Navy details project to develop new submarine towed-array sonar

WASHINGTON, 4 Aug. 2005. U.S. Navy leaders are launching a fast-turnaround program to develop a new towed-array sonar system for advanced submarines that could yield several industry contracts by the end of this year.

Aug 4th, 2005

By John Keller

WASHINGTON, 4 Aug. 2005. U.S. Navy leaders are launching a fast-turnaround program to develop a new towed-array sonar system for advanced submarines that could yield several industry contracts by the end of this year.

Specifically, the Navy is asking industry for new, innovative ideas for submarine twin- and multi-line towed array sonar systems that provide increased gain over current fast attack-class thin-line towed systems.

The Navy's program executive office of integrated warfare systems (PEO IWS) in Washington has a broad agency announcement on the street entitled Advanced Towed Array Technologies that outlines the program. The federal solicitation number is N0002405NR451.

Industry sonar designers should consider arrays that approximate the acoustic performance of the TB-29-series towed-array sonar and the TB-33 fiber optic thinline sonar system (FOTL), Navy officials say. System array gain should be greater than current single-line arrays, and should be useable at higher frequencies than current TB-29/33 systems.

Navy experts say they are looking for towed arrays with greater than 95 percent operational availability over a submarine deployment.

The sonar system's inboard electronics designs should involve multiple arrays, coherent array processing, automated left-right ambiguity resolution, adaptive spatial and temporal processing, automated noise measurement, steerable nulls, and automated ranging.

Inboard application software must be able not only to cope with, but also take advantage of, array curvature and positions other than straight and parallel, Navy officials say.

The system should have sufficient trackers to handle expected contact loads, and contact followers to support trackers. Tracker performance must be able to follow several crossing contacts without loss or confusion, and should be able to as much as 100 hours of element level data. The system must support replay of recorded events.

Navy officials say they want a towed-array sonar system that not only costs less $4 million apiece -- including recurring costs and installation -- but also that yields technology applicable to other antisubmarine warfare ships, submarines, and aircraft.

The Navy's primary objective, officials say, is to acquire readily transferable technologies that offer substantial increases in array gain, reliability, and survivability in coastal waters and harbors -- the so-called "littorals."

The Navy is encouraging proposals that involve teaming of academia, industry, and government laboratories to develop new and innovative concepts and speed their transition to the fleet.

First, the Navy wants interested companies to submit white papers that outline ideas for submarine twin- and multi-line towed array sonar systems no later than 15 Sept. 2005. Based on these white papers, Navy officials will invite fully priced proposals due by 7 Nov. 2005. The Navy plans to award several contracts to develop and demonstrate prototype sonar systems by 23 Dec. 2005.

For questions or more information, the Navy's contracting point of contact is Travis Gordon, whose phone number is 202-781-3645, and e-mail address is travis.gordon@navy.mil.

Submit information proposals to Gordon care of Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command, ATTN: Code 0254, Travis Gordon, 1333 Isaac Hull Ave., S.E. Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC 20376.

More information on the project is online at http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2005/07-July/27-Jul-2005/FBO-00854131.htm

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