Northrop Grumman teams with Clear Align on optical acoustic systems

BERWYN, Pa., 14 Sept. 2005. Clear Align LLC in Berwyn, Pa., is teaming with the Northrop Grumman Corp. Navigation Systems Division in Woodland Hills, Calif., to develop new submarine and underwater fiber optic acoustic sonar and surveillance lasers.

By John Keller

BERWYN, Pa., 14 Sept. 2005. Clear Align LLC in Berwyn, Pa., is teaming with the Northrop Grumman Corp. Navigation Systems Division in Woodland Hills, Calif., to develop new submarine and underwater fiber optic acoustic sonar and surveillance lasers.

The companies are developing fast optical switching techniques to reduce the costs and improve reliability of current submarine systems.

The program on which the companies are collaborating is the Fiber Optic Conformal Acoustic Velocity Sensors (FO-CAVES), which seeks to develop optical fiber sensors for submarines and for port security.

FO-CAVES technology is to replace ceramic hull-mounted sensors and towed sonar sensor arrays on submarines with a more reliable and maintainable system. This technology is part of the U.S. Virginia-class attack submarine program.

FO-CAVES optical fiber technology has three general applications: anti-terrorism for port and harbor protection, submarine towed arrays, and submarine hull arrays, explains Angelique Irvin, president and chief executive officer of Clear Align.

The advantages of fiber optic sensor for all three technologies include the ability to upgrade performance by upgrading software in a dry easily accessible environment rather than replacing hardware in difficult to reach places outside the hull and in the water, she says.

A ceramic-based towed-array sonar sensor system may have as many as 18,000 components such as joints and connectors, Irvin says. In contrast, an optical fiber system may have no more than 400 components, and fewer mechanical stresses during operations.

For hull-mounted sonar arrays, FO CAVES represents the next technology generation. It has the same performance as ceramic sensors, but is much lighter and maintainable, Irvin says.

"We are pleased to be selected for a program that is critical to U.S. submarine systems performance enhancement" Irvin says . "Together we have made real advances in delivering cutting edge fiber optic acoustic systems."

Clear Align is an optical engineering and systems integration company focused on imaging, sensor and fiber optic technology. For more information contact Clear Align online at www.clearalign.com, or by e-mail at info@clearalign.com.

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