Bandwidth demands and the increased use of autonomous aerial and underwater vehicles are among the challenges for the nation’s aging fleet of ocean research ships. A new report predicts that the fleet will face even more demands on its time in the future.
An advanced radar being designed for the U.S. Navy would provide future warships with a powerful sensor capable of detecting and tracking a variety of threats, from ballistic missiles to aircraft and supersonic, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. The new radar will combine the capabilities of two existing radars, resulting in fewer antennas on a ship’s superstructure, increased reaction time and the ability to adapt to changing combat environments rapidly. The system also will feature a modular plug-and-play architecture allowing quick system upgrades, more efficient use of hardware and bandwidth, and reduced power and cooling requirements.
The U.S. Navy continues to take advantage of open architecture and an open business model to incorporate the most advanced capabilities into a key piece of the Submarine Combat System. Navy leadership is employing a program where technology upgrades can be inserted as necessary and as available to provide sailors with the tools they need to perform their missions. The effort reduces the time between upgrades as well as implements the best new ideas in industry more quickly. The plan is benefiting tactical control on submarines by keeping technologies in a state-of-the-practice configuration at all times, while being responsive to requests from the fleet and lowering costs.
The U.S. Navy is rolling out its first new maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft in four decades, pushing mission technologies into the future. Upgrading the capabilities of the platform’s predecessor makes it better suited for today’s battle environment. Improvements include the ability to process more data, fly higher and longer and cover a larger area. The aircraft’s main purpose will be antisubmarine warfare, but it will be inherently flexible. In addition, the open systems architecture will make onboard adjustments easier and less expensive for the Navy and its partners while commercial production practices will reduce costs. Foreign nations and U.S. allies also are purchasing the aircraft and will provide input to the development process.
The U.S. Navy is transitioning from network-centric to info-centric as it adjusts for the changing missions of the 21st century. The shift represents less a technology change than an organizational and operational one as the sea service faces more diverse missions with fewer assets.
As the U.S. Navy continues to fine-tune its plans for the Next Generation Enterprise Network, its information technology leaders are focusing on the larger information technology picture, including who has command and control of its networks. Among their other priorities are decision superiority, cybersecurity, maritime domain awareness and training. All of these issues are being viewed through a magnifying glass of fiscal responsibility as the specter of defense budget reductions looms.
The U.S. Navy is revamping its intelligence structure with command upgrades and a new set of priorities designed to rebuild naval intelligence. This effort includes the creation of a new maritime intelligence office that will move the Navy out of providing service-specific intelligence fully into the realm of national intelligence.
An advanced satellite communications terminal is boosting the connectivity of U.S. Navy warships. Part of an effort to complement vessels’ military satellite communications capabilities, the new commercial terminals are designed to increase data transmission speeds to meet the service’s growing need for network-centric applications such as live tactical imagery.
China may be building a navy that features some world-class technologies aboard new ships, but its large numbers and variety of naval and air weapons still are operated in isolated methods because of the lack of effective command, control and communications and datalinks. Of 494 Chinese navy ships, the only combatant warships with credible Level III command, control and communications are four imported Russian Sovremennyi guided missile destroyers, 11 new construction guided missile destroyers, four 054A guided missile frigates, two upgraded Luda-class destroyers and 12 submarines, including nuclear strategic ballistic missile submarines.
For centuries, navies around the world have sent sailors over the salty brine to explore and conquer. But as seafarers and their technologies have advanced, knowledge of what lies below the ocean’s surface has become more critical to success. The U.S. Navy has launched numerous projects to enhance underwater capabilities, and some of the most important will reduce the human component of vessels until people are almost absent from the equation.
The U.S. Navy is working hard to keep humans out of minefields. The service is developing a host of autonomous and air-deployed capabilities to detect and neutralize mines at sea and in littoral zones. These systems, which are now entering service, will reduce and ultimately eliminate the need for divers to disarm and destroy mines in person.
The U.S. Navy is turning over the modernization of a shipboard network system to private industry to speed the introduction of new technologies and capabilities. The upgrades currently being introduced into the system help bring ship networks into the Web 2.0 era and provide the flexibility to accommodate more communications advances as they are incorporated into the fleet.
The U.S. Navy has made great strides in the communications field in the past two years, but the work is far from over. When the position of deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks (N-6) on the staff of the chief of naval operations was reinstated in 2006, the vice admiral who moved into the spot recognized naval needs and implemented measures to move the sea service forward both through technology and policy. Now, as he prepares to retire and pass the reins to a successor in June, he can see many of his plans coming to fruition and make recommendations for the path ahead.
China is launching catamaran missile boats in large numbers in what might be a program to replace long-standing conventional missile boats. However, the new missile catamarans are painted in blue and white camouflage colors that are characteristic of the Chinese marines. This raises questions about the boats’ real missions—questions that might be intentionally generated by the paint scheme.
In the cell phone business, it’s all about the network, but in the military world, it’s about the information that rides on that network. The type commander in charge of the U.S. Navy’s networks set sail a mere five years ago, but in that short period of time, its mission has grown and shifted with equal emphasis on the security of the systems and the intelligence they carry. Along the way, the command has picked up a few new responsibilities, including becoming the primary authority to ensure the homogeneity of the service’s communications systems.
U.S. Navy boarding teams in the midst of operations now are able to exchange information about their target vessels using high-speed commercial wireless technologies. A system funded by the Office of Naval Research and developed by the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) has just entered the fleet and is allowing maritime security boarding crews to tap Navy databases and to transmit information from a boarded ship.
The U.S. Navy is installing a network-based communications architecture to use bandwidth more effectively on a variety of submarines. The technology automates functions and requires less equipment and fewer personnel than current systems. The Navy recently declared the technology ready for the fleet.
The U.S. Navy cannot become fully network centric quickly enough to be able to carry out its new diverse mission slate, according to its top military officer. Adm. Michael G. Mullen, USN, chief of naval operations, states that new missions and the potential for a greater number of nations to participate in them add up to increased reliance on the network and its capabilities.
The U.S. Navy has affirmed its dedication to improving communications networks aboard ship and ashore by reinstating the position of deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks (N-6) on the staff of the chief of naval operations. The vice admiral tapped to fill the position plans to consolidate systems, reallocate funds and help the Navy deliver on the promises it makes to its sailors.
An ongoing U.S. Navy realignment is uniting defense and intelligence tasks to permit missions based on both service-specific and national capabilities. The changes are accelerating the convergence of the service's command, control, communications, computers, information operations and space asset capabilities. This will enable component commanders to be more proactive in hunting down maritime threats.