NEWS | Nov. 1, 2011

NRL researchers honored with NAVAIR's Heinemann Award

By Donna McKinney

Three researchers from the Naval Research Laboratory are part of the Integrated Product Team that has been recognized with the 2011 Edward H. Heinemann Award for their efforts on the AN/AAR-47A/B(V)2 Missile Warning Set Hostile Fire Indication. The three researchers are part of NRL's Optical Sciences Division.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) presents the Edward H. Heinemann Award annually to the individual or group of individuals who achieved or helped achieve the most significant improvement in the design or modification of an aircraft or an aircraft system. The NRL researchers include Mr. Merritt Cordray, from NRL's Applied Optics Branch; Dr. Jeanne Welch, from Orion International; and Mr. Greg Cowgill, from Tekla.

The AAR-47 HFI Integrated Product Team, in response to an Urgent Universal Needs Statement, modified the AAR-47 Missile Warning System to detect and alert assault aircraft aircrew when they are being targeted by unguided munitions. This is currently the largest threat to U.S. assault aircraft engaged in combat operations.

RADM R.L. Mahr, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command Aircraft Division, noted that the team test fired thousands of live fire rounds, completed over 1000 hours of modeling and simulations, and over 100 hours of test flight hours on 6 different assault platforms, and completed successful OPEVAL in just over 15 months. This unique capability is the first of its kind in any service in the Department of Defense and will undoubtedly enhance the protection of our warfighters engaged in combat operations ensuring their ability to safely accomplish their critical missions.

The NRL researchers collaborated with Marine Air Warfare Training Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) to develop the initial performance specification for Hostile Fire Indication (HFI). They also organized the series of live fire tests, which included obtaining the various types of ammunition needed for the tests, developing the test plan, and overseeing the execution of the tests. Finally, they used the AN/AAR-47 simulation capability at NRL to analyze the data from the live fire tests along with more than 650 hours of operational background data from Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom to develop the HFI algorithms required for the final system.