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Non-Traditional Airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) System


RT&L FOCUS AREA(S): General Warfighting Requirements


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Design and develop a non-traditional airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) system capable of detecting modern quiet submarine targets from high altitude aircraft.

DESCRIPTION: Detection of operational modern-day submarines is becoming increasingly complex due to advances in submarine technologies. Acoustic signature detection is the traditional method in use today. For fixed-wing aircraft, those systems employ expendable sensors - sonobuoys - to enable detection of the submarine’s acoustic signals. The Navy would like to explore alternate, non-traditional concepts that overcome the detection limitation, in order to expand the tools available to operating forces and develop potentially more robust systems. 

The principal fixed-wing ASW aircraft in operation today is the P-8 Poseidon. Any new approaches to airborne ASW will eventually require compatibility with that airframe. Also, the acoustic sensors used today are expendable devices. Testing will include hardware in-the-loop or laboratory modeling. Finally, any new approaches should not be considered a replacement for existing systems but as a supplement to expand airborne surveillance capabilities to detect those submarines, surfaced or submerged, with enhanced covert technology.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop and demonstrate feasibility of a non-traditional concept for an airborne ASW system that detects targets through exploitation of novel target/environment interactions. Consider the operating platform’s capabilities and limitations for guidance for the overall and ultimate system proposed. Provide sufficient detail to identify the concept (e.g., history, components, effects, hardware). The Phase I effort will also include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Identify critical technology areas requiring validating experimental data. Working with the Navy, define testable hypotheses and identify test equipment and geometries necessary to collect the critical data, which could also involve analysis of any existing data, building software/hardware fabrication, and potential laboratory experimental measurements. Demonstrate the prototype system and perform analysis as applicable.

Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in Description paragraph.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Complete final testing and perform necessary integration and transition for use in ASW and countermine warfare, counter surveillance, and monitoring operations with appropriate current platforms and agencies, and future combat systems under development. Commercially this product could be used to enable remote environmental monitoring such as in oil, gas and mineral industries, and in geophysical survey, facilities, and vital infrastructure assets.


  1. Moser, P. “Gravitational Detection of Submarines.” Warminster, Naval Air Development Center, 1989.  
  2. Skolnik, M. “A Review of NIDAR.” Naval Research Laboratory, Washington DC, 1975.  
  3. Stefanick, T. “The Nonacoustic Detection of Submarines.” Scientific American, 1988, pp. 41-47.   
  4. Wren, G. and & May, D. “Detection of Submerged Vessels Using Remote Sensing Techniques.” Australian Defence Force Journal, 1997, pp. 10-15.  
  5. Godin, O.A. “Anomalous transparency of water-air interface for low-frequency sound.” Physical Review Letters, 97(16), 164301, 2006.
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