The U.S. Navy’s Undersea Warfare Combat System Is Getting an Upgrade

An illustration of the AN/SQQ-89 Undersea Combat System 1 photo
Photo: NSWC Crane
We don’t often think about the Navy ships’ sonar capabilities, because they aren’t as flashy as missiles or other types of weapons, but they are an essential part of a ship’s undersea warfare combat system. And a current research project is working on bringing them up to speed with today’s technology.
More than a few nations are building up their naval forces these days and, just like space and the space race, there’s open access to the ocean and more possible threats that can’t be ignored. Added to that, acoustic technology in the automotive and aeronautics industries has been constantly evolving and is now at an all-time high. But, although this is a positive thing, it doesn’t benefit the Navy.

Researchers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) say that on one hand, the sound energy used by the Navy is much bigger compared to what is used in the commercial industry, and at a larger scale, while on the other hand, the Navy represents a very small market niche. These factors add up to the fact that current acoustic technological advancements do not match the U.S. Navy’s needs.

Based on this, NSWC Crane, the Newport Division of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC Newport) and the Pennsylvania State University’ s Applied Research Laboratory (ARL) have teamed up to optimize the Navy’s sonar capabilities, with a focus on undersea sensors.

A sonar (Sound Navigation and Ranging) system is essential for Navy ships and submarines, allowing them to have situational awareness. In the words of the National Ocean Service, sound waves are used to “see” in the water, at a great distance, since they can reach further than light or sound waves. Teams from the 3 institutions are working on modernizing sonar transducers and hydrophones, especially by introducing an innovative class of materials, for Navy applications.

Efforts are currently centered around the TR-343 sonar transducer, part of a complex sonar weapons system that provides additional Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability to the AN/SQQ-89(V). This is the name for the Navy’s fully integrated surface ship undersea warfare combat system, which can search, detect and engage enemy submarines.

Research projects for the TR-343, conducted at the ARL and Crane, will then be integrated into larger systems, with the help of a Technical Design Agent, like NUWC Newport.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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