Michael R. Scherschel
Air Devices Branch, Naval Surface Warfare Ctr., Crane Div., Crane, IN 47522-5070
For 25 years the Navy has conducted sonobuoy functional acceptance tests at a dedicated contractor operated facility in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. This program is supported by P-3 aircraft and ocean test vessels also operated by the contractor. Other critical sonobuoy design parameters are evaluated at a tow test facility in the waters of southeast Alaska. To accommodate program downsizing, it is necessary to utilize Navy owned and operated assets to fulfill the acceptance test function (considerable savings result from this approach). As a result the acceptance test function will transfer from St. Croix to San Clemente Island so that existing Navy assets are more fully utilized. This function transfer must be properly monitored to assure no reduction in reliability of sonobuoys entering Fleet stockpiles. Currently the Navy is exploring a possible alternative to ocean airdrop and tow tests by developing a lake facility near NSWC, Crane Division in Indiana.