Low Cost, Small Form Factor Scalable Receive Array

Navy SBIR 22.1 - Topic N221-065
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Opens: January 12, 2022 - Closes: February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est)

N221-065 TITLE: Low Cost, Small Form Factor Scalable Receive Array

OUSD (R&E) MODERNIZATION PRIORITY: General Warfighting Requirements (GWR)


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: Apply innovative technology to develop a five-band compact Modular Expansive Spectrum Passive Receiver (MESPR) to address gaps in fielding passive sensor recognition and countermeasure algorithms.

DESCRIPTION: Navy surface ship and submarine probability of survival improves when protected by torpedo defense countermeasure systems. Adversarial weapons are increasing sophistication that requires the Navy to rapidly implement and integrate pace-the-threat technology via the Navyís Technical Insertion/Advanced Processor Build (TI/ABP) process. Traditional receivers perform at a purposed frequency band of specific interest. Legacy system architectures typically do not easily support technology insertions. The Navy has invested in system updates for cost-effective technology insertions. MESPR would directly benefit Surface Ship Torpedo Defensive (SSTD) and submarine torpedo defense programs. MESPR addresses the need to counter technology improvements inherent in threat torpedoes. The innovative technology could be dual purposed to enhance or replace unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) and torpedo sensor suites. The expansive spectrum is comprised of the Super Low Frequency (SLF), Ultra Low Frequency (ULF), Very Low Frequency (VLF), Low Frequency (LF), and Medium Frequency (MF) frequency bands as designated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for radio spectrum designators and bandwidths to include:

  • SLF: 30 Hz-300 Hz
  • ULF : 300 Hz-3 kHz
  • VLF: 3K Hz-30K Hz
  • LF: 30K Hz to 300K Hz
  • MF: 300K Hz to 3,000K Hz

A technology challenge will be to implement MESPR using traditional and non-traditional materials and hardware to achieve efficient transduction across the defined bandwidth. A second technology challenge addresses complex issues related to spectrum detection and correlation across a five-band receiver. A third technology challenge defines a prototype capable of performing while a local host is transmitting broadband and structured energy. To decrease technical risk for modularity and Space, Weight and Power (SWaP), improvements can be incrementally addressed as Phase II and Phase III activities progress. The SWaP of the MESPR prototype must be developed for technology insertion within three inch, four inch, and six inches countermeasure systems. Operational depth of the MESPR is up to 2,000 feet below ocean surface. The MESPR concept must include passive sensor and sensor configurations for sensitive detection with high dynamic range, dynamic array gain, volumetric localization, and beam steering. Traditional and non-traditional sensor and mechanical model and simulation analysis will support the proposed concept to meet the requirements in this Description. Modeling and simulation will address receive sensor and detection degradation caused by flow noise, local coherent signals and interferers. A variety of torpedo defense land-based and at-sea demonstrations may be utilized to assess technology performance and viability.

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 DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency (DCSA), formerly the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract 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 IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Define and identify a feasible concept for the innovative MESPR prototype to demonstrate performance, modularity, and SWaP constraints. Identify candidate sensor and hardware culminating in a modular and compact design approach. Perform modeling and simulation to provide initial assessments of performance and SWaP limitations. Incorporate a Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) electrical to optical Ethernet interface for receipt of command-and-control messages while sending MESPR raw and processed sensor data and hardware status. The development approach will address how compact processing and programmable logic are utilized to locally process sensor receive data. Intelligent hardware must have features to meet Cybersecurity and data protection requirements. Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) components must be in production currently and planned to be in production for a minimum of three years. A hardware obsolescence approach must be addressed in Phase I. Develop a risk adverse approach to incrementally demonstrate MESPR performance, modularity, and cost management. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial layout and capabilities description to implement the concept and approach in Phase II. A final Phase I report for this SBIR effort will identify an innovative and feasible approach for Phase II to demonstrate working prototypes. A schedule will be provided to identify key Phase I and Phase II component and MESPR technology milestones.

PHASE II: Develop the MESPR prototype based on Phase I modeling and analysis, Establish performance parameters through continued modeling, sensor, and hardware experimentation. Construct and demonstrate an operational prototype. Perform performance and environmental evaluation testing of the MESPR prototypes based on the derived performance parameters. Testing will be the responsibility of the executing company, to include static and dynamic testing to assess utility for passive receive sensitivity and directionality across the MESPR band of interest. A functional prototype will be demonstrated in a relevant environment at a Navy facility such as the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Seneca Lake Sonar Test Facility. A prototype will demonstrate temperature thermal cycling, Grade A shock, vibration analysis and cyber resilience. Prepare a technical description document and user guide. Update the schedule prepared in Phase I to identify key Phase II and Phase III technology milestones. Deliver three to five working prototypes for further assessment by the Government. In support of Phase II prototype development and Phase III technology transition, the Navy will identify specific torpedo defense hardware targeted for MESPR integration, test, and demonstration.

It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details).

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Integrate the Phase II delivered MESPR prototypes with Government identified torpedo defense hardware. Identify incremental technology improvements to achieve end goals. Demonstrate MESPR technology improvements through planned prototype updates using lessons learned in Phase II and Phase III. Demonstrate the MESPR technology can be inserted and interoperable with torpedo defensive countermeasures to achieve performance and SWaP objectives. Evaluate three to four Phase III final prototypes for delivery. Support at-sea demonstration from a U.S. Navy platform to assist evaluation of the design in a relevant environment. Technical and logistic documentation will be developed to support technology transition to a PMS415 program of record. The schedule prepared in Phase II will be updated to identify key Phase III component technological milestones and will include a 12-to-24-month technology transition schedule.

A Commercial application of MESPR could support a producer of Autonomous Undersea Vehicles (AUVs). As an example, an AUV could search for a black box from a downed airplane.


  1. Burdic, William S. "Underwater Acoustic System Analysis." Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1991. https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.391242.
  2. Butler John L. and Sherman Charles H. "Transducers and Arrays for Underwater Sound." Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2016.
  3. Brown, Jeremy, A. "Fabrication and performance of a single-crystal lead magnesium niobate-lead titanate cylindrical hydrophone." The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 134, ; https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4812274.
  4. Abdul, Basit. Mastronardi Vincenzo M. and others. "Sensitivity and Directivity Analysis of Piezoelectric Ultrasonic Cantilever-Based MEMS Hydrophone for Underwater Applications." Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 9 October 2020.
  5. Eovino, Benjamin T. "Design and Analysis of a PVDF Acoustic Transducer Towards an Imager for Mobile Underwater Sensor Networks." Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences University of California at Berkeley. Technical Report No. UCB/EECS-2015-154, http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2015/EECS-2015-154.html May 26, 2015.

KEYWORDS: Undersea defensive systems; acoustics; non-traditional sensor materials; sonar signal processing; signal detection; signal localization


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the overall DoD 22.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at rt.cto.mil/rtl-small-business-resources/sbir-sttr/ for any updates.

The DoD issued its 22.1 SBIR BAA pre-release on December 1, 2021, which opens to receive proposals on January 12, 2022, and closes February 10, 2022 (12:00pm est).

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