DTRA RFI – Nuclear Test Ban Verification Technologies

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is seeking sources of potential technology, modeling and simulation, and operational improvements to the systems defined by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and subsequently issued technology operations manuals and technical guidance provided out of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization (CTBTO).

The DTRA J9 Nuclear Technologies Directorate and the Nuclear Arms Control and Technology (NACT) Research Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program is charged with improving the verification and reliability capability of the waveform and radionuclide nuclear detonation detection stations comprising the US portion of the International Monitoring System.

The NACT RDT&E program is interested in advancing mature improvements into operational use for the International Monitoring System (IMS), which consists of 321 monitoring stations and 16 laboratories deployed worldwide. The NACT program has responsibilities for the 37 installed and planned IMS stations located in the US and US territories.

The IMS uses four complementary verification methods:

  • Seismic: stations monitor shockwaves in the Earth.
  • Hydroacoustic: stations “listen” for sound waves in the oceans. Sound waves from explosions can travel extremely far underwater.
  • Infrasound: stations on the surface can detect ultra-low frequency sound waves (inaudible to the human ear) that are emitted by large explosions.
  • Radionuclide: stations measure the atmosphere for radioactive particles and noble gases. Only these measurements can give a clear indication as to whether an explosion detected by the other methods was actually nuclear or not. They are supported by 16 radionuclide laboratories.

Seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound (collectively called waveform) stations primarily monitor the underground, the large oceans and the atmosphere respectively. Radionuclide stations detect radioactive debris from atmospheric explosions or vented by underground or underwater nuclear explosions. Radionuclide laboratories assist radionuclide stations in identifying these radioactive substances.

RDT&E submitted to this RFI should target one of the following larger goals:

  • Enable installation of treaty-specified stations cost effectively and reliably in diverse and often harsh environments
  • Improve efficiency, performance, reliability and sustainability of existing stations and treaty-specified verification capabilities
  • Develop improved capabilities to detect, characterize, and discriminate nuclear explosions in support of national goals and objectives

This request for information is limited to applied research, development, test and evaluation concepts that fit within the DoD-defined Technology Readiness Levels one through nine.

Specific topic areas and response instructions are available under Solicitation Number: HDTRA1-NACT-RFI. The deadline is July 25, 2014.

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