Multi-Sensor Sonobuoy
Navy SBIR 2019.2 - Topic N192-060
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick -
Opens: May 31, 2019 - Closes: July 1, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Multi-Sensor Sonobuoy






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 an A-size passive multi-sensor sonobuoy with non-acoustic and acoustic sensors that allow simultaneous data collection of all sensors on targets of interest.


DESCRIPTION: The Navy needs improved detection ranges and capabilities in passive A-size (4.875” Dia. X 36” length) sonobuoys. The production sonobuoy specification will be provided to the Phase I performers. Today’s acoustic ranges are getting shorter against newer quieter targets and improved passive capability is needed to meet the Air Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions performed with sonobuoys. The use of non-acoustic sensors has the potential advantage of maintaining covertness while having an increased detection range in noisy littoral waters (as well as in quieter deeper waters) that gives a classification capability.


The Navy seeks development of non-traditional methods to package and deploy e-field and magnetic sensor sets along with an acoustic sensor using the A-size sonobuoy form factor. The intent is to ultimately have a prototype A- size sonobuoy with the non-acoustic detection performance equivalent to, or greater than, that of passive acoustic detection performance. This sonobuoy must be able to deploy the non-acoustic sensor elements to sufficient apertures to enable useable detection similar to or greater than those of typical passive acoustics. The non-acoustic sensor modes augmented with the passive acoustics should enhance and increase the target detection capability and range of today’s standard passive sonobuoys. The e-field sensor must produce electromagnetic signatures in the x, y, and z axis from the underwater objects. The ability to enable the collection of simultaneous e-field, magnetic, and acoustic data for analysis by the Navy to determine the tactical advantages of using non-acoustic and acoustic data fusion detection on targets of interest is also desired. Experiments and analysis have shown that e-field measurements are generally clutter-limited, as opposed to thermal sensor noise-limited. The production sonobuoy specification will disclose these details.


The key performance objectives of this multi-sensor mode sonobuoy are as follows: 1. Package and deploy from an A-size sonobuoy. 2. Minimum aperture for e-field sensor pairs is 20 feet working toward greater than 50 feet (Objective). 3. Operational Life is a minimum of 4 hours working toward greater than 8 hours (Objective). 4.

Detection ranges needs to be equivalent to or greater than (Objective) acoustic detection ranges on targets of interest for a typical AN/SSQ-53G sonobuoy. 5. Develop adaptive filtering techniques with a Threshold of 3 dB improvement and an Objective of 6 dB improvement. This design effort must consider the design for manufacturing and production cost implications during the Phase I and Phase II efforts. The cost Threshold for this buoy is less than $15K each in quantities of 100 with a cost Objective of less than $10K each in quantities of 100. Adaptive filtering techniques should be designed to be implemented into existing sensor processors on the P-8A aircraft. The production sonobuoy specification will disclose these details.


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 a combination e-field, magnetic, and acoustic sonobuoy that can be packaged in an A-size sonobuoy and includes all components of the sonobuoy such as the surface unit, the cable and suspension system, the power source, and the lower unit air descent hardware. (Note: While use of components from existing sonobuoys is acceptable, there will be necessary form factor changes to fit all components into an A-size sonobuoy.) Conclude the complete packaging and deployment approach that will be pursued and the appropriate analyses and top-level drawings in Phase I. Include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.


PHASE II: Finalize Phase I design and fabricate and demonstrate a new multi-sensor sonobuoy prototype, including the development, demonstration and validation of real-time adaptive filtering and fusion techniques. Provide an updated analysis demonstrating specification compliance and a refined production cost estimate. Fabricate and demonstrate five (5) full up multi-sensor sonobuoy prototypes in an at-sea relevant environment to be identified by the government, such as the U.S. Navy SCI test range using ship towed e-field and magnetic sources to simulate

targets of interest.


Develop and implement adaptive filtering techniques for cancelling e-field background clutter interference, algorithms that utilize e-field/magnetic/acoustic data fusion, and demonstrating basic efficacy and real-time feasibility via simulation and application to measured data sets. Consider full dimensional space-time adaptive filters as Objective, along with strategies for estimating the requisite interference statistics in real time [Ref 3].


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 multi-sensor sonobuoy, 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. REFERENCES:

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: Warminster, PA, 2008. history-of-us-navy-sonobuoys/oclc/720627294


2.  Trees, H.L.V. et al. “Detection, Estimation and Modulation Theory. Part I.” New York: Wiley, 1968.


3.   Guerci, J.R. “Space-Time Adaptive Processing for Radar, 2nd Edition.” Norwood, MA: Artech House, 2014.


KEYWORDS: Passive Sonobuoy; Anti-Submarine Warfare; ASW; E-field Sensors; Magnetic Sensors; AN/SSQ-53



Catherine Tadlock





Arne Anderson





Don Russo





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