A sonobuoy is a device used to detect and identify objects in the water. They are used to detect submarines by either listening for the sounds produced by propellers and machinery (passive detection) or by bouncing a sonar “ping” off the surface of the submarine (active detection).
Specialized sonobuoys can also detect electric fields and magnetic anomalies, as well as measure factors in the environment like water temperature versus depth, air temperature, barometric pressure, and wave height. Sonobuoys are often dropped from aircraft that have specialized electronic equipment to receive and process data sent by them.
During the Cold War, sonobouys developed at NADC were used to locate and track nuclear submarines around the world. Sonobouy technology is still in use around the world today. Sonobouys were used as part of the international effort to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 aircraft.
Other uses of Sonobouys include:
- Environmental Science Measurements
- Air and water temperature
- Barometric pressure
- Ocean salinity (salt levels)
- Air temperature
- Wave height
- Search and rescue operations
- Radio and data relay to/from submarines
- Detection of electric fields and magnetic anomalies