What are Sonobuoys?

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What are Sonobuoys? Blog Image


The Indian Navy plans to equip the MQ-9B Sea Guardian medium altitude long-endurance (MALE) drones with sonobuoys.

About Sonobuoys

  • Sonobuoys are small, expendable devices used in underwater acoustics and sonar systems to detect and analyze sound in the oceanparticularly for tracking submarines and other underwater objects.
  • Deployment:
    • Sonobuoys are deployed by dropping them into the ocean from aircraft or launching them from ships or submarines.
    • They sink to a predetermined depth and begin listening for acoustic signals, helping pin-point potential submarine threats.
    • Multiple sonobuoys can be deployed in a pattern to determine the exact location of a target.
  • There are three types of sonobuoys:
    • Passive Sonobuoys quietly listen for and record sounds without emitting any signals. It uses a hydrophone to listen for sound energy from a target.
    • Active Sonobuoys emit a sound pulse and analyze the return signals (echoes) to detect and locate targets. It uses a transducer to send an acoustic signal.
    • Special Purpose buoys provide information about the environment, such as water temperature, ambient noise level, etc.
  • Components: A typical sonobuoy consists of a cylindrical or spherical buoyant housingsensors for detecting acoustic signalsa battery or power source, and a radio transmitter or other communication system to relay data to the host platform (e.g., aircraft or ship).
  • Other Applications: In addition to anti-submarine warfare, they are used for scientific research and environmental studies, including studying the behavior of whales and other marine creatures.


Key Facts about MQ-9B Sea Guardian:

  • It is a variant of the MQ-9 "Reaper", an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.
  • These are high-altitude long-endurance drones armed with strike missiles which can take out enemy targets with high accuracy.
  • It was developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), primarily for the US Military.
  • The Indian Navy has been operating the MQ-9B Sea Guardian since 2020.
  • Features:
    • It can carry up to 5,670 kg and has a fuel capacity of 2,721 kg.
    • The drone can operate at over 40,000 feet.
    • The Predator also has a maximum endurance of 40 hours, making it useful for long-hour surveillance.
    • It is also capable of automatic take-offs and landings.
    • It can safely integrate into civil airspace, enabling joint forces and civil authorities to deliver real-time situational awareness anywhere in the maritime domain -- day or night.


Q1) What is a Sonar?

Sonar, which stands for "Sound Navigation and Ranging," is a technology that uses sound waves to detect, locate, and measure objects underwater. It is a versatile tool used in various applications, including navigation, communication, and underwater surveillance. Sonar systems operate on the principle of sending out sound waves and listening for their echoes to gather information about underwater environments and objects.

Source: Indian Navy To Equip Its MQ-9B Sea Guardian Drones With Sonobuoys, To Hunt Chinese Submarines Lurking In Indian Ocean