Sonar Systems Design With Practical Applications to LF, MF and HF Sonar

Course Length:



This 3-day course provides an overview of sonar systems design and highlights how sonar principles are employed in low frequency (LF), mid frequency (MF) and high frequency (HF) sonar applications. The course provides a solid understanding of the sonar equation and discusses in-depth propagation loss, target strength, reverberation, array gain, and detection of signals and their application to practical systems. Physical insight and typical results are provided to help understand each term of the sonar equation individually. The instructors then show how the sonar equation can be used to predict the performance of passive and active sonar systems. The course also reviews applications of passive and active sonar for ASW, including bistatics, for monitoring marine mammals and for high frequency detection, localization and imaging. The course is valuable to engineers and scientists who are entering the field or as a review for employees who want a system level overview. A comprehensive set of notes and the textbook Principles of Underwater Sound will be provided to all attendees. Students will also receive analysis tools that they can use to quickly assess systems performance in the ocean environment.

What you will learn:

  • Sonar equation as it applies to active and passive systems.
  • Fundamentals of array configurations, beamforming, and signal detectability.
  • Rationale behind the design of LF, MF and HF passive and active sonar systems.
  • Predicting performance in different ocean environments using existing oceanographic databases
  • Spreadsheet tools for analyzing and assessing system performance in the ocean environment
    • PAM – Passive Acoustic Monitoring
    • HF Active tracking of Marine Mammals
    • Basic principles of target strength for ships, submarines and marine life
  1. Sonar Equation & Signal Detection. Sonar concepts and units, the sonar equation. Typical active and passive sonar parameters. Signal detection, probability of detection/false alarm. ROC curves and detection threshold. Ambient and self noise in different frequency bands.
  2. Arrays and Beamforming. Directivity and array gain; sidelobe control, array patterns and beamforming for passive bottom, hull mounted, and sonobuoy sensors; calculation of array gain in directional noise.
  3. Propagation of Sound in the Sea. Oceanographic basis of propagation, convergence zones, surface ducts, sound channels, surface and bottom losses. Useful models for predicting LF, MF and HF transmission loss in different environments. Variation of transmission loss and absorption with LF, MF and HF sonars.
  4. Passive Sonar. Illustrations of passive sonars including sonobuoys, towed array systems, and PAM systems for marine mammal monitoring. Considerations for passive sonar systems, including radiated source level, sources of background noise, and self noise. Impact of noise on marine mammals.
  5. Active Sonar. Design factors for active sonar systems including waveform selection, target strength and reverberation for LF, MF and HF applications.
  6. Practical Example Calculations Using Spreadsheet Tools.


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • James Jenkins is the Founder and President of the Applied Technology Institute (ATI). He has performed research and taught sonar and continuing education courses since 1977. ATI offers 200 courses to help engineers and scientist stay up-to-date in today’s changing technology. He has worked with sonar system studies and at-sea testing with passive and active systems. He was a senior physicist investigating improved signal processing systems, APB, ocean observing systems, SSBN operations and passive and active sonars.

  • Dr. William Ellison is the Founder and Chief Scientist of Marine Acoustics, Inc. Dr. Ellison has established MAI as a principal contributor in a wide range of engineering and scientific efforts. MAI serves as the primary test and at-sea evaluation agent for a number of the Navy’s key development programs for surface, submarine and air ASW systems. He served as a primary scientific advisor for two of the Navy’s most extensive multi-year research programs, the Critical Sea Test and Low Frequency Active programs.

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