Low-Cost Deployable Structures for Sonobuoy Arrays

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-072
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-072 TITLE: Low-Cost Deployable Structures for Sonobuoy Arrays

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR);Microelectronics


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 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 and demonstrate affordable and reliable high packing ratio deployable structures for advanced sonobuoy arrays to enable future U. S. Naval anti-submarine warfare operations.

DESCRIPTION: The Department of the Navy (DON) seeks to develop and demonstrate reliable deployable structures for highly capable volumetric acoustic arrays from compact air-deployed canisters. These arrays require stability once deployed with the sensor elements having predictable and repeatable spacing to allow optimal system array performance. The deployable structures should be acoustically quiet and transparent and/or not interfere with any acoustic nodes that may be placed on the structure. Sonobuoy deployable arrays are deployed from patrol aircraft or helicopters and need to meet all the requirements of production sonobuoys. The deployable structures need to be able to reliably deploy even after resting up to five years on the shelf. The deployable mechanisms need to fit within the confines of the A-size sonobuoy (18" x 5") and expand to a cylindrical array up to 6,100x the original volume all while holding ~100 sensor nodes. The lifetime of these systems once deployed should be no more than a day and the overall cost of the deployment system should be less than $500.

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 Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and ONR 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 advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop a conceptual design for the proposed component(s) and its integration into a chosen deployable array. Phase I awardees will be granted access to specifications of production sonobuoys. Conduct a conceptual design review of the analysis and results of Phase I work. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Develop and test a prototype for the key components of the proposed approach. Complete preliminary performance testing in a surrogate environment such as a large tank or lake test facility. Report the results of testing and analyze the expected performance for the reference mission.

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: Integrate the technology using the prototype fabricated in Phase II. Conduct a demonstration to examine mission performance under nominal operating conditions. Based on the results, analyze performance in a variety of suboptimal environments and conditions.


  1. "All Products from Sonobuoy Tech Systems." https://www.sonobuoytechsystems.com/products/.
  2. Filipov, Evgueni T. et al. "Origami tubes assembled into stiff, yet reconfigurable structures and metamaterials." PNAS, October 6, 2015 112 (40), pp. 12321-12326. https://www.pnas.org/content/112/40/12321.
  3. Cavallaro, P.; Hart, C. and Sadegh, A. "Mechanics of Air-Inflated Drop-Stitch Fabric Panels Subject to Bending Loads." NUWC-NPT Technical Report #12,141, 15 August 2013. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267596423_Mechanics_of_Air-Inflated_Drop-Stitch_Fabric_Panels_Subject_to_Bending_Loads.
  4. Smith, Hillary. "Deployable Composite Booms (DCB)." NASA, Aug 27, 2020. https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/game_changing_development/projects/dcb.
  5. Holler, Roger; Horbach, Arthur and McEachern, James. "The Ears of Air ASW." Navmar Applied Sciences Corp., Warminster PA, 2008. https://www.worldcat.org/title/ears-of-air-asw-a-history-of-us-navy-sonobuoys/oclc/720627294.

KEYWORDS: Undersea sensor; deployable array; sonobuoy


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).

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