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Navy Technologies

New Challenges Emerge to NGEN Transition

December 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network, freed from the challenge to its contract award, now enters a phase of uncertainty as the government and the winning bidder confront the aftermath of a 108-day delay. This delay has affected both the Navy’s and the contractor’s plans for the transition from the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet.

On October 31, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed the challenge to the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) contract that had been awarded on July 15. The original deadline for resolving the challenge was October 23, but the federal government shutdown pushed that date back. This required the Navy’s original milestone dates to be rescheduled, and the winning HP consortium faces the challenge of beginning the network transition from a cold start instead of from the ongoing continuity of services contract (COSC).

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, explains that key Navy personnel have transitioned, and the company had to divert resources to keep people fully employed. Bringing them back into the program and recalibrating the effort back to the July cutoff point is a challenge. “It’s not efficient to shut down and start up like this,” Toti states. “Any time you play with efficiencies of processes, you lose something. This [hiatus] has been a bad thing for us and the Navy.”

The Bottom Line: Revolution Through Evolution

November 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The bottom line is that today's military structure is not set up to foster creative solutions and incorporate them into the bureaucracy, but a revolution quietly erupted in October. More than 80 innovators came together to discuss their ideas about how to solve some of the military's most vexing problems.

Sequestration Hits Today’s Readiness and Tomorrow’s Modernization

November 7, 2013
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. military’s readiness to fight and its ability to purchase major weapon systems for the future are both threatened by strict budget caps established under sequestration, the Joint Chiefs warned during a November 7 hearing with the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

NGEN GAO Contract Challenge Hurts Implementation

November 6, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The delay in implementing the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) caused by the contract challenge to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has affected more than just the transition time frame. The network transition will cost more for the Navy because of lost funding opportunities.

New Cryptographic Device Destined for Drones

October 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers

U.S. Navy researchers are developing a state-of-the-art encryption device for integration onto KC-130 tankers and unmanned aerial systems. An existing version of the device is being installed onto B-52 bombers, E-4s, which serve as airborne command centers for the U.S. president and other National Command Authority officials, and E-6s, which are command and control centers for nuclear weapons. The encryption system can be integrated into virtually any platform and offers backward-compatible, software-definable algorithms that can be updated during operations without downtime.

It is that ability to load algorithms without downtime that researchers tout as one of the biggest benefits of the new system. “This is critical for the ability of the warfighter to be able to replace algorithms as they become obsolete. You don’t have to take a platform offline like almost every other crypto out there now,” says Stanley Chincheck, director, Center for High Assurance Computer Systems, Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), Washington, D.C. “You can do that while it is up and running. That is a unique feature that many crypto devices just don’t have.”

Chincheck cannot reveal a lot of details because of security concerns, but KC-130s and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will receive the next incarnation of the Programmable Embeddable INFOSEC (Information Security) Product (PEIP, pronounced peep). The version under development is known as PEIP III. The other aircraft—B-52s, E-4s and E-6s—are receiving the current version, PEIP II.

Portugal's Navy Faces Double-Edged Challenge

September 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The economic and technological challenges facing Western militaries are magnified for Portugal as it tries to ensure the viability of its navy. The small maritime nation that regularly participates in NATO naval operations is facing severe budgetary constraints as its domestic economy contracts, but it must improve and even increase its capabilities as a result of a growing mission set.

The first challenge facing the Portuguese navy is to meet its obligations amid the severe fiscal crisis gripping most of the Western world. Portugal has been hit hard by austerity measures amid high unemployment, and the navy’s budget may not grow significantly for the foreseeable future. The Portuguese Defense Ministry has stated the defense budget will remain at about 1.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) through 2020, but that GDP has been contracting since late 2010.

The second major challenge for the navy is to address the country’s new geopolitical makeup at sea. Portugal has applied for exclusive economic zone continental shelf status beyond the traditional 200 miles to encompass the Azores and Madeira, which are Portuguese territory. This would link and extend the three separate economic zones into a larger single zone. The result would be a much larger maritime area of about 3.8 million square kilometers (2.4 million square miles) that would need protection by the Portuguese navy, especially with regard to ocean-based resources ranging from fishing stocks to potential oil deposits.

Adm. José Saldanha Lopes, PON, is the chief of the Portuguese Naval Staff. He is pursuing a plan for his successors that would ensure the viability of the navy through the year 2035. Technology, fleet transformation and a shift in funding priorities are at the heart of the thrust for an effective future navy without significant funding increases.

Navy Surfs the Crowd

August 20, 2013

 

The U.S. Navy is turning to crowdsourcing as a possible situational awareness aid during disasters and social unrest. Data from eyewitnesses or participants would be fused with information from other sources to provide timely understanding and appreciation of an environment or location to response teams.

During the first phase of the Crowdsourcing Situational Awareness (Crowd-SA) project, a technical approach is being developed and prototype software will be demonstrated using simulated data. The goal is to design text analysis tools that extract events and entities in context, using language and patterns typically found in social media settings. This data would then be adjusted to improve fusion with information from non-crowdsourcing resources by using distributed cloud-based computing methods for processing the disparate data simultaneously.

Modus Operandi is developing the phase one software under a Small Business Innovation Research contract.

China’s Navy Deploys
 Three-Tier Defensive Weapons

July 1, 2013
By James C. Bussert

 

China is adopting a multitier shipborne weapon system approach that flies in the face of the approach usually taken by modern navies. Instead of building a single design for weapons systems that is adapted for different ships, the Chinese Navy has developed specialized systems that perform similar functions on different-sized vessels.

Traditionally, nations that sell naval weapon systems field a given design applicable to a wide variety of ships. For the U.S. Navy, the Mk 41 vertical launching system (VLS) has been the standard missile launcher for U.S. surface combatants and for foreign military sales. Originally, three sizes of Mk 41 modules were developed: the large “strike” size—commonly referred to by the overall designation Mk 41—that holds Tomahawk cruise missiles installed on cruisers and destroyers; a middle “tactical” size; and a “self-defense” quad pack for foreign customers with smaller ships.

In addition to these three types, four variants of the topside shorter-celled Mk 48 VLS have been exported to six foreign navies but are not used by the U.S. Navy. The six-barrel 20-millimeter Phalanx Gatling gun close-in weapon system (CIWS) is fitted to a majority of U.S. Navy ships and is exported widely to allied nations. A third defensive system is the multinational Mk 116 rolling airframe missile (RAM) design, which is deployed in the Mk 49 21-cell launchers used by six nations, including the U.S. Navy. A smaller SeaRAM with an 11-cell launcher in a Phalanx frame is replacing the 20-millimeter Gatling gun.

Contract Protest Does Not Change NGEN Vision

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network will introduce a host of new capabilities for users when it is implemented. These improvements will become apparent over time as the system’s flexibility allows for technology upgrades and operational innovation on the part of its users.

The network’s overall goals remain the same despite a protest over the contract award. However the protest is resolved, the program is designed to provide networking at less cost and with more flexibility to adjust for changes that emerge as a result of operational demand or technology improvements. These new capabilities could range from greater use of mobile technologies to virtual desktops dominating user environments.

Terry Halvorsen, Department of the Navy chief information officer, emphasizes that the user community at first will see little change when the Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) begins operation. The Navy’s goal is for a seamless changeover from the existing Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) to NGEN. “The user community initially won’t see any differences as we move forward in NGEN,” he says. “Everything we’re doing initially should be transparent to the user, and we have good plans in place to make that happen.”

NGEN aims to serve 800,000 users, 400,000 workstations and 2,500 locations in the United States and Japan. The Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet will be operating the network with full command and control. Contractor personnel will perform some hands-on activities.

Marines Set the Stage for Next-Generation Network

August 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

 

The steady march toward the U.S. Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network underwent a leap ahead as the U.S. Marines undertook a full transition before the contract for the new system even was awarded. The multiyear effort saw the Corps methodically absorb functions of the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet predecessor so the service was positioned for a smooth adoption of the new network.

This shift to a government-owned network required more than just a change in direction. The Corps had to achieve the transition without allowing any break in services to its Marines concurrent with deployments to Southwest Asia. It had to move network operations seamlessly across a philosophical gulf as well as a logistical one without creating a new infrastructure. And, it had to finish the transition perfectly positioned for the incorporation of the Next-Generation Enterprise Network, or NGEN.

By design, the transition planners had to aim at a hidden target. The entire transition took place before the contract for NGEN was awarded (see page 53), so they had no idea what the network would resemble. They needed to estimate what the winning bidder—whichever team it would be—would configure as a cost-effective, government-owned and -operated enterprise network. Then, the planners had to design a transition that would lead the Corps to that envisioned destination without losing any functionality along the way.

On June 1, the multiyear effort largely was completed. Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Nally, USMC, director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4) and chief information officer (CIO) for the Marine Corps, lauds the results. “The transition effort went very, very well,” he states, crediting the skill of the personnel involved for its successful outcome. Their knowledge, as well as their ability to adapt and overcome hurdles, were key to the transition program.

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