Ultra Electronics to develop sonobuoy prototype to detect and identify extremely quiet enemy submarines

July 22, 2020
Advanced new sonobuoy is expected to offer passive detection at tactically significant ranges to detect and identify extremely quiet submarine targets.

ARLINGTON, Va. – U.S. Navy researchers needed a company to develop enabling technologies for a new advanced air-deployed passive sonobuoy able to detect, identify, and track new generations of extremely quiet enemy submarines. They found their solution from Ultra Electronics Ltd. in Columbia City, Ind.

Officials of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, Va., announced a $28.3 million contract to the Ultra Electronics UnderSea Signal Systems segment on Monday to develop a sonobuoy, known as Extended Range Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording (ER-DIFAR).

This system will be a replacement A-size sonobuoy that measures 36 inches long, 5.25 inches in diameter, and weighs 39 pounds. This new sonobuoy should offer passive detection at tactically significant ranges to detect and identify extremely quiet submarine targets.

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A government conceptual hydrophone array design will serve as the basis for maturing the sonobuoy design, as well as for developing and demonstrating a prototype.

Ultra Electronics engineers will seek to deploy the prototype from an A-size package; develop automatic precise localization of hydrophone elements on the hydrophone array; and build an in-buoy signal-processing for beam-forming and communicating data to a receiving system.

Included will be an upper float, communications and GPS receiver, and surface suspension for motion isolation of the upper assembly from the array. A lower electronics section will have power for the sonar hydrophone array, telemetry, beamforming, and signal processing hardware with sufficient processing power to run software developed and provided by the Navy.

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Ultra Electronics will integrate components into an A-size sonobuoy and demonstrate the ability to achieve air launch certification, water entry, and array deployment in an at-sea demonstration.

The cost of manufacturing the sonobuoy in small numbers is a key objective. A-size sonobuoy packaging imposes severe restrictions on the size of hydrophone, which must be non-developmental.

For more information contact Ultra Electronics Undersea Signal Systems online at www.ultra-electronics.com, or the Office of Naval Research at www.onr.navy.mil.

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