Permanent Radio Frequency Transparent AN/SPY-1 Array Cover

Navy SBIR 23.1 - Topic N231-033
NAVSEA - Naval Sea Systems Command
Pre-release 1/11/23   Opens to accept proposals 2/08/23   Closes 3/08/23 12:00pm ET

N231-033 TITLE: Permanent Radio Frequency Transparent AN/SPY-1 Array Cover

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): 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: Develop a permanent Radio Frequency (RF) transparent protective cover for the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 Array Antenna to extend the life of the Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) coating and reduce how often the ship will need to be resurfaced.

DESCRIPTION: Currently, the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 radar arrays are coated with a unique Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) coating. The current RTV coating system must be resurfaced after approximately 9 years of service. The need for resurfacing is based on Material Condition Assessments (MCAs) determining repairs needed in the next scheduled ship availability. MCAs help to identify the type and level of severity of any surface corrosion or water intrusion in the AN/SPY-1 arrays. Commercial products with the combined requirements of strength and RF transparency that meet Navy test requirements for shock and transmission are not available.

Resurfacing requires a highly specialized process to strip and resurface the arrays. The current RTV coating is extremely difficult to apply and application requires special equipment, certification training, and unique talent. On spray day, RTV-157 mixture is applied to the whole AN/SPY-1 Antenna Array face, which consists of an aluminum structure and ceramic waveguide seals (windows). The RTV-157 mixture consists of RTV 157, Heptane, Oxsol 100, and tint. HAZMAT chemicals are used in the RTV 157 mixture to change it to a liquid form to spray on the array face. Chemicals are exhausted out to the atmosphere after a 24 hour cure period. The current AN/SPY-1 array resurfacing process generates a large volume of hazard material waste of approximately four (4) 55-Gallon Drums of Solid HAZWASTE (contains old RTV, rags used for chemical application, gloves, fire retardant paper used to cover the ship hull when applying the RTV) and one (1) 55-Gallons Drum of Liquid HAZWASTE (contains Heptane, Oxsol 100, Ethyl Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol, RTV 157 mixture, tint).

Improper preparation or application of the RTV protective coating can result in reduced service life of the coating and possible radar performance degradation due to RF signal attenuation. Because the RTV is applied directly to the array face ceramic RF windows (i.e., waveguide seals), any coating deterioration can lead to water intrusion, corrosion of the aluminum array face substrate, and degradation of radar performance. Once this occurs, sea water will start to penetrate the Array Nests inside and salt crystal residue will start to form inside. Sea water and RF signals do not mix because sea water behaves optically like a metal. Therefore, the RF signal reflects back when it interacts with sea water. Furthermore, the thin coating of RTV provides virtually no impact protection for the RF windows, which are extremely vulnerable to damage from physical contact (e.g., hail, rogue waves, spent cartridges, etc.).

The AN/SPY-1 array cover must survive a nuclear thermal shock and demonstrate a low coefficient of expansion resulting in minimal mechanical forces transmitted to the array. Government Furnished Information (GFI) on specific nuclear thermal shock requirements will be provided in Phase II in a classified environment. Any generated residue (ash) produced as a result of the thermal pulse must be easily wiped or washed away and any ash generated must not impact RF signal performance.

Navy seeks a permanent RF transparent protective cover for the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 Array Antenna to extend the life of the RTV coating and reduce how often the ship will need to be resurfaced. The permanent covers will be removable for replacement, refurbishment or repairs. Removed damaged covers will be refurbished off-site for the next ship requiring array maintenance. The cover must be designed to encapsulate the array face while allowing access to array alignment points.

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.

All DoD Information Systems (IS) and Platform Information Technology (PIT) systems will be categorized in accordance with Committee on National Security Systems Instruction (CNSSI) 1253, implemented using a corresponding set of security controls from National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-53, and evaluated using assessment procedures from NIST SP 800-53A and DoD-specific (KS) (Information Assurance Technical Authority (IATA) Standards and Tools).

The Contractor shall support the Assessment and Authorization (A&A) of the system. The Contractor shall support the government’s efforts to obtain an Authorization to Operate (ATO) in accordance with DoDI 8500.01 Cybersecurity, DoDI 8510.01 Risk Management Framework (RMF) for DoD Information Technology (IT), NIST SP 800-53, NAVSEA 9400.2-M (October 2016), and business rules set by the NAVSEA Echelon II and the Functional Authorizing Official (FAO). The Contractor shall design the tool to their proposed RMF Security Controls necessary to obtain A&A. The Contractor shall provide technical support and design material for RMF assessment and authorization in accordance with NAVSEA Instruction 9400.2-M by delivering OQE and documentation to support assessment and authorization package development.

Contractor Information Systems Security Requirements. The Contractor shall implement the security requirements set forth in the clause entitled DFARS 252.204-7012, "Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting," and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171.

PHASE I: Develop a concept of installing permanent, removable RF transparent covers over the AN/SPY-1 arrays. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept in meeting Navy needs and establish that the concept can be developed into a useful product for the Navy. Feasibility will be established via computer modeling. The Phase I Option, if exercised, will include the initial design specifications and capabilities description to build a prototype solution in Phase II.

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype permanent RF transparent protective cover for the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 radar array for testing and evaluation based on the results of Phase I. Demonstrate system performance through prototype evaluation and testing, modeling, and analysis. Evaluate results and accordingly refine the prototype concept to ensure that the prototyped hardware clearly shows a path to development of a manufacturable, sea worthy hardened system. The prototype model is to be made available for Government demonstration or testing. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Navy use.

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: Support the Navy in transitioning a permanent RF transparent protective cover for the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 radar array to Navy use. Facilitate transition of a permanent RF transparent protective cover for the AEGIS AN/SPY-1 radar array for sea trials to be demonstrated on a relevant vessel. Participate in a fleet demonstration aimed at transition with the intent to purchase and integrate the system into the US Navy AEGIS Fleet.

With the proliferation of flat panel arrays both in military and commercial radar and communications, high strength RF transparent protective covers will be required to extend service life of the emitter components.





KEYWORDS: AEGIS Arrays; RF transparent Covers; Nuclear Thermal Shock; Radar; AN/SPY-1; Radio Frequency; RF

TPOC-1: William Flores

Phone: (805) 228-7101

Email: [email protected]


TPOC-2: Christopher French 

Phone: (757) 341-8060

Email: [email protected]


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 23.1 SBIR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 23.1 SBIR Topics pre-release on January 11, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on February 8, 2023, and closes March 8, 2023 (12:00pm ET).

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