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A -- BAA06-13 - Underwater Express Program

Solicitation Number: BAA06-13
Agency: Other Defense Agencies
Office: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Location: Contracts Management Office
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Added: November 28, 2005
BROAD AGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT (BAA) 06-13 Underwater Express Program; CLOSING DATE: 12:00 Noon, February 1, 2007; FULL PROPOSALS FOR FIRST SELECTIONS: 12:00 Noon, February 1, 2006; local Arlington, VA time. POC: Khine Latt, DARPA/ATO; Email:; Web:

PROGRAM OBJECTIVES AND DESCRIPTION: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Advanced Technology Office (ATO) is soliciting proposals under this BAA for the Underwater Express Program to demonstrate stable and controllable high-speed underwater transport through supercavitation. The intent is to determine the feasibility for supercavitation technology to enable a new class of high-speed underwater craft for future littoral missions that could involve the transport of high-value cargo and/or small units of personnel. The Underwater Express program is a technology development and demonstration program: It will require the investigation and resolution of critical technological issues associated with the physics of supercavitation and must culminate in a credible demonstration at a significant scale to prove that a supercavitating underwater craft is controllable at speeds up to 100 knots.

Through this program, DARPA is seeking to facilitate new operational opportunities in the underwater battlespace. Also relevant are the current limitations for small high-speed surface craft which suffer performance degradation in waves and are subject to exposure, while underwater alternatives today are very slow. The military advantage of very high speed underwater craft has yet to be exploited to its full potential because significant technological breakthroughs are needed for operational viability of such a craft. The ability to attain substantial underwater speeds for this class of vehicle is severely constrained by the power required to overcome the large drag forces on an underwater body. Without a radical means to solve this problem, strides that could be made in underwater propulsion are limited, as are breakthroughs needed in underwater sensing, navigation, and communications, all critical to taking strategic advantage of the underwater space.

Supercavitation offers 60-70% reduction in total drag on an underwater body. It can be attained by going fast enough to develop a full vaporous cavity, or it can be induced at lower speeds by injecting gas into a partially-developed cavity. Although the technology has been applied to weapons with minimal control capability, its application to larger vessels with transport missions will require thorough development. Our goal is to achieve tractable management and control of the dynamics of a supercavitating underwater body so that an eventual system, manned or unmanned, could be envisioned to travel in this state.

DARPA is interested in proposals that will advance the understanding and use of supercavitation technology through research and development, small-scale experimentation, and a final at-sea demonstration. The Underwater Express final demonstration will be conducted at ¼ to ½ scale of a notional future craft of about 8-ft diameter and 60 tonnes, a ‘super-fast submerged transport’ (SST) craft. The ability to generate and maintain the large cavity needed for this scale vehicle has never been demonstrated, nor has a control system for maneuvering the vehicle. Therefore, this program will emphasize:

1. Modeling, simulation, and experimentation to provide better physical understanding of cavity formation, stability, and control;

2. Cavitator designs that generate stable, robust, and controllable cavities;

3. Prediction of cavity dynamics and vehicle behavior, prediction of vehicle behavior during fully-wetted conditions, transition to supercavitation conditions, and supercavitation conditions at speed;

4. Control system technologies that enable maneuverability when supercavitating;

5. A system concept, preliminary design, and requirements documentation for the notional SST craft.

The technologies will be first developed and proven at subscales. After demonstrations show the technology to be viable and technically sound, the technology will be scaled up to the next level.

Phase 1 will focus on stable cavity generation and sustainment by examining supercavitation physics and the interactions between the cavity and body. During Phase 1, a system concept for the 8-ft diameter notional SST system will be developed so that appropriate scale models can be designed for Phase 1 and Phase 2 testing and the Phase 3 demonstration (at ¼ to ½ scale of the notional SST). In addition, an initial concept design of a control system for all vehicle operating conditions is necessary.

Phase 2 will focus on stable vehicle dynamics by continuing to examine supercavitation physics and cavity/vehicle interactions and developing the vehicle control approach. The propulsion concept will be integrated. In this phase, maneuvering and body forces will be characterized and measured, as will gas expenditures. Phase 2 will also continue to develop the SST system concept.

Phase 3 will focus on design and fabrication of the demonstrator and system testing to ensure safe and effective operations. It will end with the at-sea demonstration of maneuvering at 100 knots for 10 minutes. Additionally, the final system specifications for the full-scale SST notional concept craft will be completed.

Potential bidders should include team members with expertise in vehicle system integration, vehicle control, supercavitation (or cavitation), cavity ventilation, underwater propulsion, and computational modeling.

This BAA shall remain open for one (1) year from the date of publication on and Although the Government may select proposals for award at any time during this period, it is anticipated that the majority of funding for this program will be committed during the initial selections. Proposers may submit a full proposal in accordance with the instructions provided in the Proposer Information Pamphlet (PIP) at any time up to the proposal due date. In order to be considered during the initial round of funding, full proposals must be submitted to DARPA, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714 (Attn: BAA06-13) on or before 12:00 Noon, February 1, 2006 Eastern Standard Time.

The Government encourages proposals from non-traditional defense contractors, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, small businesses, small disadvantaged business concerns, Historically-Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Minority Institutions (MI), large businesses and Government laboratories. Teaming arrangements between and among these groups are encouraged. However, no portion of this BAA will be set aside for HBCU/MI, small business, or small disadvantaged business participation due to the impracticality of preserving discrete or severable areas of research in the technologies sought. This BAA affords proposers the choice of submitting proposals for the award of a Grant, Cooperative Agreement, Contract, Technology Investment Agreement, Other Transaction for Prototype Agreement, or such other appropriate award instrument. The type of procurement or assistance vehicle is subject to negotiations.

PROPOSERS’ DAY: DARPA will host a Proposers’ Day in support of the BAA06-13, Underwater Express Program, on 16 December, 2005 at the Executive Conference Center, 3601 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, VA 22201 beginning at 8:00 am and lasting until 3:00 pm. The purpose of this event is to provide information on the Underwater Express Program, promote additional discussion on this topic, and address questions from potential proposers.

The Proposers’ Day will be unclassified NOFORN and will include a classified session at the SECRET level. Attendance is limited to U.S. citizens only, and attendance at the classified session will require an active collateral SECRET clearance. The Underwater Express Program will be subject to U.S. Export Controls (International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)) and National Security regulations. All performers must meet the requirements for participation set by those regulations. The Proposers’ Day is voluntary. Attendance is not required to propose to this BAA. No registration fee is required for this event. Additional information is available through the Underwater Express website:

Those who wish to attend this event must register NLT December 9, 2005 at the following website:

EVALUATION CRITERIA: The criteria to be used to evaluate and select proposals for this project are: (a) Technical Approach; (b) Experience in Developing Underwater Systems; (c) Management Approach; (d) Potential Contribution to the DARPA Mission, and (e) Cost Reasonableness and Realism. Each proposal will be evaluated on the merit and relevance of the specific proposal as it relates to the program rather than against other proposals for research in the same general area, since no common work statement exists.

The Government reserves the right to select for award all, some, or none of the proposals received in response to this BAA.

ADDITIONAL GUIDANCE: Proposers choosing to respond to this BAA must read the associated PIP available at and, which provides specific information about this BAA, including instructions on how to respond.


Other Defense Agencies, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Contracts Management Office, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA, 22203-1714
Patty Matyskiela, Contract Specialist, Phone xxx-xxx-xxxx, Fax xxx-xxx-xxxx, Email