Navy Funds BD&E to Develop COBRA Multi-Spectral Illuminator (More)

Bodkin Design & Engineering (BD&E) has been awarded the first round of a $1.5 Million SBIR Phase 2 contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a power-efficient illuminator for nighttime operations of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system.

The innovative COBRA Multi-Spectral Illuminator will provide broadband light with sufficient illumination for the COBRA camera to operate under all light conditions.

The mission of the AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system is to conduct unmanned aerial tactical reconnaissance in the littoral battlespace for detection and localization of minefields and obstacles in the surf zone and beach zone prior to an amphibious assault.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout (Image courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
The MQ-8C Fire Scout (Image courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

The COBRA airborne payload is carried on the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned air system, which keeps operators and personnel at a safe distance.

This allows operators and other personnel to remain at a safe distance from the mine and obstacle belts and enemy direct and indirect fire.

COBRA will also be embarked in the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as part of the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Mission Package (MP).

By permitting nighttime operation the developed technology will increase the number of hours the COBRA system can be deployed, thus reducing overall operational costs.

System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and ground test methods over the required range of landscapes and scenes.

Bodkin Design plans to finish all three phases of development, which includes definition and qualification of the illuminator elements, prototype construction, lab testing, and manned flight testing.

The entire project is scheduled to be completed in September 2018.

(Learn More. The Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout is an unmanned autonomous helicopter developed by Northrop Grumman for use by the United States Armed Forces. Courtesy of wcolby, Joe Bishop and YouTube)


  • COBRA began as a Marine Corps advanced technology program in the 1990s and transitioned to an acquisition program.
  • In 2004, the COBRA program was transferred to the Navy as the detection capability for the Assault Breaching Systems (ABS).
  • Milestone B for the initial increment of COBRA (Block I) was awarded in 2005.
  • In 2009, COBRA Block I met all criteria to proceed into the Production and Development Phase.

The COBRA program uses incremental development to meet the overall assault mine and obstacle reconnaissance requirements.

  • Three initial increments (blocks) of development are planned with each introducing new or enhanced capabilities.
  • COBRA Blocks II and III are in Concept Refinement and Technology Development.
  • The COBRA Block I system is comprised of two airborne payloads, the post mission analysis station and the Tactical Control System (TCS) segment for the MQ-8B Fire Scout mission control system (MCS).
  • The MCS, utilizing the TCS software, is used to plan the flight tracks required for the COBRA mission, monitor the mission and reprogram the flight path, if necessary.

This project is funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program (SBIR), a program established by the Small Business Administration Office to ensure that the nation’s small, high-tech, innovative businesses are a significant part of the federal government’s research and development efforts.

Bodkin Design and EngineeringBodkin Design and Engineering, provides concept development, prototype design/build, and engineering services, serving the international OEM, commercial, military, and research communities.

BD&E specializes in electro-optic and mechanical systems and has overseen the successful introduction of products ranging from miniature infrared cameras to breaking systems for railroad cars.