Navy lays out $203.7 million to boost stockpiles of sub-hunting aircraft-deployed sonobuoys

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 18 Oct. 2016. U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) experts are replenishing their supplies of air-launched sub-hunting sonobuoys that offer a variety of capabilities ranging from taking the temperature of ocean layers at different depths, to detonating submerged explosive charges.

Oct 18th, 2016
Navy lays out $203.7 million to boost stockpiles of sub-hunting aircraft-deployed sonobuoys
Navy lays out $203.7 million to boost stockpiles of sub-hunting aircraft-deployed sonobuoys
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 18 Oct. 2016. U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) experts are replenishing their supplies of air-launched sub-huntingsonobuoys that offer a variety of capabilities ranging from taking the temperature of ocean layers at different depths, to detonating submerged explosive charges.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $203.7 million contract Monday to ERAPSCO Inc. in Columbia City, Ind., for as many as 141,500 AN/SSQ series sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

Sonobuoys enable Navy ASW forces to detect, track, and pinpoint potentially hostile submarines operating in the open ocean and in coastal areas that could be threats to Navy carrier battle groups or other forces. Information from these systems can help enable precision attacks with air-launched torpedoes.

Monday's order consists of as many as 6,000 AN/SSQ-36 sonobuoys; 95,000 AN/SSQ-53 sonobuoys; 15,500 AN/SSQ-62 sonobuoys; 10,000 AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys; and 15,000 AN/SSQ-125 sonobuoys.

Navy fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters can drop a pattern of sonobuoys, which relay information back to the aircraft by radio link, to determine the exact locations of enemy submarines.

Related: Boeing to build 20 P-8A submarine hunter maritime patrol aircraft in $2.5 billion order

The AN/SSQ series of sonobuoys consists of the SSQ-36 bathythermograph (BT); SSQ-53 passive directional low frequency analyze and record (DIFAR); SSQ-62 directional command active sonobuoy system (DICASS); SSQ-101 air deployed active receiver (ADAR); SSQ-110 multi-static non-coherent source; and SSQ-125 multi-static coherent source.

Of this series, only the SSQ-110 multi-static non-coherent source sonobuoys were not part of the order.

The AN/SSQ-36B provides vertical temperature profiles of the ocean layer for ASW and research, and used widely in ASW operations to evaluate local effects of seawater temperature on sonar propagation and acoustic range prediction.

The AN/SSQ-53F uses four hydrophones -- each one a multichannel directional piezoelectric ceramic transducer -- that operate at depths of 90, 200, 400, and 1,000 feet to listen for potentially hostile submerged enemy submarines. Aircraft can drop a pattern of sonobuoys, which relay information back to the aircraft by radio link, to determine the exact locations of enemy submarines.

The SSQ-53F has three sensors: a constant shallow omni (CSO), an advanced DIFAR sensor, and a calibrated wideband omni. The buoy digitally conditions and amplifies the acoustics and provides directional data that helps establish azimuthal bearing to the submarines being tracked.

Related: Navy makes order of submarine-hunting sonobuoys for helicopters and patrol aircraft

The AN/SSQ-62E DICASS sonobuoy is for detecting and localizing submarines in preparation for attack. I can provide range and bearing to the target to fix position, and can support any of the four acoustic frequencies as selected via the Electronic Function Select.

The AN/SSQ-101 ADAR sonobuoy provides a commandable passive search capability, and functions as the receiver in a multistatic active receiver system. The device uses a pentagon-shaped horizontally oriented pattern of hydrophones to detect and beamform underwater sound waves.

The AN/SSQ-125 sonobuoy is a source in a multistatic field, and can generate a variety of waveforms, and is designed to work with the AN/SSQ-53F, AN/SSQ-77C, and AN/SSQ-101 (ADAR) sonobuoys.

Related: Navy taps Undersea Sensor Systems for advanced submarine-hunting sonobuoys

The AN/SSQ-125’s RF channel can be programmed to any of the standard sonobuoy operating channels. At any time after deployment, the AN/SSQ-125 can be commanded to change its operating parameters or depth (deeper only), generate a ping, or scuttle.

ERAPSCO operates as a joint venture between the Sparton Corp. Defense & Security segment in Le Leon Springs, Fla., and Ultra Electronics USSI in Columbia City, Ind. Ultra also is developing miniature sonobuoys designed for launch from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The company will do the work on this contract in DeLeon Springs, Fla. and Columbia City, Ind., and should be finished by October 2019. For more information contact ERAPSCO online at http://erapsco.com, Sparton Defense & Security at http://sparton.com, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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