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U.S. Navy

Navy Hedges Bets on NGEN Contract

February 21, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The sea service seeks to extend NMCI’s lifetime just in case its replacement is delayed.

Being Number Two Will Not Do for Information Dominance

December 1, 2012
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy is on a course designed to rule the information arena.

With information operations growing increasingly critical to combat operations, the United States cannot afford to be anything less than number one in the data wars. And the U.S. Navy is implementing several measures to ensure information dominance. Measures include dramatically reducing the number of data centers and legacy networks, further developing the Information Dominance Corps and building an unmanned vehicle capable of being launched from sea

Navy Lab Bridges the Research Bench and the Fleet

December 1, 2012
By Max Cacas

A new facility allows scientists to test innovations 
for autonomous and unmanned systems.

A new manmade realm allows robots to learn how to scale sheer cliff walls, go from the ocean to the beach or cross hot, burning desert sands. In this environment, researchers can examine the machines’ every move and how they interact with human warfighters. And one day, these robots also may help save sailors’ lives at sea.

Whether it flies through the air, moves on the ground or swims in the sea, the U.S. Navy now has a laboratory dedicated to testing and development of technologies for the next generation of robotic devices. The Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) opened this spring on the campus of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) along the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It is designed to be a venue for multidisciplinary research into autonomous and unmanned systems, and is available to NRL researchers, as well as industry and academic scientists. The commitment to build LASR is part of the Navy’s overall push to make robotic devices a part of the future maritime force. The 50,000-square-foot facility was built at a cost of $18 million, says Alan Schultz, director of LASR and director of the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence. Currently, LASR is home to Schultz and only four permanent staffers. But, he explains, LASR is designed to be a bridge between researchers in other NRL divisions doing what he describes as “bench science,” and the Navy’s fleet, where shipboard prototypes are built and tested to determine if they meet the needs of warfighters.

JTRS Gets Digital Data Add-on

April 12, 2012

The Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) has been approved for full production and fielding. The MIDS JTRS is a software-based terminal that provides interoperable and secure tactical datalinks and programmable networking capabilities.

Homefront Help: National Museum of the U.S. Navy

May 5, 2011
By Rita Boland

This museum is dedicated to honoring the U.S. Navy. Features include naval artifacts, models, documents and art that chronicle the history of the sea service.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Emerge as the Navy Sets New Priorities

January 26, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy has killed some programs and accelerated others as it restructures its budget priorities. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy, gave the West 2011 Wednesday luncheon audience a bluntly candid assessment of which systems worked, which didn't and were canceled, and which are on probation. One of the key systems killed was the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. While it had a troubled history, it was going well recently, but the Navy-acting on a recommendation from the commandant-killed the program because it was going to eat up too much of the Corps' budget in the future. Work reported that it would have consumed 50 percent of all Marine Corps procurement funds-100 percent of Marine Corps historical vehicle expenditures-between 2018 and 2025. Work was much harsher in his explanation of why the Navy canceled the ALQ-99 jamming pod for the EA-18G Growler aircraft. "The Growler is a good aircraft, but the ALQ-99 is a piece of crap-the polite thing to say is that it's reaching the end of its service life," Work declared to an attentive audience. "Instead, we'll have something better for the Growler." The F-35B short takeoff vertical landing aircraft program is having problems, and it has been put off two years so that its problems can be fixed. Work expressed confidence in that decision, saying, "We are absolutely convinced that we will fix the problems in the F-35B." But Work waxed eloquent about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, which is proceeding with two vastly different production designs. Calling it "one of the most misunderstood ships in the Navy," he nonetheless praised both its capabilities and its program structure. Having two companies concurrently producing LCS ships at the current schedule has saved the taxpayer $2.9 billion, Work stated. Three missions that used to require different classes of ships have been combined into one, and he is confident it will work well.

U.S. Navy Makes Lemonade out of Budgetary Lemons

January 26, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy is re-tailoring its force as it realizes efficiencies driven by budgetary needs, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work enthusiastically told the audience at Wednesday's West 2011 luncheon that the new budget direction is giving the Navy opportunities to build the type of force that it needs for the coming decades. "Our shipbuilding program is more stable than it has been in a decade," Work declared. Work described how many budget savings have been re-allocated to other programs, which is providing long-term savings through accelerated development. Some of the programs that were cut were doing well, but they fell into the category of "exquisite capabilities"-highly desirable, but not absolutely necessary. The savings were redirected toward programs that were essential to the Navy's future. "We accelerated things that we knew we needed," he related. The Navy will "buy smarter," acquiring exactly the same as it bought last year, but for $8.5 billion less, he continued. However, he admits that what keeps him up at night is the continuing resolution under which the Navy is operating now. The Navy is capped at 2010 levels and cannot begin new programs. "We've got to get that fixed," Work charged, "or it will force the Department of the Navy to make stupid and irrevocable decisions."

Gumataotao To Command Carrier Strike Group Eleven

January 26, 2011
By Beverly Schaeffer

Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao, USN, has been assigned commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven, San Diego.

Growing Enemy Capabilities Undermine U.S. Warfighting Doctrine

January 25, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

The battlespace dominance enjoyed by U.S. forces for two decades may be disappearing as many potential adversaries begin to employ the very technologies that have served U.S. forces. Dick Diamond Jr., national security trends and strategic issues analyst with Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, warned that the near monopoly enjoyed by the United States in precision guided munitions (PGMs) and surveillance is going away. "We may not be able to conduct our favorite American way of war in the future," Diamond declared. Moderating a West 2011 panel focusing on unmanned systems, Diamond went on to say that the United States may not be able to position forces forward for fighting at a time of its choosing. These forces would be vulnerable to other countries that are procuring PGMs at affordable prices. As a result, maritime forces will need to be positioned farther away from shore. And, information dominance may be the key battlefield of the future. "Just ask the Iranian nuclear engineers," Diamond offered.

Amphibious Marine Corps Capability Needed in Time of Dubious International Support

January 25, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps will need to innovate while maintaining its traditional amphibious capabilities as nations act more in their own interests, suggests a Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) deputy commander. Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, USMC, deputy commanding general, 1 MEF, told a West 2011 luncheon audience that the Corps is exploring innovative solutions to meet new international contingencies. "The U.S. Marine Corps has never met the nation's needs by being conventional in its approach," the general declared. Gen. Spiese emphasized that Marine Corps capabilities hinge on its being able to interoperate with the U.S. Navy. Among those capabilities is amphibious assault, which-as opposed to many new doctrines-remains relevant and important. The general stated that most nations, including friends, act in their own interests. As a result, it is harder to arrange for allies to go along with U.S. policies. Nations change their policies over time as their national interests change. The United States cannot assume these nations will support it as a matter of fact, Gen. Spiese stated. So, the United States should not place itself in a position where pursuing its interests rely on the policies of another nation.

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