Submarines require a suite of antennas to provide the necessary communications, navigation, and Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) capabilities. Submarine antennas, as compared to surface ship antennas, are unique in design, shape, materials, and performance due to a submarine’s space and weight limitations, extreme environmental conditions, and stealth considerations. The NUWC Division Newport, under the Submarine Integrated Antenna System (SIAS) program, is the primary design agent for submarine antennas. The following sections summarize the current SIAS program and future antenna concepts. Appendix A provides a detailed Submarine Antenna Program Plan, listing both existing capabilities and current and planned SIAS acquisition and research and development programs.


The current antenna development efforts include: the Submarine SHF/EHF HDR SATCOM antenna, an Improved AN/BRA-34 antenna, the upgrade to the AN/BST-1 SSBN emergency buoy, the ADS, and antenna systems engineering. Ongoing antenna systems engineering include: GBS, SOF connectivity, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), JTIDS, and a Maritime Cellular Information Exchange System (MCIXS) cellular telephone capability. Table 4-1 and the following sections summarize the capabilities provided by each program.

4.2.1 SHF/EHF High Data Rate Satellite Communications Antennas

The Submarine HDR antenna effort is focused on providing submarines with antennas that have the bandwidth, gain, and flexibility to meet the stated COMSUBLANT/COMSUBPAC requirements for HDR communications in the SHF and EHF frequency bands. Antenna development is concentrating on multiband antennas which support military SHF (Defense Satellite Communications System [DSCS]), commercial SHF, and EHF MDR communications at data rates up to 1544 kbps (T1). A near-term SHF capability at 128 kbps and a minimum EHF MDR capability of 64 kbps is required. These capabilities will be achieved using existing technology and a COTS/GOTS/NDI approach. The far-term (FY06) requirement is to achieve data rates up to T-1 as antenna and satellite technology matures. Anticipated technologies include multi-band antennas and the use of conformal arrays. Ongoing submarine technology base efforts sponsored by the Office of Naval Research will be leveraged and transitioned into the SIAS program at the appropriate time.

4.2.2 Improved AN/BRA-34

The Improved AN/BRA-34 (or AN/OE-XXX) program began in June 1989 to increase reliability and improve the antenna’s multifunction (communications, navigation, and IFF) capabilities while retaining the existing radome. The program has since been restructured to optimize support for Fleet UHF DAMA requirements. A low band very high frequency (VHF) capability (30-88 MHz) has been added to support interoperability with SOF. Technical and Operational Evaluation (TECHEVAL/OPEVAL) is to be conducted in FY96 with a Milestone III decision expected in late FY96.

4.2.3 Antenna Distribution System

The objective of the ADS program is to replace the existing manually operated antenna RF patch panels. Manual patching prevents the rapid reconfiguration of communications circuits required to support submarine operations in a Joint or Battle Group environment. The ADS will allow highly flexible and automated routing of signals and information between the radio room and various antenna systems. The ADS will be under the technical control of the SCSS INM, using an industry standard SNMP running on a single TAC-X based operator workstation. The ADS will replace the point-to-point wiring of radio frequency (RF) and control lines that exist on current submarines. As discussed in Section 3.2.1, a prototype version of the ADS, supporting RF switching in the high frequency (HF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) bands, is being fielded as part of the SCSS BBS Phase Prototype and will be demonstrated and evaluated at sea in FY96. Following IOC in FY98, ADS installations will continue during the SCSS SARR phase. Production ADS units will be OSA-based, using the VXI standard and, wherever possible, COTS components. All future antennas will be designed with an ADS interface to provide for automatic control and operation. The antenna designer will be required to provide a plug-in card for the ADS controller that will contain all information regarding the capabilities and operation of the antenna. The antenna system design will require an RF plug-in unit that conforms to the ADS interface standard. The ADS will provide RF and Intermediate Frequency (IF) interfaces for SOF communications equipment.

4.2.4 AN/BST-1 Upgrade

The AN/BST-1, a submarine emergency communications transmitter (SECT) system, has been deployed on SSBNs since 1972. A system upgrade providing a long-life battery, increased reliability, and reduced operating costs is under consideration. The upgrade program would be applicable to TRIDENT class submarines and consists of a launch control system (LCS), launcher subsystem, buoy subsystem, and test set subsystem. The LCS would upgrade the launch control unit, release unit, depth sensing unit, and signal unit while using existing cables and hull penetrators, as well as add Built-in Test/Built-in Test Equipment (BIT/BITE) circuitry.

CJCSI 3150.3, Joint Reporting Structure Event and Incident Reports require a system be in place for immediate notification to the National Military Command Center (NMCC) and CINCs of any incident or event where national level interest is indicated. Without notification, the loss or destruction of a TRIDENT submarine would significantly degrade the ability of the CINC to manage strategic forces in a crisis. The AN/BST-1 system currently provides for immediate and reliable loss reporting capability. Until a new system that meets the current requirements is developed, the AN/BST-1 should be maintained and remain reliable.


The SIAS program will continue to concentrate on the development of a system of antennas, new SHF/EHF HDR antennas, and technology enhancements to meet the evolving needs identified by the submarine force. In particular, the SIAS program will continue to concentrate on addressing the specific antenna requirements identified in the COMSUBLANT/COMSUBPAC requirements letter (see Appendix E). Figure 4-1 describes the future transitions in submarine antennas and antenna switching. The related programs, commencing in FY96 and discussed in detail in Appendix A, include: