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IMDEX 2019: Harris debuts UAV-borne sonobuoy dispenser concept

Harris Corporation has taken the opportunity to showcase its pylon-mounted sonobuoy dispenser concept at the International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (IMDEX) 2019 being held in Singapore from 14 to 16 May, for the first time in public.

The concept, called the Sonobuoy Dispenser System (SDS), leverages on the company’s experience in developing and manufacturing the pneumatic-powered Sonobuoy Rotary Launch (SRL) and Sonobuoy Single Launch (SSL) systems for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon multirole maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft.

Conceptual art of the Sonobuoy Dispenser System fitted to an unmanned aerial vehicle. (Harris Corporation)

Conceptual art of the Sonobuoy Dispenser System fitted to an unmanned aerial vehicle. (Harris Corporation)

At the core of the SDS is the Modular Launch Tube (MLT), which Harris describes as an individual launch station that is sized to release a single A-size sonobuoy from a LAU-126/A standard launch container (SLC). The company has also designed a tandem-buoy retrofit kit that enables a LAU-126/A canister to accommodate two F- or G-size sonobuoys in a single A-size container.

The MLT is an externally loaded system featuring a twist-lock bayonet style engagement mechanism to secure the sonobuoy payload, with an empty weight of approximately 4.5 kg. It is equipped with a buoy sensor to ensure positive carriage and launch and is designed to eject the buoy payload using charge pressures between 1,000 to 5,000 psi.

Harris also states that the MLT – which can be used as a stand-alone sonobuoy launcher or integrated into a larger system – can be mounted internally within the fuselage of an aircraft or incorporated into an external pylon-mounted pod, enabling light fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to perform ASW missions.

A 1:3 scale mock-up of the Sonobuoy Dispenser System concept seen equipped with nine Modular Launch Tubes in a 3×3 configuration. The external pod can be customised to suit specific platform and mission requirements. (IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong)

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