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The detection of signals in an unknown, typically non-Gaussian noise environment, while attempting to maintain a constant false-alarm rate, is a common problem in radar and sonar. The raw receiver data is commonly processed initially by a bank of frequency filters. The further processing of the outputs from the filter bank by a two-sample Mann-Whitney detector is considered. When the noise statistics in all filters are identical, the Mann-Whitney detector is distribution free, i. e., the false-alarm probability may be prescribed in advance regardless of the precise form of the noise statistics. The primary purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the potential advantage of nonparametric detectors over conventional detectors. The signal detection performance of the Mann-Whitney detector is compared to that of an ordinary linear envelope detector plus integrator in the presence of Gaussian and several hypothetical forms of non-Gaussian noise. This comparison is made for both uniform and nonuniform distributions of noise power across the filter bank. Besides providing a much more constant false-alarm rate than the conventional detector, the Mann-Whitney detector's signal detection performance is found also to be much less sensitive to the form of the noise statistics. In one case, its detection sensitivity is found to be 11 dB better than that of the conventional detector. Even when the noise power density is made moderately nonuniform across the filter bank, the detection performance of the Mann-Whitney detector is found not to be significantly affected.