Will Submarine-Hunting Sonobuoys Be Next to Leach onto the Drone Frenzy?

by Richard Sterk, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Guardian maritime with sonobuoy capability.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Guardian maritime with sonobuoy capability.

The SSQ-955 HIDAR, produced by Ultra Electronics, first made inroads into the sonobuoy market through its ability to combat the ambient noise levels of coastal waters. This feature made it an attractive item for littoral conflicts.  Also, the SSQ-955’s several adaptable variants and low to average cost are features that could motivate budget-conscious defense departments to procure the system and award replenishment contracts. 

No production orders have been identified in the past few years, but replenishment contracts from the U.K. Royal Navy cannot be ruled out, as, at the least, the batteries of its current systems will soon need to be replaced.

It has recently been reported that Ultra Electronics is developing miniaturized sonobuoys that can be launched from aerial drones.  For this effort, Ultra is said to be using the technology base of its SSQ-955 G-size sonobuoy, which is much smaller than the standard A-size unit.

However, other than as an exercise in technology development, it begs to be asked, “What’s the point?”  Piloted maritime patrol aircraft, such as the P-8A Poseidon, are already fitted to carry sonobuoys of any size.  In the event that the plane can’t get to the scene fast enough, sonobuoys can be “launched” from helicopters, which these days are practically standard equipment on any decent-size warship.  Barring that, the sonobuoys can even be thrown off the back of a ship’s dingy if need be.  There’s no need to jump on the media’s darling of the moment, the drone, and pump resources into fulfilling a requirement that has already been met.

Please feel free to use this content with Forecast International and analyst attributions, along with a link to the article. Contact Ray Peterson at +1 (203) 426-0800 or via email at ray.peterson@forecast1.com for additional analysis.


FI’s eight Electronic Systems Market Intelligence Services cover the full range of defense-related systems and programs in the radar, communications, electro-optical, and electronic warfare markets, presenting a comprehensive market outlook for current equipment as well as new systems being developed as the modern battlefield moves toward a technology-based warfare approach with network-centric capabilities.

Forecast FI Logo