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Navy Technologies

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.

Unmanned Submersibles Competition Challenges Students

July 18, 2013

The Office of Naval Research and the AUVSI Foundation are co-sponsoring an autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) competition, which supports interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education while increasing the pool of AUV ideas. The 16th International RoboSub Competition, titled “License to Dive,” will challenge university and high school student teams to bump buoys, park, fire foam torpedoes through a hexagonal cutout, deposit two markers into bins while submerged, and deliver two PVS mock pizza boxes to a specified location. They will be judged based on points awarded for how well their AUV completed the tasks. Teams also must create websites and write journal papers that outline their work.

Cash prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges; the 2012 competition first through third place winning teams took home $8,000, $4,000 and $3,000, respectively.

A real-time webcast of the 2013 RoboSub finals will begin on July 28 at 1 p.m. PDT.

NGEN Protest Halts Contract Work

July 16, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Implementation of the U.S. Navy’s $3.5 billion Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) will have to wait until a protest by two of the companies that did not receive the contract is upheld or rejected. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has until October 23 to rule on the challenge.

U.S. Navy Gathers Efficiency Ideas

July 11, 2013

The Chief of Naval Operations' Reduce Administrative Distractions (RAD) team is collecting input about how to streamline or eliminate administrative processes. With an interface similar to social media platforms, the U.S. Navy website, created by IdeaScale, enables visitors to share their observations about training, administrative tasks, procedures and instruction, and then propose their ideas for efficiencies.

Open to all ranks and any duty status as well as naval civilians, it also features comment and voting capabilities. To encourage participation, users are rewarded with merit badges based on their activity on the site. Since the RAD team launched the site on July 1, discussion topics have ranged from anti-terrorism force protection to electronic routing.

Data collection is the first in a three-phase approach to address cumbersome administrative processes in the fleet. During phase two, the information will be analyzed, and the RAD team will propose automation, elimination, reduction or other actions to those responsible for the administrative programs identified for improvement during phase one. Phase three will be the execution of the reduction measures and must be complete by September 30, when the RAD team will announce the progress made to date, monitor the impact and plan for the next cycle.

A Joint Environment Changes Everything

July 1, 2013
By Max Cacas

Rear Adm. Robert Day Jr., USCG, assistant U.S. Coast Guard commandant for command, control, communications and information technology, sees the Joint Information Environment as an opportunity to resolve some of the most pressing information technology problems in the years to come as he faces a future with more challenges and fewer resources. He says a military-wide common operating environment will establish “enterprisewide mandates that programs cannot ignore.”

The admiral told the recent AFCEA Solutions Series–George Mason University Symposium, “Critical Issues in C4I,” the Joint Information Environment (JIE) will allow for more efficient system configurations and facilitate consolidation of the Coast Guard’s information technology work force. As the director of the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, he also is mindful that the JIE will improve his ability to control what devices are attached to the network, giving him, for example, the opportunity to quickly detect and order the removal of an unauthorized USB thumb drive inserted into a secure network computer.

Hewing to the reality of doing more with less, the admiral also told conference attendees that within the next eight months, the Coast Guard is expected to move to the U.S. Defense Department’s enterprise email system. Adm. Day stated that even though this move initially may cost more in some cases, the long-term benefits to the service will mitigate and justify some of those costs. In addition, acknowledging the futility of reinventing the wheel, he noted that the Coast Guard is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s Virtual Flight Bag, which replaces nearly 300 pounds of printed manuals and charts carried aboard aircraft by crews. Apple iPads will be loaded with digital copies of the same material.

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