ISR and Tactical Systems– Division 10

Prototype capability for ground-penetrating radarThe ISR and Tactical Systems Division leads MIT Lincoln Laboratory research and technology development for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, counterterrorism, and Air Force activities, including air vehicle survivability and electronic warfare. The division has significant expertise in radio-frequency (RF) and optical sensor technology, advanced signal processing, data fusion and exploitation, embedded computing, and systems analysis. Significant field-testing activity is undertaken to understand phenomenology, to demonstrate new systems concepts in relevant environments, and to reconcile system performance models with real-world measurements. Examples of recent activities include the development of airborne 3D ladar for wide-area precision terrain mapping, new sensors to detect improvised explosive devices, service-oriented architecture prototyping for real-time situational awareness, and the development of very high-performance compact RF receivers for unmanned vehicle applications. The division operates the Lincoln Laboratory Flight Facility, which provides aircraft and ground support services for flight operations associated with Laboratory programs.


Group 101—ISR Systems and Architectures
The ISR Systems and Architectures Group investigates how critical national security challenges can be addressed with new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) technology. Our nation faces many irregular and asymmetric threats from enemy actors engaging in activities such as terrorism, insurgency, and illicit drug and weapons trafficking. The group develops and evaluates system concepts to counter these threats on the basis of sensors and data exploitation technologies working together in an integrated architecture. Understanding how synergistic fusion of information from multiple sources can contribute to successful solutions is a key part of this architecture development. Typical tasks include developing ISR systems concepts of operation; understanding and optimizing the use of sensor capabilities; systems engineering; analyzing sensor, intelligence, and operational data sources; developing models and simulations; quantitative evaluation of overall performances; and identifying systems' limitations and vulnerabilities. A foundational understanding of the physics and engineering of sensors, targets, and environments, as well as mathematical modeling, estimation theory, statistical analysis, operations research, and analysis and simulation software development are all leveraged to provide quantified answers to difficult national security questions. Analyses by the group lead to prototype developments and experimental test campaigns to fill knowledge gaps. The group often plans these field campaigns and analyzes the resulting test data in order to update its understanding of integrated solutions. Researchers in the group typically have strong backgrounds in physics, mathematics, electrical engineering, and computer science.

Group 102—Embedded and Open Systems
The Embedded and Open Systems Group develops advanced algorithm, hardware, and software technologies and applies these enabling technologies to signal and image processing, knowledge extraction, and decision support applications and systems. The expertise in the group spans hardware architecture (VLSI application-specific integrated circuits, field-programmable gate arrays, parallel signal processors), software engineering (open systems, portability, middleware, high-level programming models, distributed systems), program optimization (runtime and language), and the implementation of classification and anomaly detection algorithms (image processing, signal processing, graph analysis). The combination of multidisciplinary skills allows for co-design and co-optimization of advanced hardware, processor, and software architectures and algorithm technology. The group works collaboratively with other groups within the Laboratory and organizations across the nation to develop high-performance prototypes of advanced sensor, communication, and exploitation systems.

Group 104—Intelligence and Decision Technologies
The Intelligence and Decision Technologies Group develops prototypes to demonstrate innovative command-and-control technology and open system architectures that measurably improve intelligence and military decision making. This work begins with an understanding of the workflows of intelligence analysts and military commanders, often through operations research. Operational datasets are amassed to support all types of algorithm development, such as multisensor fusion, big data mining, cloud technologies, graph-based network detection, and artificial intelligence, including deep learning. The group guides the nation in the adoption of open architecture standards in air, space, and cyber platforms. Prototype systems for data exploitation and knowledge management are delivered for evaluation in theater.  Areas of technical staff expertise include systems analysis, modeling and simulation, feature extraction and pattern analysis, computer vision, natural language processing, machine learning, software development, and field experimentation.

Group 105—Airborne Radar Systems and Techniques
The Airborne Radar Systems and Techniques Group develops technology solutions for defense-related intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, emphasizing radio-frequency (RF) sensors, digital signal processing, target feature exploitation, tracking, electronic protection, and prototype system development. Innovative surface-surveillance radar systems and techniques that exploit unique target features are developed and demonstrated. These systems are based upon novel signal processing techniques that enhance detection, classification, and tracking, as well as robustness to electronic attack. Advanced RF front-end subsystem design for sensor modalities, including radar, signals intelligence, and electronic attack, also plays a key role in the group's activities. Wideband antenna elements and transmit/receive modules, advanced beamformers, and RF integrated-circuit receivers and transmitters are among the RF components developed within the group. These combined hardware and signal processing strengths enable the implementation of unique, robust radar and intelligence collection modes to meet new challenges, such as monitoring small mobile targets in mountainous and maritime environments, and mitigating the effects of intentional interference. Programs in the group typically require system development in world-class RF test chambers and unique rapid prototyping facilities, culminating in field test and evaluation. Principal technical staff expertise includes digital signal processing, electromagnetic analysis and antenna design, RF receiver/transmitter design, experimental physics, and hardware development and system integration.

Group 106—Active Optical Systems
The Active Optical Systems Group's mission is to establish a laser radar center of excellence through development of advanced laser radar technology. One of the major research thrusts in this pursuit is implementation and application of three-dimensional laser radars employing novel receiver technology featuring arrays of detectors that are individually sensitive to single photons. The group is currently addressing the development and operation of airborne and ground-based 3D laser radars, along with data collection, data exploitation, and simulation and modeling efforts for various applications. The group is also pursuing significant efforts in the development of coherent laser radar, including adaptation of advanced radar techniques to the optical environment, pushing the bandwidth of coherent systems into the terahertz regime, and using photon-counting detector arrays in coherent receivers. The goals of these efforts range from laboratory demonstrations to development of field-deployable systems. The group is also developing technologies to enable remote sensing systems in the near-optical terahertz regime. The objectives of this work include both receiver and source development for integrated remote sensing systems.

Group 107—Advanced Capabilities and Systems
The Advanced Capabilities and Systems Group provides assessments of novel technologies and system concepts to meet significant and pressing defense and intelligence needs and, where appropriate, rapidly develops prototype solutions to demonstrate concepts or provide fieldable capability. To accomplish these goals, the group taps Laboratory-wide expertise and couples this with the group’s strong systems analysis and prototyping capabilities. Modeling, often supported by quick measurements and tests, is used to evaluate the feasibility of proposed solutions to problems, as well as to creatively develop new alternatives. Products of this assessment process include rapid prototyping efforts as well as briefings and proposals for follow-on development efforts. Where a rapid capability is sought, the group often leads multigroup coalitions in the execution of these efforts.

Group 108—Tactical Defense Systems
The Tactical Defense Systems Group works to understand air defense issues, in particular, air vehicle survivability, vulnerability of U.S. Air Force (USAF) aircraft to weapons systems, electronic countermeasures, and air surveillance for homeland defense. The group focuses on understanding USAF and threat air defense systems through tests and measurements. Test activities include flight, field, and laboratory testing. The group operates three airplanes, all highly instrumented, and numerous ground systems as needed for test efforts. The group also develops new hardware for testing and prototype systems as well as for instrumenting existing sensors. There are a few major field-testing campaigns each year. Local testing is used to validate flight readiness. Data collected from testing are analyzed and compared with models in concert with Group 109, Systems and Analysis. The group's activities continue to evolve in parallel with USAF efforts, but the emphasis remains on providing answers to questions from our Air Force sponsors by conducting field measurements using state-of-the-art instrumentation and then analyzing the resulting data.

Group 109—Systems and Analysis
The Systems and Analysis Group provides technical analyses to senior USAF leadership on a broad range of issues, including survivability of advanced USAF aircraft versus modern air defenses; the impact of current and future electronic attack and electronic protection techniques; the effectiveness of advanced weapon systems; the capabilities and limitations of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems; and the vulnerability of precision-guided munitions to threat counters. Many of these system analyses rely on a large body of modeling and simulation tools for RF, infrared, GPS, and directed-energy systems, which are validated via participation in an active program of laboratory measurements and flight testing in conjunction with Group 108, Tactical Defense Systems.  In other cases, new models, supported by measurements and tests when feasible, are developed to evaluate new USAF capabilities. Where a rapid capability is sought, the group may lead multigroup coalitions in the execution of these efforts.

Flight Facility
The mission of the Flight Facility is to provide airborne platforms in support of specific research and development programs at Lincoln Laboratory. The Test Flight Facility provides a method of validation with actual field collected data. Facility research aircraft are flown, maintained, and managed by a professional staff of pilots, certified maintenance technicians, and administrative personnel. The Flight Facility's first priority is safety of flight. All flight operations are conducted by using procedures and equipment that meet or exceed all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements. As a result of various past airborne testing programs, mission-specific procedures have been developed. These procedures and the Federal Aviation Regulations provide for safe and successful operations. The Flight Facility was created in the 1970s to support Division 4's early air-to-air collision avoidance research programs sponsored by the FAA. As the need for more extensive airborne testing increased, the Flight Facility has expanded to support a variety of Department of Defense and FAA programs. The facility currently operates seven aircraft.


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