MSTPA: the MultiStatic Tactical Planning Aid tool developed at NATO STO-CMRE

The MultiStatic Tactical Planning Aid (MSTPA) [Strode 2011] has been developed at NURC with the aim to providing both scientists and operational personnel a powerful, configurable, tool in order to assess the performance of (multistatic) sonar sensor configurations.

The scientific user may explore multistatic sensor performance in a synthetic environment with well-defined bathymetry and sound speed profile. Fast acoustic coverage plots allow for greater understanding of the relative effects of bottom slope and sound speed profile on a candidate sensor configuration.

The operational user may determine expected sensor performance considering real world bathymetry and historical, or measured, sound speed profiles. The ability of the model to cooperate with oceanographic measurements allows for a more realistic range dependent sound speed profile to be considered, hence achieving more realistic sound propagation predictions. This can greatly improve the accuracy of coverage maps and allow for more effective planning of sensor locations.

The tool considers the entire chain of events from an initial calculation of signal excess, the generation of a contact considering localization errors, followed by the subsequent tracking and classification processes. All these processes may be modeled within MSTPA in order to provide a more complete assessment of multistatic operations. In order to provide results in an operational time-scale the acoustic module employs a mode theoretic approach to provide answers of sufficient fidelity in the shortest time possible. The acoustic environment within the model is completely configurable allowing for flat bathymetry iso-velocity cases, or fully range dependent cases. A number of parameters allow for a trade-off between fidelity and processing time.

An ASW workshop was conducted at CMRE within the OpenSea virtual world in 2012. Players were able to control multistatic surface platforms, air assets, and threat submarines in real time in order to demonstrate performance. Multiple MSTPA models were running to provide various tactical and scientific displays throughout the course of the exercise. The real time mode developed for the workshop allows for platforms to be controlled via a simple configuration tool connected to a MSTPA simulation via UDP. This functionality allows for a series of desktop computers running the MSTPA tool to be connected allowing for fast serious gaming experimentation over any network.

The real time functionality of the tool will be further investigated during 2013, where the positions, course, and speed of assets are obtained from an external interface. This functionality will allow operators and scientists to evaluate the performance of multistatic networks and tactics against intelligent and reactive threats –driven/controlled by a human team in the loop. This allows ‘blue’ teams to conduct missions against ‘red’ ones, such that mission tactics can be developed; MSTPA will return realistic contacts, tracks, and classifications to a simulated tactical display. All the actions made during these ‘tactical games’ – to be ‘played’ by experienced sonar users – will be recorded and assessed, and subsequently analyzed, thereby being useful both as a training and tactics generation tool.

[Strode 2011] C. Strode, M. Oddone and M. Leonard, “Development of a real-time multistatic ASW simulation facility at the NATO Undersea Research Centre,” NURC Internal Report NURC-FR-2011-005, Sept. 2011.


MSTPA Editor


MSTPA graphical interface

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