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This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals for novel and innovative technologies and approaches that will deliver passive, autonomous or semi-autonomous counter mobility (CMob) area denial capability. This means obstructing, slowing and stopping heavy armoured vehicles such as tanks, whilst minimising collateral damage.
The competition has an initial £1 million available to fund multiple proposals which start at a minimum of Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 2 in order to increase the TRL by the end of the phase. Additional funding is anticipated to be available for further phases to develop technologies to a higher TRL and into a deployable battlefield solution.
The call will close at midday on 8 November 2018.
2. Competition scope
Controlling adversary movement across the battlefield and protecting large areas from rapid infiltration of heavy armoured vehicles are key tactical considerations in combat. If approaches to stopping or impeding heavy armoured vehicles are carried out effectively they can result in a number of effects:
- disrupt - break up an enemy, reducing their tempo
- turn - divert an enemy towards ground of our own choosing
- fix - slow an attacker within a specified area
- block - stop an attacker along a specific avenue of approach
Currently MOD solutions are not ideal as they rely heavily on explosives such as anti-tank mines which require careful control to avoid risk to non-combatants both during and after conflict. We are aiming to harness advances in engineering, design, materials science, computing and non-kinetic weapons to improve the ability of UK Defence to counter an adversary’s movement across the battlefield while preventing or minimising collateral damage.
Recent terrorist attacks involving heavy vehicles have demonstrated the continued need for security authorities to provide effective vehicle stopping barrier systems. Therefore, in addition to front-line military potential, successful novel and non-lethal systems could have wider domestic and international appeal to civil and wider government customers.
This competition seeks proposals for novel approaches to stopping or impeding tanks and other heavy armoured vehicles (tracked or wheeled) either through:
- physical barriers or effects (for example, traps, blockage, interference with wheels or tracks, or reduction in ability to navigate ground)
- invisible barriers or effects (for example, autonomous electromagnetic pulse (EMP) or sonic-based systems)
We are not interested in explosives-based solutions such as anti-tank mines or kinetic solutions involving direct or indirect fire weapons.
We are expecting proof-of-concept at least TRL 3 to be achieved by the end of Phase 1. We do not expect Phase 1 outputs to demonstrate full effectiveness against a tank but do expect them to demonstrate the potential to be able to do so in future.
Additional funding should be available for subsequent phases to further develop the technologies, integrate them into deployable systems including testing and demonstrating through trials in a relevant operational environment (up to TRL 7). It is likely that we will look to employ a number of technologies as an integrated solution or a suite of solutions which can be adapted for different terrain, combat tasks, and logistical needs to make it harder for adversaries to counter and to provide added tactical advantage. MOD is collaborating with the United States Department of Defence (US DoD) in this area which may provide an opportunity to carry out international trials and demonstrations in later phases. This is not anticipated to affect Phase 1 trials.
In the long term any proposed solutions must be capable of being improved and updated as technology advances. They must also be capable of being scaled-up for deployment over large areas and be operated passively, autonomously or semi-autonomously. Solutions must be relatively quick (in relation to the operational requirement) to deploy, comparatively cheap, cover a wide range of operating environments and must not require a significant number or operators to maintain.
3. Competition challenges
The two core technical challenges for this call are listed below and it is expected that proposals will address one or both of these within the scope defined above.
3.1 Challenge 1 - physical ‘barriers’
Physical ‘barriers’ or effects provide a clear visible deterrent to adversaries, can be quick to deploy and often do not require maintenance or supervision. In addition to impeding or stopping movement they may facilitate redirection and control entry points and movement corridors in the battlespace.
For this challenge we are interested in any physical ‘barrier’ or effect that has the potential to stop or slow something as heavy and mobile as a tank, but that is also deployable over a wide area if required. The requirement to deploy over wide areas means solutions must be relatively cheap and due to the potential for these solutions to be required in contested areas they should be relatively quick and safe to deploy. Moreover, logistics need to be considered, in terms of mass and volume.
Proposals addressing any aspects of this challenge will be considered. Particular areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
- novel tank traps
- novel ways of rapidly deploying tank traps
- physical barriers such as ‘walls’, sandbags or other obstructions
- obstacles which make it difficult to navigate or traverse
- obstacles which hinder movement and interfere with vehicle systems such as wire, webbing, nets
- materials which might interfere with vehicle operation such as non-toxic adhesives, hardening agents, obscurants (for example, a fog or smoke based barrier)
3.2 Challenge 2 - invisible ‘barriers’
Combat areas can be defended by ‘barriers’ or effects that are not immediately visible to an adversary. Reduced vehicle operating capability caused by these types of ‘barriers’ or effects represents a significant threat to the safety of crew in a combat zone. Even the potential threat of this type of effect may impede or deter adversary action.
Invisible ‘barriers’ or effects may be used in combination with physical ‘barriers’ or effects especially when they can offer long term disability or degradation of the vehicle, or incapacitate it in a fire zone where other defensive solutions are in operation.
Proposals addressing any aspects of this challenge will be considered. Particular areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
- EMP-based weapons
- acoustic, or light based devices
- electromagnetic interference or scrambling technologies
- solutions which reduce or impair visibility
3.3 Additional considerations
Whilst the whole solution is not expected within Phase 1, proposals should consider how the innovation would address the following cross cutting attributes that may have implications for exploitation:
- diverse physical environmental conditions, including wind, rain, sand, dust, mud, humidity, high and low extremes of temperature and the urban environment (including delivery into or around buildings) and complex terrain (forests and woods and undergrowth)
- the contested environment, including detection or avoidance of physical tampering, and the minimisation of signatures to avoid detection by the enemy
- challenging electromagnetic environments, including potential loss of communication links and susceptibility to electronic warfare techniques
- simplified features, such as launch, recovery, loading, unloading, recharging. For complex automated delivery this could include systems such autonomous laying
- how the system can be hosted on, integrated with and delivered by a wide range of platform types (such as air delivery, for example)
- logistics, including how the system can be deployed, which vehicles are required and any logistic burden to getting the solution into theatre and/or the frontline
3.4 Clarification of what we want
We are primarily interested in passive, autonomous or semi-autonomous systems.
Your proposal should:
- be innovative for defence and/or security
- address one or both of the challenge areas to enable slowing or impeding of tracked or wheeled heavy armoured vehicles
- detail how the solution will provide barrier or point effect and scalable area denial
- describe how the solution prevents or minimises collateral damage including whether your solution will offer any discrimination between in and out of scope targets
- highlight how the technology will deliver a change in capability over that offered by current state of the art technologies
- detail how you will reach and demonstrate proof-of-concept level of at least TRL 3 by the end of Phase 1
- articulate how the solution builds on existing published or open knowledge
- comply with all relevant legislation which includes the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), Amended Protocol II
3.5 Clarification of what we do not want
For this competition we are not interested in:
- consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews
- solutions that do not offer significant benefit to defence and security capability
- proposals that only offer a written report
- proposals that cannot demonstrate that the solution is feasible within the Phase 1 timescale
- identical resubmission of a previous bid to DASA or MOD without modification
- minor improvements on existing high TRL technologies (unless it is being applied in a novel way to the challenge)
- demonstrations of off-the-shelf products requiring no experimental development (unless it is being applied in a novel way to the challenge)
- proposals which offer no real long-term prospect of integration into defence and security capabilities
- proposals with no real prospect of out-competing existing technological solutions
- kinetic or explosive based solutions such as mines, direct fire or indirect fire weapons
- remote controlled solutions or fully manned systems with no form of autonomous control
- systems and technologies that will have a severe logistic burden
- solutions designed to stop aerial threats including drones
- solutions using working animals
- solutions which contravene International Humanitarian Law (IHL) restrictions on the use of victim actuated explosive devices
It is important that over the lifetime of DASA competitions, ideas are accelerated towards appropriate end-users, to enhance capability. How long this takes will be dependent on the nature and starting point of the innovation. Early identification and appropriate engagement with potential users during the competition and subsequent phases is essential.
All proposals to DASA should articulate the development in TRL of the output over the lifetime of the contract and how this relates to improved operational capability. For this competition it is envisaged that proposals will start at a minimum of TRL 2. The deliverables in your proposal (especially the final demonstration) should be designed to provide evidence that you have reached the intended TRL by the end of the contract. The final demonstration should evidence that full development of the solution would indeed provide improved operational capability to the user.
Subsequent phases, if applicable, will focus on TRL >3. The evidence generated during Phase 1 should support the development of your potential bid for Phase 2, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for possible collaborators to identify the innovative elements of your proposal in order to consider routes for exploitation. It is important right from the start that DASA and end-users understand how your idea will deliver longer term improvements to defence and/or security capability and how it could be integrated with other relevant capabilities. Therefore, you may wish to include some of the following information, where known, to help the assessors understand your exploitation plans:
- the intended defence and/or security users of your final product and whether you have engaged with the end-users or their procurement organisation
- the current TRL of the innovation and where you realistically think it will be by the end of this phase
- awareness of, and alignment to, any existing end-user procurement programmes
- the benefits (for example, in cost, time, improved capability) that your solution will provide to the user
- whether it is likely to be a standalone product or integrated with other technologies or platforms
- expected additional work required beyond the end of the contract to develop an operationally deployable commercial product (for example, ‘scaling up’ for manufacture, cyber security, integration with existing technologies, environmental operating conditions)
- additional future applications and markets for exploitation
- wider collaborations and networks you have already developed or any additional relationships you see as a requirement to support exploitation
- requirements for access to external assets, including Government Furnished Assets (GFA), for example, information, equipment, materials and facilities
- how you intend to demonstrate the outputs at the end of this phase, what form the demonstration would take and whether it will require any special facilities (for example, outdoor space, specific venue)
- how your product could be tested in a representative environment in later phases
- any specific legal, commercial or regulatory considerations for exploitation
5. How to apply
Proposals for funding to meet these challenges must be submitted by midday 8 November 2018 via the DASA submission service for which you will be required to register.
The initial funding of up to £1 million is expected to fund around 10 proposals. Proposals must be less than £150k cost to DASA (although you may choose to use additional funds from elsewhere to meet the challenge). Any proposals received that are in excess of £150k cost to DASA will be automatically deemed non-compliant. We recommend that suppliers place their applications in the range of £50k to £150k. If successful, Phase 1 contracts will be awarded for a duration of 6 months.
Additional funding for subsequent phases to increase TRL further towards exploitation is anticipated to be available. Any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted Phase 1 successful bids.
Further guidance on submitting a proposal is available on the DASA website.
5.1 What your proposal must include
The proposal should focus on this proof-of-concept phase but must also include a brief outline of the next stages of work required for exploitation.
When submitting a proposal, you must complete all sections of the online form, including an appropriate level of technical information to allow assessment of the bid and a completed finances section.
A project plan with clear milestones and deliverables must also be provided. Deliverables must be well defined and designed to provide evidence of progress against the project plan and the end-point for this phase.
Please ensure you project has a clear deliverable at 3 months so we can separate payments in this Financial Year (FY) (18/19) from next FY (19/20).
A resourcing plan must also be provided that identifies, where possible, the nationalities of those proposed Research Workers that you intend working on this phase. In the event of proposals being recommended for funding, the DASA reserves the right to undertake due diligence checks including the clearance of proposed Research Workers. Please note that this process will take as long as necessary and could take up to 6 weeks in some cases for non-UK nationals.
You must identify any ethical / legal / regulatory factors within your proposal and how the associated risks will be managed, including break points in the project if approvals are not received. Further details are available in the DASA guidance.
In addition, requirements for access to Government Furnished Assets (GFA) must be included in your proposal with information on how you intend to access them and any steps you have already taken to achieve this. Completed proposals must comply with the financial limit for this competition which has an upper limit of £150k per proposal. Proposals will be rejected if the financial cost exceeds this capped level.
Proposals must include costed participation at the following two DASA events:
- a collaboration event
- a demonstration event
Both events will be held in the UK.
Failure to provide any of the above listed will automatically render your proposal non-compliant.
5.2 Public facing information
A brief abstract will be requested if the proposal is funded. This will be used by DASA and other government departments as appropriate, to describe the project and its intended outcomes and benefits. The abstract will be used at DASA events in relation to this competition and placed on the DASA website, along with your company information and generic contact details.
5.3 How your proposal will be assessed
All proposals will be checked for compliance with the competition document and may be rejected before sifting or full assessment if they do not comply. In addition, we may undertake a pre-sift of proposals based on the competition scope and the standard DASA assessment criteria.
Proposals will then be assessed against the standard DASA assessment criteria by subject matter experts from the MOD (including Dstl), other government departments and front-line military commands. You will not have the opportunity to comment on assessors comments.
DASA reserves the right to disclose on a confidential basis any information it receives from bidders during the procurement process (including information identified by the bidder as Commercially Sensitive Information in accordance with the provisions of this competition) to any third party engaged by DASA for the specific purpose of evaluating or assisting DASA in the evaluation of the bidder’s proposal. In providing such information the bidder consents to such disclosure. Appropriate confidentiality agreements will be put in place.
Further guidance on how your proposal is assessed is available on the DASA website.
After assessment, proposals will be discussed internally at a Decision Conference where, based on the assessments, budget and wider strategic considerations, a decision will be made on the proposals that are recommended for funding.
Proposals that are unsuccessful will receive brief feedback after the Decision Conference.
5.4 Things you should know about DASA contracts
Funded projects will be allocated a Technical Partner as a technical point of contact. In addition, the DASA team will work with you to support delivery and exploitation.
Deliverables from DASA contracts will be made available to MOD, front-line commands, and may be subject to review by relevant government departments.
The full-rights outputs of funded work may be exposed to international government partners. This is to promote international collaboration and to give projects the best chance of exploitation through exposure to a larger scope of requirements. This will only be done under the protection of existing inter-governmental memoranda of understanding.
6. Phase 1 dates
|Dial in||Tuesday 9 October 2018 (morning)|
|Pre bookable 1-1 telecom sessions||Tuesday 9 October 2018 (afternoon)|
|Competition closes||Thursday 8 November 2018 at midday|
|Contracting||Aim to start contracts by end of December 2018 and end 6 months later in June 2019|
6.1 Supporting events
- Tuesday 9 October 2018 (morning) – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
- Tuesday 9 October 2018 (afternoon) – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the Eventbrite page.
Competition queries including on process, application, technical, commercial and intellectual property aspects should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the competition title.
While all reasonable efforts will be made to answer queries, DASA reserves the right to impose management controls if volumes of queries restrict fair access of information to all potential suppliers.