General Dynamics to upgrade COTS signal-processing equipment on U.S. Navy submarines

April 20, 2015
WASHINGTON, 20 April 2015. Submarine sonar experts at General Dynamics Corp. are providing new-generation commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer equipment for sonar signal processing aboard U.S. Navy submarines.
WASHINGTON, 20 April 2015. Submarine sonar experts at General Dynamics Corp. are providing new-generation commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computer equipment for sonar signal processing aboard U.S. Navy submarines.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $47 million contract Friday to the General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems segment in Fairfax, Va., for Multipurpose Processor (MPP) engineering services and Total Ship Monitoring Systems (TSMS) production.

Both systems are part of the Navy's longtime Acoustics-Rapid COTS Insertion (A-RCI) program to integrate and improve towed array, hull array, sphere array, and sonar signal processing with COTS hardware and software on Ohio-class missile submarines as well as on Los Angeles-, Seawolf-, and Virginia-class fast attack submarines.

The MPP is a multi-array interface receiver that provides signal conditioning for received array signals; data processing; digital formatting of data; beam formation; and signal processing for A-RCI display data.

The TSMS, meanwhile, monitors and localizes the submarine's own noise sources including transients, so onboard sonar systems can compensate for it and improve its ability to detect and identify sound emissions from other submarines ad surface ships. The TSMS feeds its data to the MPP.

Related: Navy awards sonar processing contract to General Dynamics; readies for next phase of A-RCI

General Dynamics sonar experts will build MPP and TSMS hardware, as well as upgrade software and hardware. The company also will build and test production kits, as well as maintain, and upgrade production systems and advanced signal processing.

This technology upgrades involves the Technology Insertion 16 (TI-16) increment of the A-RCI program. The A-RCI TI-16 sonar program involves vast improvements in acoustic sensing by using the latest commercially developed digital signal processing technology to enhance submarine sonar performance without changing the actual sonar sensors aboard submarines.

A-RCI is designed for the quick replacement of commercially developed computer processing equipment for sonar systems to mitigate the effects of technology obsolescence and to take advantage of the latest available equipment.

This technology insertion will be among the last involving the MPP and TSMS. These two sonar processing subsystems soon will be replaced in the A-RCI architecture with the Common Acoustic Cabinet (CAC) and Ownship Monitoring System (OMS).

The CAC is the next generation array-processing cabinet and will replace the MPP. CAC constitutes the next generation of array-processing that provides capability upgrades via rapid insertion of COTS-based hardware and non-developmental item (NDI) technology.

Related: General Dynamics to build multi-level-security Common Display Systems for Navy ships and aircraft

The CAC will upgrade signal processing capability and permit reconfiguration necessary to support processing data from several acoustic and array sensors. CAC will be delivered as government-furnished equipment (GFE) to the A-RCI program for system integration, testing and shipboard installation. The OMS will replace the TSMS with COTS and NDI products. Like the CAC, the OMS will be delivered as GFE to the A-RCI program.

A-RCI is an open architecture sonar system that Navy officials intend to maintain an advantage in acoustic detection of threat submarines, using legacy sonar sensors. The program regularly refreshes central processors with COTS computer technology and software. A-RCI processors handle data from the submarine’s spherical array, hull array, wide aperture array, high-frequency arrays, and towed arrays.

An open-systems architecture makes the most of commercial processing development, and enables submarine signal processing systems to use complex algorithms that Navy-developed sonar systems such as the AN/BSY-1 and AN/BSY-2 systems could not use.

Using COTS technology enables onboard computing power to grow at nearly the same rate as commercial industry, and facilitates regular updates to submarine sonar-processing software and hardware with minimal disruption to submarine scheduling, Navy officials say.

On this contract General Dynamics will do the work in Fairfax, Va., and Pittsfield, Mass., and should be finished by March 2019. For more information contact General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems online at, or Naval Sea Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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