BAE aims to help DARPA improve targeting urban enemies

BAE Systems Inc. will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) program to expand the accuracy of geospatial analysis for targeting enemies under a recently awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract worth $7.1 million.

BAE’s National Security Solutions unit, of Burlington, Mass., will work with DARPA’s Urban Reasoning and Geospatial Exploitation Technology (URGENT) Phase II Program to improve human geospatial analysts’ accuracy and productivity through improved state-of-the-art in automated scene analysis, company officials said.

Historically, target recognition has focused on conventional military objects, such as tanks and armored personnel carriers. In many cases, these threats exhibit unique signatures and are relatively geographically isolated from densely populated areas, according to DARPA.

However, today’s threats often are embedded in urban areas, compelling U.S. forces to engage enemy combatants in cities with large civilian populations. Recognition of targets in urban environments poses unique operational challenges for the warfighter.

Even the most common urban objects can have tactical significance. For example, trash cans might contain improvised explosive devices, doors can conceal snipers, jersey barriers can block troop ingress, and rooftops can become landing zones, DARPA said.

BAE’s design concept proposes to improve analytic capabilities by fusing Light Detection and Ranging and Geographic Information Systems’ data to help detect and classify urban geospatial features, officials said.

The goal is to improve analysis of scene content, automatically characterizing an object’s attributes and functions, and sharpening analysts’ expertise using advanced machine training.

The work is to be done in Burlington, Mass., and Los Angeles with an estimated completion date of May 15, 2011. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems, of Rockville, Md., ranks No. 14 on Washington Technology’s 2009Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.