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Undersea Signal Processing

The program's goal is to develop signal processing algorithms that improve the Navy's ability to detect, identify and locate submarines in shallow and deep ocean environments. To this end, the Office of Naval Research funds basic and applied research projects at universities, federal laboratories and industry. We organize and manage our portfolio by technical thrusts:

  • Active sonar signal processing: Projects focus on active sonar systems for wide area surveillance, distributed search and battle-group defense.
  • Passive sonar signal processing: Projects focus on signal processing algorithms that detect, classify and locate modern diesel-electric submarines at tactically useful ranges.
  • Fundamental research initiatives: This program supports basic research in statistical and ocean acoustic signal processing projects conducted at universities throughout North America.

Research Concentration Areas

The Undersea Signal Processing program aims to improve the Navy’s ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare by exploiting active and passive acoustics. Signal processing technology of special interest this year is as follows:

  • Active Sonar Signal Processing Fundamental Research
    • Feature development for clutter characterization and clutter versus target discrimination
    • Sonar automation algorithms for high duty cycle sonar systems
    • Application of advanced machine learning techniques for improved active sonar automation
    • Artificial intelligence for next-generation active sonar automation
    • Signal and information processing technologies which exploit in situ environmental knowledge
  • Passive Sonar Signal Processing Fundamental Research
    • Basic research in statistical signal processing
    • Basic and applied research in machine learning theory, accounting for the unique challenges of sonar signal processing. New features and reduced algorithm complexity with high-detection probabilities and low false alarm rates are of particular interest.
    • Optimal combination of information produced by disparate sensors, integration times, bandwidths and ranges
    • Computationally efficient implementation of signal processing algorithms
    • Tools to assist operators search and manage large acoustic databases and streaming data
    • Long-term association, classification, tracking and localization of intermittent contacts

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Basic research advancing the state-of-the-art of modern detection and estimation theory
  • Emerging topics in signal processing theory and methods. Recent examples include co-prime sampling theory, signal processing on graphs and cognitive sonar concepts. Projects in emerging topics are low-level efforts exploring the potential Navy value of new classes of algorithms—not large projects aimed at demonstrating proof-of-concept with operational data.
  • Automatic surface ship classification at long ranges
  • Advancements in multi-sensor contact association, including exploitation of external information sources, automatic detection and correction of incorrect associations, theoretical performance bounds, and methods that leverage existing classifiers, tracker and association capabilities
  • Computationally efficient implementations that reduce processing hardware and memory footprints

Call for Fiscal Year 2022 White Papers

Our Call for Fiscal Year 2022 White Papers is here: Fiscal Year 2022 White Papers

How to Submit

For detailed application and submission information for this research topic, please refer to our broad agency announcement (BAA) No. N00014-22-S-B001.

Contracts: All white papers and full proposals for contracts must be submitted through FedConnect; instructions are included in the BAA.

Grants: All white papers for grants must be submitted through FedConnect, and full proposals for grants must be submitted through; instructions are included in the BAA.


Tague, John Dr.
Program Officer
Code 321