Navy acquires new software for submarine sonar
- By Katherine Owens
- Mar 14, 2017
Navy submarine mine detection and covert tracking capabilities will be strengthened through the procurement of the latest Acoustic-Rapid-Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Insertion (A-RCI) systems, sonar systems designed to take advantage of the rapid pace of commercial software development.
As part of the Technical Insertion-16 (TI-16) program, updated A-RCI software, pre-cable kits, and spare hardware will be provided by Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems through a $100,443,937 contract modification.
According to a report by the Department of Defense, the A-RCI sonar system is used in Ohio-class, Los Angeles-, Seawolf-, and Virginia-class submarines that synthesize data from the submarines’ acoustic hull arrays, sphere arrays, and two towed arrays, called the “fat line array” or the TB-16 and the “thin line array” or the TB-23.
These arrays are acoustic sensory modules attached to the surface of the submarine or towed behind it that feed sonar data to the A-RCI software. The data is delivered to a multipurpose processor that digitally formats and analyzes the sonar data, while other monitoring systems work to refine this data by identifying the acoustic feedback generated by the submarine itself; this distinguishes it from emissions surrounding submarines and surface vessels.
Submarines with A-RCI systems installed are designed to engage in search and tracking missions of other submarines or surface vessels in open water or littoral zones without being detected. They are also able to locate and avoid undersea mines and other obstacles as well as perform under-ice operations. These capabilities render A-RCI systems essential to submarine intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations and secret naval special warfare missions.
The A-RCI TI-16 program is distinctive because it uses commercial, off-the-shelf software and hardware to upgrade submarine sensor processing, which means acoustic performance can be almost continuously improving.
The upgraded A-RCI systems, spares, and pre-cable kits are expected to be fully procured by December 2022. This recent modification of the original 2015 contract is a cost plus incentive fee and cost reimbursement modification, meaning that Lockheed Martin will receive a fee for fulfilling the contract that will increase or decrease depending on whether work is completed within or above the given budget. Funding will come from the FY17 Navy shipbuilding conversion, FY16 and FY17 Navy Other Procurement, and FY17 Navy Operations and Maintenance budget categories, with $40,000 expiring at the end of this fiscal year.
Katherine Owens is a freelance reporter for Defense Systems