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BAE Systems wins DARPA contract for Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communication & Approach

Naval Industry News - USA
BAE Systems wins DARPA contract for Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communication & Approach
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded BAE Systems a $4.6 million contract for its Mobile Offboard Clandestine Communications and Approach (MOCCA) program. The MOCCA program’s goal is to enable submarines to detect other submerged vessels at greater distances, while minimizing the risk of counter-detection.
BAE Systems MOCCA Submarine DARPA ASWBAE Systems image.
“Advances in maritime technology are critical to the Department of Defense and an area where the U.S. military can continue to strengthen its advantage,” said Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems. “With the resurgence of near-peer competitors and an increasing number of submarines, MOCCA technology will provide Navy submariners with a vital asymmetrical advantage against a rapidly proliferating undersea threat.”

To meet the MOCCA program’s ambitious Phase 1 goals, BAE Systems’ researchers will design efficient sonar capabilities to maximize detection range and improve target identification and tracking.

The MOCCA program demonstrates BAE Systems’ strength in innovation and its capability to design technologies for future combat scenarios. The research and development team at BAE Systems regularly works closely with DARPA and other defense research institutes to create and deliver capabilities that improve the competitive advantages of the U.S. armed forces.

About the MOCCA Program:
The MOCCA program seeks active sonar solutions that will mitigate the limits of passive submarine sonar sensors. The objective is to achieve significant standoff detection and tracking range through the use of an active sonar projector deployed offboard a submarine and onboard an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV). The submarine will need the ability to coordinate the operational functions of the supporting UUV. Thus, the program must also demonstrate the ability to achieve reliable clandestine communications between the host submarine and supporting UUV without sacrificing submarine stealth.

The MOCCA program has two key technical challenges:

1) Development of an active sonar system, which includes a small form factor active sonar projector suitable for UUV operations and bi-static active sonar processing.

A small UUV is disadvantaged as a host for an active sonar projector. The volume available for the projector is highly constrained which makes high-output transducer materials a necessity. At the same time, the UUV is energy-limited, so the projector must be as energy-efficient as possible. Relatively long-range ensonification is required, so the ability to focus the projected acoustic signal in a direction of interest is needed to provide additional effective source level at the cost of a requirement to scan the sonar to produce the needed coverage. The goal is to produce practical and flexible designs for the projector that can be scaled formultiple vehicles and deployment options.

Bi-static sonar processing advancements are needed in the area of reverberation and clutter rejection as well as precision localization capability. The system will be operated in bottom limited acoustic environments. Sound that is projected will be scattered, producing reverberation and signal loss. Scattered sound may inadvertently illuminate the host submarine and possibly compromise stealth. For this reason, detailed and accurate predictions of the acoustic environment are important to manage the sonar and potential exposures.

2) Design and implementation of a secure and reliable communications link to provide positive control of a UUV operating at a significant distance from its host submarine

The communications link between the host submarine and the UUV will be used to control the UUV and its sonar payload, and to communicate information generated on the UUV back to the host platform. The MOCCA system will be used during an engagement, so proper control of the UUV is critical. Link throughput, delay, and reliability trades should consider the need for reliable operation during combat. An ideal link would have a low probability of intercept and of exploitation and provide high link reliability. The MOCCA communications link cannot degrade submarine stealth.