Low-Cost Approach for Improved Performance of the Upper Section of the Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording Sonobuoy
Navy SBIR 2018.2 - Topic N182-097
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick - donna.attick@navy.mil
Opens: May 22, 2018 - Closes: June 20, 2018 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Low-Cost Approach for Improved Performance of the Upper Section of the Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording Sonobuoy


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Electronics, Materials/Processes


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 3.5 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 low-cost approach for improving the performance of the Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording (DIFAR) sonobuoy upper section. The DIFAR sonobuoy upper section consists of all components above the lower compliance.

DESCRIPTION: The majority of the current DIFAR AN/SSG-53G components are based on 1970’s (or older) technology. Adding capability to the existing DIFAR sonobuoy is limited due to lack of space available in the sonobuoy. Improved DIFAR sonobuoys would implement existing miniaturized technology, have improved reliability, and leave more space available for improvements in the lower portion (hydrophones and transducers) of the DIFAR sonobuoy. The new technology will cost less than the existing technology due to conversion to a digital-based system and running most functions based on algorithms. One small sonobuoy’s cost reduction would be magnified by the 50,000 DIFAR sonobuoys purchased each year. This SBIR topic only addresses building a new upper portion of the sonobuoy. (Note: A separate SBIR topic under the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will build new lower portion with improved transducers and hydrophones to provide improved detection range capability.) The integration of the upper portion with lower portion will be accomplished after completion of the Phase II contract. While consideration may be given to concepts that may compromise performance for non-critical requirements, full Production Sonobuoy Specification (PSS) compliance for the current AN/SSQ-53G DIFAR sonobuoy is greatly preferred. The following are the minimum requirements for a new DIFAR sonobuoys upper portion (all components above the lower compliance):

- The stack height of the upper section is limited 15 inches or less
- Integration of the miniature NATO transceiver
- Miniaturize upper electronics
- Sonobuoys settings should be programmed via UHF after sonobuoy deployment
- Employ a high-strength cable pack
- Will not require a Sonobuoy Launch Canister for deployment

The proposer should consider novel approaches for improvements and form factor, including height stack and weight as well as cost and performance improvements. The overall PSS will be provided to the awardees of Phase I contracts for this SBIR topic. Compatibility and form factor are requirements.  A limited set of specifications is provided below and they are fully explained in the PSS:

- The sonobuoy components must have a five-year shelf life
- Shock 50g (100g for base plate)
- Vibration
- Salt Fog Atmosphere
- Accelerated Temperature -68°F to 131°F
- Altitude 40,000ft at -68°F for 3 hours
- Fungus
- Thermal Shock
- Electromagnetic Radiation
- Environmental Exposure
- Launch Envelope
- Aircraft Compatibility
- Storage Compatibility
- Launch temperature -4°F to 131°F
- Sea Environment
- Operating Life
- Electromagnetic Interference Control
- Air Decent Control
- Scuttle
- Buoy Operating Depth 45 to 1,000 ft
- Operating life up to 8 hours
- Compatible UHF/VHF characteristics
- Passive Acoustic
- Safety Compatibility
- Environmental Compatibility

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 NAVAIR 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: Design and develop a new DIFAR sonobuoy upper section. Validate and demonstrate feasibility of this concept or approach for further development in Phase II. Prepare plans for a prototype to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Finalize Phase I design and fabricate and demonstrate a new DIFAR sonobuoy upper section prototype. Develop a conceptual factory design that includes at least a few key manufacturing methods prototyped to prove that true lower cost, 5% - 10% cost reduction, can be achieved. Provide an updated analysis demonstrating specification compliance and a detailed cost analysis for the new DIFAR sonobuoy upper section. Integrate the new upper section with ten (10) existing DIFAR sonobuoys and conduct testing. Successfully test five (5) of the ten (10) full up DIFAR sonobuoys in a relevant environment and deliver five (5) of the ten (10) DIFAR sonobuoys with any modifications required for successful follow-on Government testing.

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: Harden the new DIFAR sonobuoy upper section, conduct testing in relevant environment, and develop design for manufacturing. Develop low-rate initial production prototypes for follow-on Government testing. Successful technology development would benefit underwater oil and gas equipment operation monitoring.


1. Holler, R.A., Horbach, A.W., and McEachern, J.F. “The Ears of Air ASW – A History of U.S. Navy Sonobuoys”. Navmar Applied Sciences Corporation, 2008.

2. D'Spain, G., et al. “Vector Sensors and Vector Sensor Line Arrays: Comments on Optimal Array Gain and Detection”. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120, 171 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1121/1.2207573

3. Sherman, C.H., and Butler, J. "Transducers and Arrays for Underwater Sound.” Springer Science+Business Media, 2007. IBSN:978-0 -387-32940-6

KEYWORDS: Passive Sonobuoy; Anti-Submarine Warfare; ASW; Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording; DIFAR; AN/SSQ-53G



These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2018.2 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2018.2 BAA SBIR pre-release on April 20, 2018, which opens to receive proposals on May 22, 2018, and closes June 20, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET.

Between April 20, 2018 and May 21, 2018 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. During these dates, their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is not allowed starting May 22, 2018
when DoD begins accepting proposals for this BAA.
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