Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle Common Deploy and Retrieve System
Navy SBIR 2020.1 - Topic N201-061
NAVSEA - Mr. Dean Putnam - dean.r.putnam@navy.mil
Opens: January 14, 2020 - Closes: February 12, 2020 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle Common Deploy and Retrieve System


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Ground/Sea Vehicles

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS 406, Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office, MCM USV

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: Currently, a common deploy and retrieve system does not exist for towed systems; existing deploy and retrieve systems are specific to the towed body. This SBIR effort aims to develop a common, robust, maintainable, and reliable deploy and retrieve system for Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) to deploy, stream, tow, retrieve, and stow similarly sized (diameter 10.29” to 15.5”) towed systems that may be towed by connection at the nose of mid-body.

DESCRIPTION: The Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Mission Package (MP) has a requirement to conduct minehunting (MH), which is being executed through a capability to tow either the AN/AQS-20C or AN/AQS-24B sonar system. However, towing of each of the tow-bodies current requires different deploy and retrieve systems, due to the different locations of the tow points. Because of this, the AN/AQS-20C and AN/AQS-24B sonar systems have different tow cables; handling requirements, hydrodynamic requirements, and interfaces. The Navy is seeking innovative approaches to develop a common deploy and retrieve system for a variety of towed sonar systems and platforms, including the AN/AQS-20C and AN/AQS-24B sonar systems. These payloads will be the first two sonar systems to be integrated into a common deploy and retrieve system for the MCM USV.

A common deploy and retrieve system will provide additional flexibility in towed sonar choices and procurement options, and lower life cycle costs to the Navy.  The goal is to provide the Fleet with a modular capability to launch and recover towed sensors at a competitive cost. Upon successful demonstration of the deploy, retrieve, and tow capability from an MCM USV, the deploy and retrieve system will be procured as part of the program of record for the MCM USV MH configuration.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a common deploy and retrieve system that will interface with the nose and the mid body of a towed sonar, per the AN/AQS-20C and AN/AQS-24B Interface Control Document requirements. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept through modeling, simulation, and analysis.

The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the development of the initial design specifications and capabilities description for common deploy and retrieve system requirements. The Option will complete with a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) package for delivery to the Navy. Develop a Phase II plan.

PHASE II: Develop a Critical Design Review (CDR) package for the common deploy and retrieve system. Build an operational common deploy and retrieve system prototype to be used to test functionality and validate the physical and logical interfaces. Perform operational testing on the prototype, per AN/AQS-20C and AN/AQS-24B System Requirements Document. Coordinate testing with the Navy to evaluate the system in an at-sea environment. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to the Navy and potentially for commercial use.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology for Navy use on the MCM USV program. Further refine the software and hardware to ensure compatibility with existing interfaces and workstations for evaluation to determine their effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment. Support the Navy for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Navy use. Similar sized sonars are manually deployed from larger boats and are used for sea exploration and other research and development purposes. This deploy and retrieve assembly would allow for use by smaller boats and would enable unmanned, semi-autonomous, operations.


1. "Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV)." The US Navy – Fact File, 02 January 2019. https://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=2100&tid=1400&ct=2

2. "AN/AQS-20A Mine Hunting Sonar System." PEO LCS Fact Sheet, 26 September 2011. https://www.secnav.navy.mil/rda/Documents/AQS-20+20110826+V2.pdf

3. “AN/AQS24B Minehunting Sonar System." The US Navy – Fact File, 08 November 2013. (Uploaded to SITIS 11/XX/2019)

KEYWORDS: MCM USV; Detection of Ocean Mines; AN/AQS-20; Moored Mines; AN/AQS-24; Towed Array