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Actively Stabilized Drogue Refueling System (ASDRS) demonstration Request for Information

Solicitation Number: N00019-09-RFI-0234
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Air Systems Command
Location: NAVAIR HQ
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Sources Sought
Added: Feb 13, 2009 11:45 am
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is conducting a market survey of Industry via this Request for Information (RFI) to determine potential interested sources who have the skills, experience, qualifications, and knowledge required to successfully and safely demonstrate an actively stabilized aerial refueling drogue for the Aerial Refueling Store A/A42R-1 (P/N 31-301-48310-5) (ARS) in accordance with the objectives/requirements herein. NAVAIR intends to use the information provided in response to this RFI to aid in refining its acquisition strategy, budgeting assumptions, statement of work, and performance specifications for a potential Actively Stabilized Drogue Refueling System (ASDRS) demonstration. The NAICS code is 336413, Aircraft Assemblies, subassemblies, and parts manufacturing.

RFI Content: Any written response to this RFI is requested to be limited to no more than 25 pages (letter size) in length, single-spaced, 12 point font minimum. It is to demonstrate the offeror’s ability to demonstrate a ASDRS for the Aerial Refueling Store A/A42R-1 (P/N 31-301-48310-5) (ARS). If the material provided contains proprietary information, please mark and identify disposition instructions (submitted data will not be returned). The response should include, but is not limited to, the following:

a) A one page company profile to include Small Business Administration (SBA) business size classification, number of employees, Cage Code, DUNS number, NAICS Code, major products, primary customer base, statement on whether your interest in this sources sought is for the purpose of becoming the prime Offeror or to inquire about subcontracting possibilities, and points of contact who are able to discuss the material submitted.

b) A description of the company's past experience and performance of aerial refueling drogue development, and qualification and production and/or past experience in guidance and control systems. This documentation shall address and demonstrate, through prior and/or current experience and understanding of, at a minimum, the following: (1) General aerial refueling requirements, (2) design and development, integration and airworthiness/qualification testing requirements for aerial refueling drogues, (3) relevant navigation, guidance and control sensor and architecture design (4) program management, integration, manufacturing, logistics, and delivery of aerial refueling drogues.

c) A summary of the company’s ability to meet the technical/design, demonstration, tasks, integration and flight testing, and schedule objectives of this RFI. If the objectives can be met earlier than the Government’s anticipated schedule, indicate the achievable dates. In addition, provide feedback on any of the Government’s objectives which may unnecessarily drive schedule and/or cost of the demonstration. Indicate how those objectives may be tailored to make the demonstrations more cost-effective.

d) A description of notional programmatic information including top level schedules and Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM) costs necessary to achieve the program, task and technical objectives of this RFI. Provide ROM costs by fiscal year.

e) Any other technical information the company deems necessary to aid the government in making an informed assessment such as resources available, corporate management, facilities and manning to be assigned to the project, design and systems engineering, design verification, first article and qualification testing; planning, coordinating and conducting tests to prove system performance, and systems integration, manufacturing and delivering hardware.

Other comments and suggestions regarding the Government's course of action and/or alternatives you may offer are encouraged and appreciated.


The purpose of the ASDRS Demonstration is to show the technical maturity of an actively stabilized drogue system for use in probe and drogue aerial refueling operations. Following sufficient build up test flights, this demonstration will culminate in one or more flight tests of the ASDRS as part of the Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS-D) Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) demonstration program. The ASDRS shall be compatible with the current ARS design and operating envelope, including the transfer of fuel, demonstrating system performance and robustness in various probe and drogue (P&D) aerial refueling scenarios.


Award of an ASDRS demonstration program contract is expected 2nd QTR FY 2010, with the goal of successfully completing Safety of Flight/Airworthiness qualification no later than the 4th QTR FY 2011 (earlier is preferred). It is anticipated that the integration asset(s) will be delivered no later than 3rd QTR FY 2011. Following that, the program is expected to successfully demonstrate the stabilized drogue operation with manned F/A-18 receiver aircraft no later than 1st QTR FY 2012 and be ready for demonstration with the X-47B receiver no later than 4th QTR FY 2012. The Government will require the delivery of a Technical Data Package (TDP) to support Flight Clearance in the 2nd QTR FY2011 timeframe.


1) Develop and integrate an Airworthy ASDRS into the existing ARS system on the F/A-18E/F platform that will support both manned and unmanned refueling demonstrations.

2) Demonstrate reduction of drogue motion bandwidth (frequency and amplitude) as compared to a standard drogue at F/A-18 E/F NATOPS representative aerial refueling tracks, altitudes and airspeeds under atmospheric conditions encountered during demonstration. Under these conditions, the ASDRS shall support repeated, successful plugs by surrogate and X-47B receiver aircraft. Moderate turbulence conditions, if not demonstrated in flight, shall be demonstrated via analysis.

3) Demonstrate accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability of the drogue position sensing function relative to the tanker (integrity, continuity and availability are demonstrated by analysis with verification of assumptions via flight test).

4) Demonstrate ability of the drogue stabilization function to hold the drogue relative to a predetermined point (nominally the natural trail point of the drogue), including compensating for biases such as those caused by receiver forebody effects and other disturbances such as turbulence, tanker-induced motion, etc.

5) Support safe and effective demonstration with multiple probe and drogue refueling systems/ operations (manned and unmanned), to include the transfer of fuel with:

• Probe-equipped Navy aircraft (piloted refueling)

• Probe-equipped UAS Surrogate such as an F/A-18 C/D (automatic control refueling)

• X-47B (autonomous refueling)

6) Optional Objectives

• Ability to integrate the ASDRS into other drogue-equipped tanker systems (such as commercial Omega tankers) to support demonstration

• Consideration of stabilization modes for the ASDRS (e.g., inertial vs tanker body stabilization, considerations of wing-mounted systems, compensation for tanker motion)


1) Integration Objectives

a. Adapts to ARS hose end and tailcone (stowage tunnel) without modification to the ARS. Minor modifications to the stowage tunnel (for drogue stowage) and to the ARS exterior (for sensor apertures) may be allowable, if the impact is minimized.

b. Supports integration of the ARS with the F/A-18E/F, including additional data interface and control functions as required to support the demonstration

c. Equivalent aerodynamic performance (drag, stability, extension, retraction) over the same or greater envelope as the current ARS. ARS system shall not require design/performance modifications to incorporate stabilized drogue.

d. Capable of providing relative drogue positioning information at the receiver aircraft via installation of sensors on the receiver aircraft (design capable; not part of this effort)

2) Performance Objectives

a. Design capable of continuous operation – neither mission endurance nor turnaround time shall be limited by power available on the ASDRS.

b. Reduced drogue motion bandwidth to less than 10 cm, 2 sigma at frequencies of 0.7 Hz or less at altitudes of 1500 to 30,000 ft in conditions up to and including moderate turbulence.

c. System availability (via analysis and demonstration) of 98% or greater

d. Maintain constant receiver sight picture

e. Drogue position sensing technique supports Low Probability of Intercept/ Low Probability of Detection.

f. Maintainability and reliability shall be an inherent consideration in the design. Although the demo design is not intended to be production-representative, there shall be a clear path from the demo design to an operational system.

3) Interface Objectives

a. Architecture shall be compatible with manned receiver aircraft and X-47B receiver.

b. Data from drogue position sensing system and integrity information shall support network interface at the tanker for transmission to the receiver

c. External data interfaces support open architecture, non-proprietary data exchanges

d. Design shall meet North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Standardization Agreement STANAG 3447 requirements for the probe/drogue interface

4) Safety Objectives

a. Operation of the ASDRS should reduce probability of failed engagement and drogue fuselage strike for manned and unmanned operations

b. The controlling mechanism and sensor package (actuators, sensor apertures, etc) shall minimize susceptibility to strike/impact damage

c. The ASDRS shall be designed to minimize Foreign Object Debris/Damage (FOD) probability.

d. Integrity to detect when the system should not be used with the control system enabled

e. Integrity to detect when the drogue positioning information is invalid (Performance estimation and Fault detection functions)

f. Capability to be safely used in a system off state for both manned and unmanned receivers.

g. Capability to be used with the position sensing function only (active stabilization disabled)

h. Safe failure/ degraded modes of control system operation

i. Indication shall be made to the external interface (tanker) when the ASDRS system determines the refueling operation should be discontinued.


1) Offeror shall provide design products for, and participate in, a tailored Systems Engineering Technical Review (SETR) process for the ASDRS as part of the overall X-47B AAR demonstration program.

2) Offeror shall provide review of, and input to, an ASDRS system specification for government approval.

3) Systems analysis shall be provided to predict overall system reliability.

4) The Offeror shall develop, conduct and deliver analysis with the necessary models and simulations to characterize the system performance of the ASDRS. Safety of Flight clearance / Airworthiness analysis shall be based on a system model as verified during testing. Analysis should include factors that contribute to drogue instability and the effectiveness of the ASDRS to counteract each of these contributing factors.

5) The Offeror shall provide a six-degree-of-freedom (6DOF) model(s) to support integration with Government analysis tools. The model(s) shall consist of:

a. Drogue aerodynamic model (including hose and hose reel response dynamics as appropriate)

b. Mechanical dynamic model of system components

c. Receiver effects

d. Atmospheric gusts/turbulence

e. Inner loop and outer loop control law model(s) as implemented for the ASDRS.

f. The characteristics of relative state sensing/ positioning functions to include transport delay, output resolution, noise/ error models and geometry (all locations if multiple sensors).

6) The Offeror shall provide system, segment, subsystem, and component level engineering data to support airworthiness certification activities. The Offeror shall assume new and incremental airworthiness certificate(s) and required engineering reviews will accompany major changes in either system configuration or usage envelope.

7) The Offeror shall prepare an Engineering/Data Requirements Agreement Plan and data elements list for flight clearance of the ARS modified with ASDRS aboard an F/A-18 E/F.


1) The Offeror shall support integration of the ASDRS into the ARS and F/A-18E/F to support flight clearance and test/demonstration activities.

2) The Offeror shall support the Government in test and demonstration planning, management, execution and reporting.

3) The Government intends to implement an integrated Government/Offeror test team concept for planning, management and execution of the test and demonstration effort. Consistent with the integrated test team concept, the Government will provide flight test engineering support in the areas of developmental flight test planning and test execution of ASDRS demonstrations. Government test engineers will oversee all ASDRS flight testing.

4) The Offeror will prepare test plans and test reports documenting the ASDRS airworthiness and performance as installed in the ARS aboard an F/A-18 E/F.


1) One Aerial Refueling Store A/A42R-1 (P/N 31-301-48310-5) (ARS) and associated support equipment shall be provided by the Government to the Offeror for ASDRS integration.

2) The Government is responsible for all tanker aircraft, including the F/A-18E/F, to support ASDRS integration and test. This F/A-18 will be equipped by the Government with the Precision GPS and Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) systems used for integration with the X-47B. The Government will provide the ICD for interfacing ASDRS data with the TTNT/PGPS system.

3) The Government is responsible for all receiver aircraft, including surrogates, to support ASDRS testing.


The Government may request an option to obtain a Technical Data Package with Government Purpose License Rights (GPLR) should transition of the concept be desirable after successful demonstration.

Use of modular open systems hardware, open systems interfaces, and open systems software is highly desirable in the system architecture.


To ensure appropriate coordination and integration of work, it is anticipated that an associate contractors agreement (ACA) or like document will be required between the future ASDRS prime contractor and the X-47B prime contractor (Northrop Grumman Corporation).

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Registration in the Department of Defense DoD Central Offeror Registration (CCR) database will be a prerequisite for receiving an award. For more information on the CCR, refer to the CCR website at

RELEASE OF TECHNICAL DATA PACKAGE INFORMATION: This program may include information that has been designated as “Distribution D” and is only releasable to current and approved Department of Defense (DoD) contractors. In addition, the program may require a procurement effort in certain critical technologies/data that are not releasable to foreign firms. Some documents are under Federal export control for “sensitive” or “controlled” technologies regulated by the U.S. Department of State’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) protecting national security. Data may not be exported without an approval, authorization, or license under E.O. 12470 or the Arms Export Control Act. As such, the documents contain data whose export/transfer/disclosure is restricted by U.S. law and dissemination to non-U.S. persons whether in the United States or abroad requires an export license or other authorization.

Disclosure of the control drawings requires the verification of a current license for the oral, visual or documentary disclosure of technical data by U.S. persons to foreign persons as defined under by the U.S. Department of State website.

For any foreign firm, the request must include proof of a current and applicable approval, authorization, or license under E.O. 12470 or the Arms Export Control Act if applicable.

Submission Information: Written responses and comments to this RFI are requested to be submitted no later than 4:00 PM (EST) on TBD to: NAVAIR Lakehurst, Attn: Angela Wilcox, AIR-, Rt 547 B562-3, Lakehurst, NJ 08733, Attn: ARS Drogue. Electronic responses are recommended and encouraged and should be submitted to the following email address:

THIS SYNOPSIS IS SOURCES SOUGHT REQUESTING INFORMATION ONLY. IT IS NOT A REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL. It is a market research tool being used to determine the availability and adequacy of potential business sources prior to determining the method of acquisition and issuance of a Request for Proposal including the use of any appropriate small business programs. The Government is not obligated to and will not pay for any information received from potential sources as a result of this synopsis. This synopsis is for informational and planning purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation for bid or proposals, and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government. The information provided herein is subject to change and in no way binds the Government to solicit for or award a competitive contract.

If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized on the Federal Business Opportunities website located at It is the potential Offeror's responsibility to monitor this site for the release of any follow-on information.
Building 2272
47123 Buse Road Unit IPT
Patuxent River, Maryland 20670
United States
Angela K. Wilcox,
Contract Specialist
Phone: 732-664-7713
Fax: 732-323-2359
Tracy Medford,
Contracting Officer
Phone: 301-757-7045
Fax: 301-757-