A sonobuoy is a sound wave sensor equipment deployed in waterways by naval forces. It is a warfare instrument that works on the basic principle of sound navigation and ranging system (SONAR), for detecting underwater bodies such as sunken ships, submarines, and oil and gas deposits. Sonobuoys are carried in canisters called Sonobuoy Launch Container (SLC) found both in aircrafts and ships for free-fall and pneumatic launch.
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Working of a Typical Sonobuoy
A sonobuoy deploys upon impacting the water surface, though, special purpose sonobuoys may operate on task-specific programming. An inflatable component floats on the surface of the water transmitting radio signal for communication with ships and aircrafts, while a stabilizing and hydrophone sensing device descends beneath the surface to a measured depth depending on variables such as search patterns and environmental conditions. The instrument imparts acoustic signals using its hydrophone component via VHF/UHF wireless technology to operators on board ships and aircrafts. The hydrophones also known as transducers converts the sound waves into electrical signals in order to send them to nearby patrolling warships. There are three types of sonobuoy systems used for warfare and non-ware operation — special purpose sonobuoy, passive sonobuoy, and active sonobuoy. It has been noticed that the demand for passive sonobuoy is relatively higher than the other two.
Applications of Sonobuoy
Naval forces use them as anti-submarine warfare systems and to record and listen acoustic signals emitted from foreign submarines. Signals are received using radio transmitters and receivers. A sonobuoy can also measure the depth of a water body using echo sounding technology. Moreover, the equipment is used for conducting geological studies and understanding marine biology. Sonobuoys are used to measure seabed ratios, explore layer composition in the seabed and identify seeps and salt domes.
System Operation Management
The on board technicians and engineers operating sonobuoys incessantly monitor the received signals sent by hydrophones in order to avoid potential threats. Monitoring and analysis of these signals entail employment of skilled and qualified technicians.
Increasing urgency of upgrading sea border and maritime security are forcing manufacturers to develop enhanced models of sonobuoys. In addition, greater control and security of vessel traffic strategic areas, maritime zones, water channels used for commercial purposes and to ensure safer waterways commuting naval forces are deploying advanced sonobuoy systems. For instance, sonobuoy manufacturers are developing advanced sonobuoy acoustic processing systems (SPAS) that are capable of processing cutting-edge active and passive sonobuoy operations.
Naval forces in several countries are bound to follow particular regulatory norms before deploying sonobuoys. These norms are set to restrict the use of sonobuoys systems in aquatic zones rich in marine life. For example, recently the US naval force was seeking permits to stretch training exercises associated with sonar deployment. The proposal has raised a lot of concerns amongst environmentalist who believe excessive exposure of sonar on marine animals can harm them.
Demand for sonobuoy systems has significantly grown in recent years, especially from the developed countries. In terms of revenue, the global sonobuoy market is anticipated to surpass US$ 518 Million by the end of 2016. In addition, the market is expected to stand at US$ 844.9 Million in terms of revenue by 2024.