High Bandwidth Towed Array Modem
Navy SBIR 2018.1 - Topic N181-045
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: January 8, 2018 - Closes: February 7, 2018 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: High Bandwidth Towed Array Modem


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PEO IWS 5.0, Next Generation Towed Arrays

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 5.4.c.(8) of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop a high-bandwidth modem for Next Generation Towed Arrays that meets bandwidth, form factor, power consumption, and environmental operating requirements.

DESCRIPTION: Next Generation Towed Arrays will increase mission capability and provide improved acoustic capability with innovative sensors such as multi-axis accelerometers capable of providing instantaneous Left and Right ambiguity resolution and increased array bandwidth. This will provide full spectrum coverage with a single line array vice multiple arrays. Implementing a new modem provides the increased bandwidth to the submarine signal path without the need for a fiber optic signal path.  This is a significant reduction in acquisition costs in comparison to overhauling the entire submarine signal path to fiber optics. A signal path overhaul of the submarine Fleet would require tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. The Next Generation Towed Arrays will have significant production potential.

Current commercial modems do not meet requirements for Next Generation Towed Arrays. A successful solution requires an innovative approach that will meet the design requirements for Next Generation Towed Arrays. Next Generation Towed Arrays will need to pass bidirectional data between the arrays and shipboard array receivers. This will require a high-bandwidth modem. Current towed arrays modems use a transmission path of 200 to >4000 feet of 50ohm cable between the array and the array receiver.  This signal path has a number of connections where the impedance is not controlled, which can alter the signal integrity. A successful solution would be able to transmit with impedances that are not controlled.  Current array modems use bandwidths up to 50 Mbps.  Future arrays modems will use this same signal path but will be required to be scalable in transmitting up to 225 Mbps.

In addition to data transmission requirements, the new modem needs to meet thin line towed array environmental form factors (such as temperature, pressure related to depth, and seawater corrosion) and power consumption requirements.  This will require the modem to fit into a 0.75-inch diameter cylinder with a length of 5.25-inches and consume less than 5W of average power.  The modem will be required to operate at industrial temperature ranges and a pressure up to 1125 psig. The modem must be able to survive at pressures up to 2,500 pounds per square inch, gauge (psig).  The Navy will benefit from a high-bandwidth modem to support improved acoustic capability provided to the submarine fleet in the Next Generation Towed Array program.

The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access.  The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information.  If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a high-bandwidth modem for Next Generation Towed Arrays that must show that the modem can feasibly meet the requirements in the description. Establish the feasibility through analysis and modeling of the technology.  The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Based on the results of the Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW), design, develop, and deliver a prototype high-bandwidth modem that clearly demonstrates that it meets the parameters in the description. The Navy will conduct independent functionality and environmental testing of the prototype. Demonstration will take place at a Government-provided facility. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy production and potential commercial use.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Assist the Government in transitioning the high-bandwidth modem for Next Generation Towed Arrays for Navy use within a Towed Array for the submarine fleet to allow for further experimentation and refinement. The implementation of the modem will integrate Towed Array components with the modem components to show a fully functional modem.

A high-bandwidth Towed Array modem would be of great interest to the seismic oil exploration industry.  It would support development of higher fidelity seismic arrays and improve beamforming/processing capability.  Current arrays do not require a modem but will likely require one in the future.  These high-fidelity arrays would increase survey speeds (and thus reduce costs) for sub-bottom mapping in oil exploration and other water-borne geophysical applications.


1. Strangio, Christopher. “Data Communications Basics.” CAMI, 2016. http://www.camiresearch.com/Data_Com_Basics/data_com_tutorial.html

2. Lemon, S. G. "Towed-Array History, 1917-2003." IEEE Journal of Oceanic Engineering, Vol. 29, No. 2, April 2004, pages 365-373. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/1315726/

KEYWORDS: Next Generation Towed Array; High Bandwidth Modem; Multi-axis Accelerometers; Signal Path; Future Arrays Modems; Small Form Factor.


These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2018.1 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2018.1 BAA SBIR pre-release on November 29, 2017, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2018, and closes February 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET.

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