David R. Heebner


David R. Heebner
Associated organizations
Hughes Aircraft Company, Science Applications International Corporation


David R. Heebner's inspired defense technology research, including his pioneering role in the development of towed array sonar systems, has had a lasting impact on U.S. military technology.

At Hughes Aircraft Company, in Fullerton Calif., in the 1950s, Mr. Heebner led the successful development and deployment of a multiplexed hydrophone sonar system. Prior systems required a twisted pair of wires for each hydrophone, with drag from wires severely limiting the length of the array. The multiplexed system allowed many hydrophones to share a single set of wires. He also participated in and directed advanced systems for acoustic signal processing. Towed arrays enabled submarines and other vessels to detect enemy submarines from great distances before being detected themselves.

Mr. Heebner continued to make significant contributions to defense technology as assistant director of sea warfare programs and deputy director of defense research and engineering in the Department of Defense from 1968-1975, and later, as executive vice president and vice chairman of the board at Science Applications International Corporation in McLean, Va. Until his death in January 2003, he worked as a consultant, with active memberships on several corporate boards and advisory groups.

An IEEE Life Fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Mr. Heebner received numerous honors, including the U.S. Secretary of Defense's Eugene G. Fubini Award and Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He also was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.