The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office (TTO) will conduct a Proposers' Day to provide information to the potential proposer community on the objectives of the Hydra program in advance of a planned Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). The Hydra Proposer's Day will be held on August 5, 2013 at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory - Kossiakoff Center (11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723) from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Advance registration is required. See the attachment Proposers' Day Announcement for detailed registration instructions
REGISTRATION CLOSES AT 5:00 pm EDT on Monday, 29 July 2013.
The Hydra program will develop and demonstrate an unmanned undersea system, providing a novel delivery mechanism for insertion of unmanned air and underwater vehicles into operational environments. Situated underwater, Hydra will use modular payloads within a standardized enclosure to enable scalable, cost-effective deployment of rapid response assets. Hydra will integrate existing and emerging technologies in new ways to create an alternate means of delivering a variety of payloads close to the point of use. The Hydra program seeks to develop and demonstrate initial examples of these payloads.
The DARPA Hydra program seeks to leverage mature and emerging component technologies to cost-effectively develop a new undersea launch platform with modular payloads, including air vehicle and undersea vehicle payloads. This would allow for early tests and demonstrations of individual high-risk components and systems before committing to a specific full-system approach. Component and system testing is desired to be conducted throughout the program to evaluate and refine technologies prior to operational demonstrations of the air vehicle and undersea payloads.
Hydra will be conducted in three phases. The initial phase will define concepts, develop component capabilities and reduce subsystem risks with one or more contracts awarded in each of the technical areas. The subsequent phases will involve the completion of development, field testing of components, integration of those components into a full system and operational demonstrations of the various capabilities.
DARPA will seek innovative proposals in the following areas of interest:
Technical Area 1: Modular Enclosure
DARPA will seek innovative proposals under this area to design and develop a modular enclosure suitable for hosting Hydra payloads. The modular enclosure will provide the means to transport, house and launch various payloads and will serve as a payload agnostic “mission truck” that will provide basic services and support to the payload module and individual payloads. The modular enclosure is desired to operate in the littorals for extended periods of time. The internal components shall be modular and able to be reconfigured to enable rapid integration of multiple types of payloads and maximize the space available for emerging payloads. The service and support should be scalable based on the mission with standard interfaces established to accommodate different payloads requirements.
Key sub-components are expected to include the modular enclosure structure, ballast system, energy, communications, command and control, propulsion, internal modularity suitable to accommodate different payload requirements, and measures for long-duration submerged persistence. The modular enclosure will have a ballast system for controlled descent and ascent and sufficient energy on board to enable all modular enclosure support operations, including a limited ability for self-propulsion to maneuver and reposition itself to a new location for increased deployment flexibility. It is desired to execute the associated payload missions without surfacing and be able to operate undersea for the entire mission while maintaining command and control connectivity via flexible, multi-modal communications. The modular enclosure is also expected to operate with a high degree of autonomy, managing control for all internal functions and preparation of the payloads for mission execution. Technical Area 1 will also oversee development of interface control specifications and documentation to ensure compatibility with internal payloads and external delivery systems.
Technical Area 2: Air Vehicle Payload
DARPA will seek innovative proposals under this area to design and develop an above-water payload suitable for use from the modular enclosure while demonstrating the military utility of the Hydra concept. The Air Vehicle Payload is envisioned to consist of individually encapsulated air vehicles within a module that fits into the standard Hydra modular enclosure. The Air Vehicle Payload relies on the Hydra modular enclosure to provide a stable undersea platform, communications while submerged, and buoyancy. The air vehicle payload module would house, maintain, initialize and release individual encapsulated air vehicles upon external cueing. The encapsulated air vehicles are expected to be ejected from the module and modular enclosure, float to the surface, launch, fly a minimum range and conduct one or more of the missions which will be described in classified and export controlled annexes to the BAA. DARPA will seek Technical Area 2 proposals which reduce cost and risk by leveraging an existing air vehicle, modifying an existing air vehicle or otherwise maximizing the use of existing components. Additional innovative air vehicle payloads not described in the classified and export controlled BAA annexes will be considered under this technical area.
Technical Area 3: Undersea Payload
DARPA will seek innovative proposals under this area to design and develop a below-water payload suitable for use from the DARPA-funded modular enclosure while demonstrating the military utility of the Hydra concept. The Undersea Payload is envisioned to consist of a system that fits into the modular enclosure with a small number of standard undersea vehicles suitable for one or more of the missions described in the export controlled annex to the BAA. In contrast to the air vehicle payload, less emphasis is placed on individual missions for the undersea vehicle. Rather, the Hydra focus will be on safely transporting existing undersea vehicles, providing the required energy for long endurance, efficiently transferring energy, transferring and transmitting collected information, and launching and docking the vehicles. The modular enclosure is expected to provide a stable undersea platform, communications, and buoyancy. Key elements of the undersea payload are expected to include providing onboard air-independent energy for recharging undersea vehicles, launching and docking vehicles, downloading vehicle data, and transmitting required information to a command and control center via the modular enclosure. DARPA will seek Technical Area 3 proposals which reduce cost and risk by leveraging an existing vehicle, modifying an existing vehicle, or otherwise maximizing the use of existing components. Additional innovative undersea payloads suitable for missions not described in the export controlled BAA annex will be considered under this technical area.
Technical Area 4: Overall System Concepts of Operation (Phase 1 only)
DARPA will seek innovative proposals under this area to develop concepts of operation or conduct architecture studies related to the overall Hydra system. Examples include the development of innovative concepts for Hydra deployment and retrieval using subsurface craft and tactical air transport aircraft; identification of preferred command, control, and communications architectures which most seamlessly integrate into existing battle management systems; or evaluation of the operational impact of the Hydra above water and undersea payloads in support of missions identified in the classified and export controlled BAA annexes.
Technical Area 5: Supporting Technologies (Phase 1 only)
DARPA will seek innovative proposals under this area to explore various supporting technologies in support of the Hydra concept. One or more capabilities addressing key technical risks will be sought for study and/or development with proof-of-concept demonstration. An example of a relevant technology is the development of approaches for high efficiency recharging of undersea vehicles, as this directly impacts the quantity of energy storage required for a given mission. Additional innovative technical studies or proof-of-concept demonstrations will be considered under this technical area.