Sonobuoys and Sonobuoy Systems

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Sonobuoys and Sonobuoy Systems

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Sonobuoys and Sonobuoy Systems

For over 70 years Ultra has supplied world-leading sonobuoys for Anti-Submarine Warfare. Passive and active sonobuoys are used for detection, classification and localisation of submarines.

Driven by the increasing challenge to detect modern, quiet submarines, Ultra has developed multistatic search techniques. Multistatic Active (MSA) acoustics uses patterns of active source and passive receive sonobuoys along with advanced signal processing techniques to enhance submarine detection probability and increase area coverage.

Sonobuoy types include: 

  • Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR)
  • High Instantaneous Dynamic range Analysis and Recording (HIDAR)
  • Active Low Frequency Electro-Acoustic (ALFEA)
  • Command Active Multi-Beam Sonobuoy (CAMBS)

And in future:

  • Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR)

Prior to launch, each sonobuoy is set up with the intuitive Autonomous Function Select (AFS) using two buttons and a small display, to set and verify VHF uplink channel, buoy life (hours), transducer or sensor depth and mode (where applicable).

Built-in safety mechanisms prevent activation of the sonobuoy until it has left the aircraft, the parachute has deployed and the buoy has entered the water. These safety features protect operators from inadvertent sonobuoy operation especially in emergency situations such as aircraft ditching. See below for further product information.

Further information can be seen below.

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Sonobuoys and Sonobuoy Systems capabilities & products

Active Low Frequency Electro-Acoustic (ALFEA)
Active Low Frequency Electro-Acoustic (ALFEA) Image

Active Low Frequency Electro-Acoustic (ALFEA)

The Ultra SSQ 926 ALFEA sonobuoy has been designed specifically for use as a high power, low frequency electro-acoustic source for use in multistatic buoy fields.

In conjunction with HIDAR passive receive sonobuoys in a multistatic field, the power and frequency provide exceptional detection and tracking performance even in difficult water conditions such as the littorals and shipping lanes.

Following launch and deployment, the ALFEA sonobuoy transmits status telemetry including GPS location data and can then be controlled by commands transmitted from the aircraft over a UHF radio link.

The sonobuoy can be commanded to increase cable depth and ‘ping’ from a programmable library containing both traditional and novel ping types. The buoy can also be commanded to scuttle when no longer required.

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Command Activated Multibeam Sonobuoy (CAMBS)
Command Activated Multibeam Sonobuoy (CAMBS) Image

Command Activated Multibeam Sonobuoy (CAMBS)

The Ultra SSQ-963D Command Activated Multibeam Sonobuoy (CAMBS) is an A-size, monostatic sonobuoy, combining high-power active transmissions with multiple receive beam-forming to provide highly accurate target range and bearing information for very close tracking and attack.

CAMBS can be commanded by a UHF transmitter to lower the transducer/receiver array in the water, change ping type and scuttle the buoy after use.

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High Instantaneous Dynamic range Analysis and Recording (HIDAR)
High Instantaneous Dynamic range Analysis and Recording (HIDAR) Image

High Instantaneous Dynamic Range Analysis and Recording (HIDAR)

The Ultra SSQ 955 HIDAR sonobuoy combines the world’s best Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording (DIFAR) sensor with an all-digital electronics design in a lightweight G-size package. This combination takes full advantage of digital signal processing to offer a buoy that outputs distortion-free acoustic data with a high dynamic range with superb linearity across an extended acoustic spectrum.

The buoy is ideal for use in high ambient noise conditions, e.g. in coastal environments, heavy rain, or near interfering shipping. The fully digital design also offers fast recovery in transient overload conditions and eliminates composite telemetry distortion when overloaded, making it well suited to acting as a low frequency active receiver for multistatic operations.

The SSQ 955 offers considerable benefits to maritime patrol aircraft, especially those with limited space and payload capacity. Its small, lightweight size is ideal for helicopter operations and larger unmanned air systems. HIDAR Variants available include:

  • SSQ 955A – calibrated buoy for Sound Pressure Level measurement
  • SSQ 955B – equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS)
  • SSQ 955C – coastal Surveillance buoy with low salinity and shallow hydrophone depth settings for ice-edge or estuarine operations

 

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Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR)
Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR) Image

Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR)

The SSQ-906 wideband omni-directional passive surveillance sonobuoy provides a Low Frequency Analysis and Recording (LOFAR) capability in a G-size form factor.

LOFAR uses a sensitive hydrophone array, operating over a broad frequency spectrum, to search for, detect, localise and track submarines passively to maintain the advantage of the hunter over an unalerted target.

The sonobuoy has two variants: SSQ-906G – standard LOFAR; and SSQ-906H – for use in low salinity, shallow water.

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Next Generation Sonobuoys
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G-size ALFEA and Optimised Passive Sonobuoy

Ultra has developed a miniaturised version of the highly successful ALFEA sonobuoys which along with the optimised passive sonobuoy will deliver an increased capability in a G-size package.

The next generation sonobuoys will increase the performance of a multistatic field compared to existing buoys, increasing search area coverage and probability of detection.

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Multistatic Active Acoustic Processing
Multistatic Active Acoustic Processing Image

Multistatic Active Acoustic Processing

The use of sonobuoys for wide area multistatic surveillance transforms the field of airborne sonar, providing a quantum leap in capability. It allows multiple platforms to work together if they have the right processing equipment to operate in the 100Hz to 2000Hz acoustic spectrum.

Ultra and Leonardo have developed the ULISSES acoustic processor which fulfils emerging requirements to increase operational effectiveness of Maritime Patrol Aircraft (rotary & fixed wing) in wide area search.

ULISSES implements multistatic capabilities as well as concurrent processing over a broad sonobuoy inventory, including the latest sonobuoys developed to detect low noise targets.

The next generation of G-size sonobuoys will deliver a multi-static sensor field with increased multi-static active performance compared to current sonobuoys, increasing area search performance for the same probability of detection.

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Sonobuoy Mission Pod (SMP)
Sonobuoy Mission Pod (SMP) Image

Sonobuoy Mission Pod 

The Sonobuoy Mission Pod (SMP) provides an on-demand, role-fit sonobuoy dispenser and optional sonobuoy processing solution for fixed-wing and rotary-wing platforms.

Designed for rapid frontline installation and removal, the SMP attaches to a MIL-STD-2088 weapon hard-point providing for multi-role operation of existing platforms in an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capacity.

The SMP can be used to deploy a multistatic sonobuoy pattern allowing area clearance up to three times faster to the same probability of detection than active dipping sonar.

Available in carriage variants ranging from 24 to 63 sonobuoys, the SMP can be sized to match the payload capacity of small and large platforms. Multiple SMPs can be installed to a single platform to extend sonobuoy payload capacity.

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Aircraft Sonar Locator Beacon (SLB)
Aircraft Sonar Locator Beacon (SLB) Image

Aircraft Sonar Locator Beacon (SLB)

Ultra’s SLB-90 is fully compliant with the latest international Underwater Locator Beacon (ULB) standards.  These include DEF-STAN 00-970 Part 13/11 and AS 6254, meeting the demands of both military and civilian aviation markets.

Activated on immersion in salt or fresh water, the SLB-90 transmits an underwater acoustic signal that can be detected by a suitable commercial  receiver and by Ultra sonobuoys.

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