FY16 STUDY TORS

USAF Scientific Advisory Board

Data Analytics to Support Operational Decision Making

Terms of Reference

Background
The Air Force has invested heavily in a broad range of integrated ISR collection assets across air, space, and cyberspace that provide data feeds intended to support operational decision making.  However, the sheer amount of raw data produced daily by these combined assets is enormous and far exceeds the current analytic capabilities of the PCPAD framework to analyze it and then make products available in an effective way to decision makers at all levels. Data sources are heterogeneous, span all domains, are spread over multiple networks and varying classification levels, and include vast amounts of stored historical data, including non-military and public source data. The scale of processing, exploitation, correlation and analyses needed to fully extract even a fraction of the potential information in these data can no longer be directly coordinated by human analysts. Yet there are other organizations, including large financial institutions, major telecomms, and many others that routinely use automated "massive data analytics" to support decision-making by identifying and analyzing rare and unpredictable events in comparably vast data streams from non-homogenous and disparate sources involving multiple security levels. The Air Force needs a better understanding of the extent to which such modern data analytics could augment/improve current ISR analysis approaches and help identify cross-database correlations, and how such capabilities could be effectively integrated in the current or future PCPAD framework.

Charter
The study will:
  • Survey current use of massive data analytics in relevant large data-intensive commercial and non-DOD government enterprises as well as the intelligence community to assess their use and effectiveness for anomaly detection, characterization, and prediction.
  • Compare characteristics of data streams from Air Force ISR assets with those of such other enterprises, including factors including heterogeneity, asynchrony, anomaly characteristics, and others that may impact or limit Air Force ability to utilize data analytics.
  • Assess the abilities of data analytic methods similar to those used by these enterprises to address aspects of ISR processing, exploitation, and analyses currently done by humans.
  • Determine the extent to which automated data analytics with appropriate supporting infrastructure can enable improved processing, exploitation, and analyses of multi-source ISR data to support improved operational decision making.
  • Identify unique training and education requirements needed to create an ISR workforce with necessary understanding of data science, visualization, and knowledge management to support effective use of data analytics in the Air Force global integrated ISR enterprise.
  • Recommend and prioritize areas for research and development needed to enable large-scale data analytics suited to characteristics of the global integrated ISR environment.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2016. Publish report in December 2016.


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USAF Scientific Advisory Board

Responding to Uncertain or Adaptive Threats in Electronic Warfare

Terms of Reference

Background
Increasing signal density and highly variable or real-time adaptive waveforms and modalities will challenge the ability of Air Force systems to identify source and intent of signals in the RF spectrum. Proliferation of software defined architectures and advanced digital signal processing in adversary systems will make it increasingly likely that the first time a threat signal is detected may be in an operational environment in support of an ongoing adversary kill chain. As a result, the traditional process of collecting, assessing, developing, and testing countermeasures before fielding them is likely to become inadequate for the A2/AD environment. To conduct electronic protection, attack, and support, blue systems will need to adaptively probe, sense, and respond in real time utilizing machine-learning algorithms in what has been described as Cognitive Electronic Warfare. However, it is unclear to what extent the current and foreseeable state-of-the-art in machine learning and adaptive decision-making algorithms are suitably mature to fully enable this new approach to electronic warfare. Potential red countermeasures and the likelihood of blue fratricide are also poorly understood. There is a need to clarify what is realistically possible to support the probe-sense-respond paradigm in the near term and over the foreseeable future, what the performance of such adaptive approaches will likely be, and what approaches offer the most promise for developing cognitive electronic warfare capabilities.

Charter
The study will:
  • Define current and likely future threat system characteristics that complicate or prevent traditional a priori development of effective electronic countermeasures.
  • Survey the current state-of-the-art in machine learning and adaptive decision-making algorithms and assess the likely rate of progress in key areas over the foreseeable future.
  • Determine the performance that will be realistically achievable in the near, mid, and far term from various technical approaches to implementing the probe-sense-respond paradigm.
  • Identify the most promising avenues along which development of cognitive electronic warfare should be focused and provide realistic timelines and milestones for each of these paths.
  • Determine key research and development efforts that should be undertaken to accelerate progress in essential technical areas for enabling probe-sense-respond approaches.
  • Recommend integrated demonstrations and transition opportunities for near, mid and far-term implementations of cognitive electronic warfare.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2016. Publish report in December 2016.


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USAF Scientific Advisory Board

Airspace Surveillance to Support A2/AD Operations

Terms of Reference

Background
Airspace surveillance provides battlespace situational awareness, initiates the targeting "kill chain" and provides an integrated battlespace picture, effective airspace control and battle management. This awareness requires near-real-time correlated data to provide adversary order-of-battle. Currently, airspace surveillance is provided by ground based sensors and large aircraft like the E-3 AWACS and RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft. As A2/AD threats drive these assets farther to the rear, significant gaps in coverage will exist which limit situational awareness of the forward battlespace. Technologies such as ground-based over-the-horizon (OTH) radars and bi-static/multi-static radars have demonstrated the ability to surveil at extended ranges and in complex environments. Additionally, space sensors may offer the potential to contribute to surveillance if tactical timelines can be met. Other modalities, including the cyber domain, could also contribute to an improved battlespace picture in difficult environments. These technologies may offer the potential to provide battlespace situational awareness in an A2/AD environment. In order to address the emerging gaps in airspace surveillance, the Air Force needs to examine relevant innovative and emerging technologies applicable to the A2/AD environment.

Charter
The study will:
  • Assess current and emerging US and allied technologies for over-the-horizon (OTH) radar systems and their potential applicability for providing battlespace surveillance of potential A2/AD adversaries.
  • Determine if airborne bi-static or multi-static radar systems are feasible for this environment, and if so what would be the capabilities and limitations of these approaches.
  • Assess the potential for space and cyber assets to contribute to battlespace situational awareness within tactical timelines.
  • Identify potential countermeasures to the above approaches and assess their likely impacts on US ability to maintain battlespace awareness in these types of environments.
  • Determine promising technologies that can support improved battlespace situational awareness, including combat ID, in A2/AD environments or that can offset adversary countermeasures to such capabilities.
  • Recommend key demonstrations, timelines, and transition opportunities for near, mid, and far term implementations of promising approaches.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2016. Publish report in December 2016.


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USAF Scientific Advisory Board

Directed Energy Maturity for Airborne Self-Defense Applications

Terms of Reference

Background
Recent DOD demonstrations indicate that directed energy (DE) technologies, especially solid-state laser, millimeter-wave, and microwave systems, are approaching a level of maturity that could make airborne applications viable for development and fielding. For example, solid-state laser technology has shown advances in both slab and fiber-optic laser performance. To date, lasers have been fielded on air platforms to defeat EO/IR seekers on surface-to-air missiles, but key technologies may have advanced sufficiently to enable a high-energy laser (HEL) capability on large aircraft, such as the AC-130J, to provide defense against both RF and EO/IR guided surface-to-air missiles. Also, the Active Denial System (ADS) is a non-lethal millimeter-wave technology that has been demonstrated for ground use and could potentially be suited for certain airborne applications including special operations missions. Any applications of airborne directed energy require consideration of size, weight, power, thermal management, beam control, system and platform integration, concepts of employment, potential countermeasures, and other factors to determine their operational utility. This "Quick Look" study will assess the current HEL and ADS technology maturity for airborne directed energy, including associated system, platform, and operational integration issues, in the context of AFSOC-envisioned CONEMPs on the AC-130J.

Charter
The study will:
  • Identify missions that could be suited for airborne HEL and/or ADS directed energy self-defense capabilities; characterize concepts of employment for each, including targets and desired effects, countermeasures, and criteria for employment effectiveness.
  • Assess the current understanding of installed performance for directed energy effects against these classes of targets, including countermeasure effectiveness, and recommend testing needed to establish the knowledge base of airborne DE effects.
  • Determine the current technology maturity of HEL and ADS directed energy systems for airborne self-defense, including power and thermal management, pointing and beam control, aperture integration, and other system-level considerations.
  • Evaluate SWaP available for potential DE system integration on Block 60 of the AC-130J, and quantify any shortfalls relative to corresponding DE system SWaP requirements.
  • Identify any key research efforts needed to mature technologies enabling airborne DE systems and their integration on the AC-130J, and develop a roadmap and timeline for maturing these.
  • Describe needed component and system-level testing, relevant critical milestones, and platform-integrated demonstrations to arrive at the necessary confidence to enable a potential development decision regarding a HEL and/or ADS capability for the AC-130J.
Study Products
Briefing to SAF/OS & AF/CC in July 2016. Publish report in December 2016.