Industry experts to develop deep sonar technology to detect quiet hostile submarines

SAN DIEGO-Undersea surveillance experts at two U.S. defense researchers are developing technology for an extremely deep-operating, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) system to help protect U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and their support vessels from quiet enemy attack submarines.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) in Arlington Va., and Applied Physical Sciences Corp. (APS) in Groton, Conn., are developing configurable technology to provide ASW surveillance over large deep-ocean areas in which potentially hostile submarines might be hiding. The two companies are working on the Deep Sea Operations (DSOP) program of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va. In March, SAIC won a $9.5 million U.S. Navy contract and APS won a $15.2 million contract from officials of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego on behalf of DARPA.

SAIC and APS are working on the DSOP program's Phase 1b, Phase 2, and Phase 3 segments. Experts from the two companies will design a system architecture, define sensors and sensor processing, and define the large sensor system's communications mobility and energy requirements.

SAIC and APS will define developmental sonar systems for large-area coverage, significant fractional hold time, low operational cost, and other deep-sea ASW capabilities, with an emphasis on deep-ocean platform mobility. Navy fixed-site undersea sensor systems today include the Fixed Distributed System (FDS) and the Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS), which are used in ocean choke points in the Caribbean as well as the straits between Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom (GIUK Gap).

The DSOP program seeks to use deep-sea areas known as the sound fixing and ranging channel that exists at ocean depths below about 3,000 feet where the water is cold, silent, and dense, and where the speed of sound is at its slowest. Conditions in these areas act as a sound waveguide that enables low-frequency sound waves to travel for thousands of miles. DARPA wants SAIC and APS to develop sensors that look upward through this acoustically silent environment to detect the low-frequency sounds of enemy submarines against a quiet background at long ranges.

DARPA experts assume that deep-ocean areas are particularly advantageous for sound navigation and ranging technologies (sonar) yet will accept non-acoustic solutions. Goals include the ability to achieve long-range detection and classification of submarines; the means to communicate underwater over long distances; and the ability to manage electrical energy to operate in hostile deep-ocean conditions for long periods. Technologies could result in sensors that operate near the ocean bottom; take advantage of distributed nodes; can be configured to a range of operations and environments; and adapt to the mobility of submarines and surface warships.


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