31st, 2025
Close Date
March 31st, 2025
Topic No.
A224-014

Topic

Helicopter Expedited Refueling Operations (HERO)

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic "Helicopter Expedited Refueling Operations (HERO)" as part of the SBIR program. The objective of this solicitation is to develop solutions that increase the efficiency of setup, refueling operations, and disassembly of forward arming and refueling points (FARP) for rotary-winged assets. The goal is to reduce the amount of time these assets are unavailable for ground combat operations and decrease the likelihood of enemy detection and attack on the FARP. Currently, FARPs are vulnerable to enemy attack and require a significant number of personnel and equipment. Refueling times can take hours, and the FARP's limited defensive capabilities make mobility essential. The Army is looking for solutions that expedite the aggregation/setup/breakdown of FARP vehicles, decrease refueling times, improve pumping systems and equipment, and decrease aircraft wait times. The solicitation is open for proposals until March 31, 2025. The Phase I of the project requires Direct to Phase II (DP2) proposals that demonstrate scientific and technical merit, feasibility, and potential commercial applications. Phase II involves refining the design and creating a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 prototype/model/system. Phase III focuses on commercialization objectives and may involve low-rate production and testing. The SBIR program provides funding for small businesses to develop innovative solutions that address specific research topics. In this case, the focus is on improving the efficiency and safety of helicopter refueling operations in military settings.

Description

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)

 

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120 – 130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730 – 774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the announcement. Offerors are advised that foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

 

OBJECTIVE:

Develop, demonstrate, and deliver solutions that increase the efficiency of the setup, refueling operations, and disassembly of forward arming and refueling points (FARP) to reduce the amount of time rotary-winged assets are unavailable to support ground combat operations and decrease the likelihood of enemy detection and attack on the FARP.

 

DESCRIPTION:

The Army must modernize the operations and safety of forward arming and refueling points (FARP), where Army aircraft are refueled and re-armed. FARPs need to be more efficient and less vulnerable to enemy attack. The FARP is critical in keeping aircraft available to support troops in contact with the enemy. This requires the FARP to be in an area open enough to land aircraft and close enough to combat to be of value. This, combined with the equipment required to rearm and refuel aircraft and how long this takes, makes FARPs easy targets for enemy aircraft, artillery, or drones.

A typical FARP has four service points and requires 26 personnel, at least 10 of whom must be petroleum service specialists — eight to refuel aircraft and two to monitor the emergency shut-off valves. It also requires 16 arming personnel (two per service point). These requirements can quickly overextend the forward support company’s petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL), and ammunition personnel, especially if a second FARP is needed. For additional specifics on FARP vehicles/equipment, see the “Refueling Equipment” section beginning on page 2-6 on the ATP 3-04.17 document link in the “References” below. 

Refueling times and procedures at the FARP vary depending on aircraft type and pumping/pressure capacity. Current systems ensure a steady pace while refueling so the hose and tank don’t over pressurize and damage equipment, or overflow, creating fire hazards. Currently, when refueling directly from the tanker trucks, the maximum flow is 300 gallons per minute (GPM). In FARPs with more than four refueling points, the points farthest from the truck usually take more time to refuel due to hose length and the flow rate of the pump. When conducting operations using 500-gallon blivets — drums for storing and transporting liquid fuels — the pump system is only capable of pumping 225 GPM, meaning that during a refueling mission, three of the four pumps can dispense 50 GPM and the other pump dispenses 90 GPM. During extended, continuous use, there is the possibility pumps can overheat and fail.

With these limitations, refueling a helicopter platoon can take hours. FARPs are easily detected by enemies so crews and equipment must occupy a location, quickly establish the FARP, efficiently conduct required tasks, then rapidly disassemble it. Fast-paced operations can leave a FARP with limited defensive capabilities, so mobility is essential. 

The Army is looking for  solutions that increase the efficiency of aircraft refueling operations on FARPs will lead to increased effectiveness on the battlefield and faster support of troops in contact with the enemy.

We are interested in solutions that:

Expedite aggregation/assembly/setup/breakdown of FARP vehicles, hoses, or equipment 
Decrease aircraft refueling times (within safety regulations, pressure limits, etc.)
Improve pumping systems, valves, hoses, or other FARP equipment 
Decrease aircraft wait/loiter times 

Solutions can be “drop-in” replacements for FARP parts/components, or augmentations to existing systems.

 

Cost should be considered in the SBIR proposals.

 

PHASE I:

Only Direct to Phase II (DP2) proposals will be accepted for this solicitation. DP2 proposals must provide documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility (listed in the following paragraph) are met, and the proposals must describe potential commercial applications of the solution. The provided documentation should contain all relevant information including, but not limited to, technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results.

DP2 proposals should build on the design formulated according to Phase I requirements: design a proof-of-concept solution that increases efficiency of the setup, refueling operations, and the disassembly of forward arming and refueling points (FARP) to reduce the amount of time rotary-winged assets are unavailable to support ground combat operations and decrease likelihood of enemy detection and attack on the FARP. The solution will be evaluated based on a holistic view of factors including its ability to integrate designated Army open standards (see “References”), cost of development, its adaptability based on individual Soldiers’ needs or scenarios, or any additional factors proposed.

 

PHASE II:

Refine the preliminary design developed from Phase I equivalent and create a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 prototype/model/system. System refinement should include integrating existing Army systems or newly developed systems from other performers and showcasing modularity. The solution will be demonstrated at a vendor-provided, government-approved location to evaluate performance. Solutions will be evaluated based on a constellation of criteria including technical feasibility, decrease in FARP stand up or refueling times, cost reasonableness, and compatibility with existing systems. 

 

Required Phase II deliverables include the TRL 6 system and operational demonstration for performance evaluation. Additionally, the performer will deliver monthly progress reports detailing design and performance analysis. At the end of the period of performance, the performer will submit a final technical report.

 

Performers may be eligible for a Sequential Phase II award after completion of the Phase II period of performance. Sequential Phase II awards can extend the period of performance with additional funding and matching opportunities to finish building solutions at the Army stakeholders’ discretion.

 

PHASE III:

 

The objective of Phase III, where appropriate, is for the small business to pursue commercialization objectives through the effort. Companies may develop a manufacturing-ready product design, capable of integration with the existing or future systems, and demonstrate technology integration. Low-rate production will occur as required. Companies will engage in laboratory or operational testing as required. Phase III deliverables include system-level integration technical data package, installation documentation, and system-level prototype for demonstration and government-sponsored testing.

 

 

KEYWORDS:

Forward Arming and Refueling Points, FARP, Aviation, Rotary Wing, Aircraft, Fuel, Refueling

 

REFERENCES:

 

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN32371-ATP_3-04.17-001-WEB-3.pdf
https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN36290-FM_3-0-000-WEB-2.pdf1. 
DSP :: MOSA (dla.mil)
Modular Open Systems Approach – DoD Research & Engineering, OUSD(R&E) (cto.mil)

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