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SUBSAFE Hull Penetrator for Submarine High Energy Laser (HEL)

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground Sea 

OBJECTIVE: Develop innovative Subsafe hull penetrator technology to connect HEL weapon system subcomponents through a submarine pressure hull to facilitate the inboard/outboard integration of a HEL weapon system on VIRGINIA Class submarines. 

DESCRIPTION: The Navy seeks an innovative solution for integrating High-Energy Laser (HEL) weapon system subcomponents through a submarine pressure hull. Enhanced self-defense and offensive capabilities that could be provided by a HEL weapon system are of interest to the Submarine community. Potential integration approaches that are being investigated to install such a system on a VIRGINIA Class submarine include placing the HEL subcomponents outboard, within the sail enclosure, in which case high levels of supply power would need to be transmitted through the ships pressure hull. In this case the total electrical supply power of about 100kW (threshold) to 300kW (goal) would need to be transmitted through the hull to enable integration of an introductory HEL weapon system capable 30kW output power with a goal to be able to support a future system having 100kW of output power. Alternately, the HEL subcomponents might be split between inboard and outboard (sail) locations with the laser device located inboard and the beam control and beam director being located in the VIRGINIA Class sail, a distance of approximately 30 feet or greater apart. In this case, alternative hull penetrator technologies would include the penetration of either high power fiber optic cables or high power free space beam coupling from the inboard source to an outboard beam director. A single mode fiber optic hull penetrator would need to address fiber optic cables and connectors that can carry very high optical powers (> 3kW per fiber of total 30-100 kW total optical power) over distances of 30 feet or greater while overcoming Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) effects. Likewise, a free space optical penetrator would need to support similar power levels and transmission distances. The innovation required to achieve these options is significant. Current SUBSAFE hull penetrations are generally used with outboard sensors that use significantly less power. The feasibility of a hull penetrator for an HEL application has not been determined. 

PHASE I: The small business will design and develop a concept for research and development opportunities that will transmit electrical or optical power from the inboard to outboard HEL subsystems via a SUBSAFE hull penetrator. The company will demonstrate feasibility of a recommended concept using modeling and simulation and/or limited demonstrations in a laboratory environment. The company must determine that the selected technology can feasibly meet Navy SUBSAFE requirements. Such as Hull penetrator can handle multi kW optical or electrical power per connector and also must meet the Navy Subsafe requirements. The hull penetrator can also be easily maintainable at doc site. A single mode fiber optic hull penetrator would need to address fiber optic cables and connectors that can carry very high optical powers (> 3kW per fiber of total 30-100 kW total optical power) over distances of 30 feet or greater while overcoming Stimulated Brillouin Scattering (SBS) effects. Likewise, a free space optical penetrator would need to support similar power levels and transmission distances. The Phase I Option, if awarded, would include the initial layout and capabilities description to build the unit in Phase II. 

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a SUBSAFE Hull Penetrator for Submarine High Energy Laser prototype for evaluation in a representative submarine environment. The prototype should include a complete concept that incorporates directed energy power transmission from inboard to outboard. A demonstration of the design and verification test in a laboratory environment will be used to verify that key system performance specifications have been met (see requirements in description and Phase I; Optical and Electrical power handling). The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition to Navy use. 

PHASE III: The Company will be expected to support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use. The Company will further refine a full-scale prototype that can be integrated and tested on a submarine platform. Under Virginia class sub acquisition this program will be use to replace the current hull penetrator to support future HEL system. Private Sector Commercial Potential: The innovations developed under this SBIR would be useful in a number of industries such as telecommunication and offshore oil/gas exploration. There are many examples where optical and electrical power transmission is not currently viable undersea for sensors where high power is required. This technology supports submarines, surface ships, unmanned undersea vehicles, petroleum wells and the associated drilling and monitoring processes, undersea cable systems, and high pressure pipeline monitoring. 

REFERENCES: 

1. Military Specification for Connectors, Electrical, Deep Submergence, Submarine (MIL-C-24217); http://everyspec.com/MIL-SPECS/MIL-SPECS-MIL-C/MIL-C-24217A_49807.

2. Military Specification for Connectors, Plugs, Receptacles, Adapters, Hull Inserts, & Hull Insert Plugs, Pressure-Proof, General Specification For (MIL-C-24231); http://everyspec.com/MIL-SPECS/MIL-SPECS-MIL-C/MIL-C-24231D_8423.

3. Undersea Enterprise (USE) Science & Technology (S&T) Strategic Plan, dtd Jan 20, 2010; http://www.ndia.org/Divisions/Divisions/UnderseaWarfare/Documents/USW%20-%202013%20USW%20STOs.pdf.

4. General Atomic: Third-Gen Electric Laser Weapon Now Ready by Graham Warwick; http://aviationweek.com/technology/general-atomics-third-gen-electric-laser-weapon-now-ready.-

 

KEYWORDS: Hull Penetrator; Fiber Optics; Free Space; Directed Energy; High Energy Laser; Subsafe 

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