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NEWS | March 26, 2021

ASW Virtualization Initiative Expands DDG's Combat Capability

By NAVSEA Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD, D.C. - A Navy team responsible for developing and testing Surface Ship Undersea Warfare Combat System Suites (AN/SQQ-89A (V) 15) improved the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability of a guided missile destroyer during a February exercise.

The integrated team led by Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) and supported by NAVSEA’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Navy research labs and industry, demonstrated the ability to reduce the time it takes to upgrade a DDG’s ASW combat system, completing a virtual upgrade to USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) in just two days following equipment validation and verification.

The team successfully installed a virtual version of the most recent ASW capability software, directly into the ship’s existing SQQ-89A (V) 15 legacy Technical Insertion (TI-14) hardware infrastructure to complete the integration and upgrade.

SQQ-89A(V)15 Program Manager Capt. Jill Cesari said this proof-of-concept demonstration reduces upgrade costs significantly, removing the requirement for hull cuts, minimizing hardware change-outs, and reducing the time to modernize these combat systems from six to nine months of shipyard times to a matter of weeks.

“This will allow the Navy to upgrade ships with the latest, greatest software more frequently, Cesari said.

The program office and NUWC have been working this for six years, and over the last two years made significant headway. “This past month we demonstrated it can be done, it works at sea, now need to tweak some of the software bugs to really move forward with eventual delivery to ships in the next few years,” Cesari said.

The team of engineers developed the 14v19 proof-of-concept SQQ-89A(V)15 system with a modern computing infrastructure, packaged in a roll-on, roll-off non-permanent Surface Ship Undersea Warfare Combat System appliance (AN/SQQ-89A (V)15) that can be fully integrated, validated, and operational in less than two weeks. In essence, the team demonstrated a workable approach to rapidly field the latest ACB to a ship with minimal hardware changes.

Upgraded from its older ACB-13 software to ACB-19, USS William P. Lawrence was able to exercise state-of-the-art ASW capabilities and demonstrate improved performance over currently fielded ACBs. 

USS William P. Lawrence’s ASW Officer Lt. j.g. Cynthia Castagnaro led the ship’s ASW team through the Submarine Commanders Course events and successfully demonstrated the 14v19 system’s  ability to control acoustic sensors, fully integrate with the Aegis combat system, and exercise fire control functionality from the virtual ACB-19 software.

"This system is the way of the future for the Surface Fleet in an ASW environment,” Castagnaro said. “Its enhanced features and computing formulas helped watch standers find, gain, and maintain track of threat submarines proficiently. In a real-world ASW environment, this system could make surface ships a much more formidable and lethal force."

Cesari viewed this accomplishment as a key milestone in fielding fully virtualized combat system suites.

“We will continue to challenge the status quo of how to design, produce and deliver capability to the Fleet in order to get the best ASW capability to sea faster and for less cost. I’m really proud of the collective IWS 5 team for making this TECHDEMO happen.  We couldn’t have accomplished it without the great support from William P. Lawrence crew, DESRON 31, SURFPAC and SMWDC.”

The SQQ-89 team continues to redefine the next-generation system architecture and evaluate virtualization technology integration options as it strives to provide the greatest ASW technology to the Fleet operators.