DOD SBIR 24.2 Annual

Release Date
April 17th, 2024
Open Date
May 15th, 2024
Due Date(s)
June 12th, 2024
Close Date
June 12th, 2024
Topic No.


DIRECT TO PHASE II: Modernized Sonar Transmit Electronics


Department of DefenseN/A


Type: SBIRPhase: BOTHYear: 2024


The Department of Defense (DOD) is seeking proposals for the topic "DIRECT TO PHASE II: Modernized Sonar Transmit Electronics" as part of the SBIR program. The Navy branch is specifically interested in developing an architecture for modernized digital transmit electronics to power future hull-mounted acoustic arrays within the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 sonar system. The current transmit electronics for the AN/SQS-53C have reached end of life and need to be modernized. The Navy desires prototype transmit electronics that can transform digital waveforms into voltage signals at individual TR-343 transducers while fitting within the existing analog power transmit capability. The project duration is divided into phases, with Phase I focusing on developing a concept and architecture, and Phase II involving the development and delivery of a prototype. The final Phase II report should include a design for scaling the prototype to accommodate a full AN/SQS-53C transducer set. The technology developed under this effort has potential applications in commercial sectors such as the oil and gas industry. The project is open for proposals until June 12, 2024, and more details can be found on the website.


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Integrated Sensing and Cyber; Microelectronics


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 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: Develop an architecture for modernized digital transmit electronics to power future hull-mounted acoustic arrays within the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 sonar system.


DESCRIPTION: Sonar systems that include active sonar transmissions rely on transmit electronics to provide power to the transducers that produce sound in the ocean. Put simply, a transducer performs the transformation between an electrical signal in volts (V) and a physical quantity such as displacement of the head at the end of a stack of piezo-electric ceramics. Transmitters transform volts into amps (A) and vice versa.


The AN/SQS-53 hull mounted sonar array is a large bulb-like structure built into the bows of ships below the water line. Ships fitted with AN/SQS-53 include U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, Ticonderoga-class cruisers, and select Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers. The AN/SQS-53 hull-mounted sonar has a nominal source level of 235 decibels (dB) re 1 µPa and transmits at a center frequency of approximately 3 kHz. The AN/SQS-53 includes 576 TR-343 transducer tube assemblies arranged in staves of 8 transducers every 5 degrees azimuthally. Each TR-343 transducer assembly is capable of a) active acoustic transmit or creating noise (or sound pressure level) in response to voltage from the transmit electronics and b) passive acoustic detection or detecting incoming pressure changes and transforming that pressure into voltage to be sent to the transmit electronics.


The current transmit electronics for the AN/SQS-53C which perform the transformation between voltage and amps for both active acoustic transmit and passive acoustic detection consists of three racks of analog electronic components to support the 576 transducers in the AN/SQS-53C. These analog electronic components have reached end of life and must be modernized to support ongoing maintenance and future acquisition of new systems.


The Navy desires prototype transmit electronics that can transform the digital waveforms into voltage signals at individual TR-343 transducers to accommodate the requisite displacement of the ceramic assembly associated with active and passive acoustic functionality at the nominal source level and center frequency. There is nothing available commercially that can accomplish the required transformation. The prototype transmit electronics must be scalable to support the entire set of 576 transducers while fitting within the space, weight, and power (SWaP) envelope associated with the existing analog power transmit capability. The SWaP and notional full rate production cost targets are:

• Space: 3 transmit cabinets, each with height of 76”, width of 21” and depth of 22”

• Weight: 2000 lbs. for all three cabinets, not to include cable runs extending beyond the transmit cabinets

• Power: TBD

• Full Rate Product Cost (FY24 dollars): Not To Exceed $2.5M per transmit electronics assembly

Innovation is anticipated to handle the current AN/SQS-53C source levels using digital transmit electronics as well as make the design extensible to future hull arrays with transducers that may utilize either textured ceramics or single crystal ceramics. Innovation is also anticipated to meet the Grade A shock requirements, which equates to the system remaining functional for any shock conditions where crew would remain alive to continue use of the AN/SQS-53C hull array.


PHASE I: For a Direct to Phase II topic, the Government expects that the small business would have accomplished the following in a Phase I-type effort and developed a concept for a workable prototype or design to address, at a minimum, the basic requirements of the stated objective above. The below actions would be required in order to satisfy the requirements of Phase I:

• A concept for modern digital transmit electronics that is clearly extensible to a TR-343 transducer.

• A notional architecture to support the conclusion that the proposed digital transmit electronics could fit within the SWaP of the current analog transmit electronics associated with the AN/SQS-53C.

• Documentation describing completion of an experimental proof of concept (a manufacturing readiness level (MRL) of 3).

• Explanation of how the company could ramp up production to support acquisition of full transmit electronic units within a year of completion of the Phase II effort (4 years after award of the Phase II base).


FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in participating in Direct to Phase II must include in their response to this topic Phase I feasibility documentation that substantiates the scientific and technical merit and Phase I feasibility described in Phase I above has been met (i.e., the small business must have performed Phase I-type research and development related to the topic NOT solely based on work performed under prior or ongoing federally funded SBIR/STTR work) and describe the potential commercialization applications. The documentation provided must validate that the proposer has completed development of technology as stated in Phase I above. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Work submitted within the feasibility documentation must have been substantially performed by the offeror and/or the principal investigator (PI). Read and follow all of the DON SBIR 24.2 Direct to Phase II Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Instructions. Phase I proposals will NOT be accepted for this topic.


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 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq., National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) formerly Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances. This will allow contractor personnel to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DCSA and NAVSEA 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 during the advanced phases of this contract IAW the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM), which can be found at Title 32, Part 2004.20 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Reference: National Industrial Security Program Executive Agent and Operating Manual (NISP), 32 U.S.C. § 2004.20 et seq. (1993).


PHASE II: Develop and deliver prototype transmit electronics that can support a representative segment of an AN/SQS-53C hull array, nominally 7 staves of 6-8 transducers. The government will review the design before the awardee acquires design-specific components. The government will also work with the awardee to conduct tests of appropriate collections of prototype transmit electronics (e.g., examples to demonstrate reliable performance with a single transducer, assemblies that can manage a representative stave of 6-8 transducers, and finally that the full prototype that can handle at least 5-7 staves of transducers (20-30 degrees of azimuthal coverage)).


The final Phase II report shall contain a design for how the prototype can be scaled to accommodate a full AN/SQS-53C transducer set and the associated SWaP plus the full rate production cost estimated for the full transducer set.


Work under Phase II is anticipated to include at least discussion of classified information. A DD254 will be issued approximately 2 months after Phase II award to enable classified discussion between the government and the awardee.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Assist the Navy in transitioning the transmit electronics by a) a full engineering demonstration model (EDM) of the modernized transmit electronics for a full AN/SQS-53C array and b) low rate initial production of the company’s modernized transmit electronics. Provide services associated with test and evaluation of the EDM and LRIP transmit electronics to include environmental qualification testing (EQT) appropriate for Grade A Shock.


The Navy anticipates that the technology developed under this Phase II effort can also be used to provide acoustic transmit electronics for active sonar systems used for exploration by commercial sectors such as the oil and gas industry.



Miller, Sarah K. “NSWC Crane Exceeds Significant 50k Transducer-Delivery Milestone, Boosting Undersea Sonar Capabilities for Navy Fleet.” NAVSEA News, 9 Dec 2021.
“AN/SQQ-89(V) Undersea Warfare Anti-Submarine Warfare Combat System.” Navy Fact File, 20 Sep 2021.
“AN/SQS-53 Sonar.” Military Analysis Network, 30 Jun 1999.
“AN/SQS-53C Transmitter Infrastructure, solicitation N00024-18-R-5205.” 26 Jul 2018.


KEYWORDS: Transmit Electronics; Active Acoustic Transmit; Passive Acoustic Detection; Hull-Mounted Sonar Array; transform volts into amps; Grade A Shock