DOD SBIR 24.1 BAA

Active
No
Status
Closed
Release Date
November 29th, 2023
Open Date
January 3rd, 2024
Due Date(s)
February 21st, 2024
Close Date
February 21st, 2024
Topic No.
N241-003

Topic

Lower-Cost Textiles for Dismounted Signature Management

Agency

Department of DefenseN/A

Program

Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024

Summary

The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the development of lower-cost textiles for dismounted signature management. The focus of this solicitation is to develop novel approaches to textile solutions in Marine Pattern (MARPAT) camouflage that lower costs, increase manufacturability and scalability, increase lifecycle and wearability, and increase the ability to launder. The developed textiles are intended to reduce individual dismounted Marine signature in the Infrared Spectrum (IR) from Near Infrared (NIR) through to Long Wave Infrared (LWIR). The goal is to degrade the ability of adversaries to detect, identify, and recognize a Marine, increasing Marine lethality and survivability in a sensor contested environment. The Phase I of the project involves developing new concepts and delivering fabric swatches/samples, while Phase II focuses on maturing the technology and delivering prototypes. The Phase III involves transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use and expanding it to other services. The project is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) and requires U.S. ownership and operation. The project duration and funding specifics are not provided in the document. For more information, visit the SBIR topic link or the solicitation agency website.

Description

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Advanced Materials

 

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 foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

 

OBJECTIVE: Develop novel approach(es) to textile solution(s) in Marine Pattern (MARPAT) camouflage that lower the cost, increase the manufacturability/scalability, increase the lifecycle, increase ability to launder, and increase the wearability over current signature management textiles. This effort shall apply the developed concept(s) to a Flame Retardant (FR) textile. The textile/material solution(s) developed in this effort are intended to be used in a tactical environment to reduce individual dismounted Marine signature, applicable to a suite of items, in the Infrared Spectrum (IR) from Near Infrared (NIR) through to Long Wave Infrared (LWIR). The intent of this capability is to degrade the ability of adversaries to detect, identify, and recognize a Marine, increasing Marine lethality and survivability in a sensor contested environment.

 

DESCRIPTION: Detection, recognition, identification, and targeting of dismounted warfighters is a critical variable in past and future fights. Currently dismounted infantry and infantry-like Marines are at an increased risk from various IR imagers from the ground and air. Publicly accessible information and videos on recent events (i.e., the Ukraine-Russia conflict) have demonstrated how accessible and proliferated a variety of sensors are due to recent technological advancements in detector technology. The 2016 Marine Corps Operating Concept cites a ‘“Battle of signatures” where “Tomorrow’s fights will involve conditions in which “to be detected is to be targeted is to be killed.” Adversaries will routinely net together sensors, spies, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), and space imagery to form sophisticated “ISR-strike systems” that are able to locate, track, target, and attack an opposing force… No matter the means of detection, unmanaged signatures will increasingly become a critical vulnerability… Defensively, our units will need to adapt how they fight, emphasizing emissions control and other means of signature management to increase their survivability.” [Ref 4]

 

The current combat ensemble provides visual (VIS) and Near Infrared (NIR) signature mitigation. Current VIS is provided in MARPAT with a digital pattern breakup by utilizing four (4) distinct colors in two (2) color-way patterns, Woodland and Desert, for use in their respective environments. NIR signature management (typically defined as 700-1,000 nanometers) is achieved through the camouflage pattern, breakup, and pigments of the dyestuffs. Near-term improvements and updates to military textiles with Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) (most typically defined as 1,000-1,700 nanometers with some emerging devices seen in the upper ranges of 1,700-2,500 nanometers) mitigation through adjustments in dyestuffs are being evaluated for adoption; these values are ITAR restricted and will be made available to Phase I awardees. Current Marine Corps clothing and equipment items do not have Midwave Infrared (MWIR) (typically defined as 3-5 micrometer wavelength) or LWIR (typically defined as 8-14 micrometer wavelength) signature mitigation. LWIR imaging sensors based on uncooled microbolometer technology are a particularly pervasive threat as costs associated with such systems continue to go down, while the performance of commercial systems available worldwide are competitive with military-grade capabilities.

The intent for this SBIR topic is to explore the development of novel lower-cost textile(s) that incorporate(s) current signature mitigation from VIS to NIR, tentative requirements for SWIR, and a significant increase over current capabilities in MWIR and LWIR signature mitigation. The textile(s) developed in this effort should focus on reducing the probability in identification (of a user), reducing the range of detection, and/or reducing targeting accuracy if detected through NIR, SWIR, MWIR, and LWIR sensors. While there are limited commercially available fabrics that mitigate signature from VIS to LWIR, these fabrics are often cost ineffective for the general Marine infantry. Another disadvantage of some current commercial or developmental technologies is overall low comfort or wearability, due to retention of heat, from a user perspective. Additionally, many of these commercial technologies have a short lifespan or use, and must be stored, cared for, and laundered in certain manners. Finally, the existing technologies and current developmental efforts have been developed for Army use, in Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP), and not focused on MARPAT. The intent of the effort is to address the described issues and produce a material/textile solution(s) for tactical use that mitigate individual signature in VIS-LWIR with a reduction in cost, increased wearability, focus on development of MARPAT camouflage solutions, increase ease of storage/transportation, and increase lifecycle use when compared to current commercially available solutions. A textile with such attributes should be perceived as a piece of protective equipment, providing a capability for the Marine force to operate in austere environments undetected.

 

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and MCSC in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Reference: National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual (NISP), 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq. (1993). https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-32/subtitle-B/chapter-XX/part-2004

 

PHASE I: Develop new and novel concepts to address the cost reduction of Signature Mitigating textile(s) through use of (but not limited to) different materials, additives, applications, finishes, formation and/or manufacturing methods, in Woodland and Desert MARPAT. Vendors shall not be limited in types of materials, structures, additives, and/or finishes and are encouraged to explore innovative or unconventional ideas and methods for textile(s). Consider scalability, launderability, storage and logistical considerations, lifecycle use, general wearability, and function for use in a range of climatic environments to develop successful novel methodologies and concepts for lower-cost signature mitigating textile(s). Proposed textiles may be reversible for multi-use. Provide a theoretical (written) concept for Desert MARPAT.

 

Phase I deliverables will include production and delivery of fabric swatch(es)/sample(s) of the most promising concept(s) down selected from the various conceptual approaches- emphasizing quality of solutions rather than quantity. The end state for Phase I will be a physical material/textile sample(s), (a minimum of twelve-by-twelve inch, 12in x 12in, but preferably larger) that mitigates VIS-LWIR signature in Woodland MARPAT, with a theoretical (written) concept for Desert MARPAT. Vendors shall explore and identify any visual (color) tradeoffs or trade space associated with Woodland MARPAT when intersected with success in the NIR, SWIR, MWIR, or LWIR ranges. Phase I deliverables shall also provide a written report detailing ways to optimize and further development in the Phase I Option or a Phase II potential effort. If I Phase I Option is exercised, further develop the most promising textile(s) and conceptualize several end item configurations (in the form of drawings) to be considered for prototypes in Phase II.

 

The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) may be provided to vendors upon award of Phase I.

 

PHASE II: Explore the novel Phase I technology(s) and/or alternative proposed concept(s) to mature a lower-cost (compared to what is currently commercially available) Woodland MARPAT signature mitigating textile for use in an operationally relevant environment on a dismounted Marine. These textile(s) proposed may be refined to areas of interest which include, but not limited to, overgarments/ponchos, personnel covers, and personal hide sites. Concepts should consider multi-functionality of the textile(s) to reduce the burden of number, size, and weight to the Marine. Further refine visual appearance; tune NIR and SWIR values to meet current and potential future USMC requirements (available with a signed NDA), further develop MWIR and LWIR signature mitigation, reduce cost, increase wearability, decrease or address logistical/transportation/storage concerns, and increase lifecycle and explore launderability of proposed textiles. Textile(s) matured in Phase II must be practical for a dismounted infantry Marine to wear, use, transport, and care for. Practical for a dismounted infantry Marine can be defined as creating no to minimal (maximum of 16 oz/sq yd for the textile, objective under 7 oz/sq yd) additional burden in terms of weight as well as the textile must function (in terms of use) in all weather and not be damaged by elements (rain, hail, snow, etc), and the care/ transportation of the textile (must be packable in a deployers bag, must be able to be stored in non-climate controlled facilities during travel to and from facilities, must be launderable if necessary). CUI and classified metrics, additional data, and further description to needs may be provided to the vendor upon award of Phase II.

 

Examine the application of concepts to substrates, including those with Flame Resistant (FR) performance, with delivery of a minimum of one (1) developmental swatch (minimum of twelve-by-twelve inch, 12in x 12in) of a FR signature mitigating textile. Phase II deliverables will also include textile testing on proposed fabric solution(s) to include but not limited to the tests defined in Table 1. Phase II will result in the delivery of fifty to one hundred (50-100) yards of each non-FR textile concept (minimum of one (1)). In addition to the textile yardage, submit three (3) prototypes utilizing the proposed fabric(s) in an existing military baseline configuration. Baseline patterns for this configuration will be provided for fabrication of prototypes upon award. In addition to the baseline prototypes, propose novel end items, fabrication, or applications in the Phase II report. Deliver a concise brief, unclassified, brief that explains the high-level principles of how their technology meets the user’s operational and maintenances needs.

 

If exercised, Phase II Option shall further refine the textiles, including the FR capability if warranted, and prototypes in the form of: IR capabilities, cost, scalability, launderability, storage and logistical considerations, lifecycle use, general wearability, and function for use in a range of climatic environments. If warranted, develop other substrate(s) that could be applied to other areas of interest such as combat uniforms, armor and load carriage, outerwear, or cold weather gear.

 

			Test Type
		
		
			Test Method
		
	
	
		
			Break Strength
		
		
			ASTM D 5034
		
	
	
		
			Tear Strength
		
		
			ASTM D 1424
		
	
	
		
			Weight
		
		
			ASTM D 3776
		
	
	
		
			Air Permeability
		
		
			ASTM D737
		
	
	
		
			Dry Time
		
		
			MM-TS-07 (AATCC)
		
	
	
		
			Colorfastness to Light
		
		
			AATCC TM16 A or E
		
	
	
		
			Colorfastness to Laundering
		
		
			AATCC TM61 test 1A 
		
	
	
		
			Colorfastness to Crocking
		
		
			AATCC TM8
		
	
	
		
			Colorfastness to Perspiration
		
		
			AATCC TM15
		
	
	
		
			Toxicity Reference
		
		
			MIL-PRF-32679 Table I or MIL-PRF-43637F 3.13 available via ASSIST
		
	
	
		
			pH
		
		
			AATCC TM81- Reference MIL-PRF-32679 Table I or MIL-PRF-43637F 3.12 available via ASSIST
		
	
	
		
			Dimensional Stability Report after Laundering: 
		
		
			according to AATCC 135
		
	
	
		
			Launderability at 0, 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 cycles (document with written report and photos)
		
		
			AATCC 135, settings to be determined by vendor dependent on application
		
	
	
		
			Hemispherical Directional Reflectometry (HDR) or Delta T
		
		
			Use a SOC-100 HDR or spectrophotometer with black body and calibrated sensor (report calculation methods) *This test(s) is optional, but encouraged*
		
	

 

For vendors awareness, the Phase II and III efforts will likely require secure access, and the contractor will need to be prepared for personnel and facility certification for secure access.

 

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. See note in the Description.

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Marine Corps in transitioning the textile(s) and technology(s) for Marine Corps use in the Program Manager Infantry Weapons (PM IW) teams (Individual Armor and Clothing and Equipment). Transition the developed processes and novel textile(s) though a multitude applicable end item forms. Continue to improve manufacturing processes, supply chain robustness and availability, lower cost through economies of scale on developed textile(s), Continue to expand technology to additional substrates, including those with FR capabilities. Assist in development of briefings or trainings on technology and use of items, understandable and digestible at the lowest level. Information regarding specific textiles and items for transition will be provided upon award.

These processes and textile(s) can be transitioned to all other services for their signature management programs as applicable. The technology and processes developed in this SBIR could be used in programs outside of Clothing & Equipment and may be applicable to other portfolio’s such as Land Systems. A successful signature mitigating textile(s) with a lower cost would be applicable to all individual ‘kit’ and would dramatically change Warfighters ability to operate undetected in a contested environment.

 

REFERENCES:

“Changes to Camouflage Spectral Reflectance Requirements Session #18: SWIR Values.” JAPBI Brief -7 November 2019, p. 6. https://www.dla.mil/Portals/104/Documents/TroopSupport/CloTex/Changes%20to%20Camo.pdf?ver=2019-11-21-111440-410 
Olsen, Frode Berg. “Methods for Evaluating Thermal Camouflage.” RTO-MP-SCI-145 - RTO SCI Symposium “Sensors and Sensor Denial by Camouflage, Concealment, and Deception.” Brussels, Belgium, 19-20 April 2004. https://www.sto.nato.int/publications/STO%20Meeting%20Proceedings/RTO-MP-SCI-145/MP-SCI-145-16.pdf 
“Camouflage U.S. Marine corps utility uniform: pattern, fabric, and design Patent US6805957B1. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6805957B1/en
“Marine Corps Operating Concept How an Expeditionary Force Operates in the 21st Century.” Department of the Navy, Headquarters United States Marine Corps, September 2016, p. 10. https://www.mcwl.marines.mil/Portals/34/Images/MarineCorpsOperatingConceptSept2016.pdf

 

KEYWORDS: Signature; Signature Management; Sensors; Materials; Textiles; Clothing and Equipment; Protective Clothing; Dismounted Signature; Infrared