The Space Development Agency is looking to improve automated target recognition on overhead persistent infrared sensors and is seeking "emerging algorithms" to help recognize high-velocity targets, to include hypersonic glide vehicles and cruise missiles and maneuvering re-entry vehicles.
The Target Recognition and Acquisition in Complex Environments (TRACE) effort is geared toward small businesses, according to a March 10 notice. SDA is interested in technologies to help improve the algorithms its OPIR sensors use to identify and classify targets.
"Dozens of weapon system threats may be launched in a raid," the notice states. "These threats are highly maneuverable and may travel in tight formation at many times the speed of sound. Add a low-contrast and cluttered background and the chance of successful target recognition and acquisition drops significantly."
SDA hopes to integrate the new capability into operational systems within the next four years and notes it is looking for solutions that don't require "unreasonable resource demands on the sensor host platform or supporting systems in terms of computing resources, size, weight and power."
The first phase of the effort will focus on developing a modeling and simulation framework to develop the algorithm and conduct trade space analysis. The second phase involves an advanced development effort to validate and verify the algorithm. A third phase would integrate the algorithm with the payload and data processing software and flight test it, possibly using SDA tracking layer satellites launched as part of Tranche 2 in late 2026.
SDA will accept proposals for TRACE between March 25 and April 27.