Submarines: U.S. Navy Leaves eBay For Best Buy


January 5, 2010: The U.S. Navy has completed a program to upgrade the sonar systems on all of its nuclear submarines. The A-RCI (Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion) program involved more than installing faster computers and more memory. That's because COTS stands for "Commercial off-The-Shelf". That means the sonar gear was modified so that it can more easily take advantage of new processors and memory developments. Since these items have been doubling in power, every 18-24 months, for over 40 years, it's about time. In the past, submarines often had sonar systems powered by decade old CPUs, and memory chips that were no longer manufactured. Fortunately, the navy is not alone in running ancient gear, so there were suppliers who bought up old CPUs and memory SIMMs, and sold the stuff to the navy. Sometimes, however, particularly old components could only be found on eBay.

The navy began the A-RCI program in 1998, but it has taken over a decade to debug the system and get the gear into  44 subs, as such major modifications could only be done when the boats came in for refueling (usually halfway through their careers) or for some other major repairs or maintenance. The new Virginia class boats have A-RCI built in.

Sonar, particularly the passive (just listening) type, depends heavily on computer processing power to detect and identify anything out there.




ad Help Keep Us Online!

Help Keep Us Afloat! Go to other sites on the World Wide Web and they look like the a mad marketer has gained control of them. Lots of ads and little content! Ad revenues are down for everyone! We don’t want to follow the crowd. But here is the deal we cannot keep our site relative ad free without your support. Each month we need your subscriptions or contributions plus what meager ad revenue we do receive to stay in business. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close