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December 2012

New Ships Sail in the Persian Gulf

December 1, 2012
By Rita Boland

Through a foreign military
 sales program that sends ocean vessels to Iraq, officials hope to facilitate stability in the area.

Though operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn officially have come to an end, U.S. military support to the nation that contained the conflicts has not. The U.S. Navy has completed its transfer of platforms to its counterpart in the Middle East via a program to arm the developing sea service for its maritime challenges. Training and other support activities will continue in this effort designed to shore up maritime security in the region as well as to improve relations between the recent partners.

By the end of this year, the U.S. Navy plans to have delivered all 14 of the purchased ships for a total of 12 35-meter coastal patrol boats and two 60-meter offshore support vessels (OSVs) to the Iraqi navy through an approved Foreign Military Sales program. The patrol boats are fast-attack vessels that can reach speeds of 30 knots and are armed with a 30-millimeter gun weapon system built to operate in littoral waters. They are designed to accommodate a crew of 25 members. Since 2010, these coastal craft have been delivered incrementally, with one delivered that year, five delivered in 2011, and three provided this year in March.

The two OSVs were delivered late in 2012. These multifunctional ships support oil production platforms through command and control functions associated with the security of those platforms and other afloat forces. Sailors also can transport platform crews and supplies on the OSVs and assist other patrol boat crews with provisions, repairs and refueling. Each vessel is equipped with guns and fast-attack boats as well as a vertical replenishment deck to facilitate the transfer of people and supplies.

NGEN Bidders Offer
 Continuity With Change

December 1, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The program may be revolutionary, but its product is evolutionary.

Despite its sea-change approach to acquisition, the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Enterprise Network program is being designed to evolve from its predecessor, the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, in bids submitted by the two teams vying for the multibillion-dollar contract. The two bidders are focusing their efforts on the transition between the two networks, which is a process that will take several years.

Two teams are competing for the ground-breaking Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) program. One, led by Hewlett-Packard (HP), includes AT&T, IBM, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The other, led by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and Harris, includes Dell, General Dynamics and Verizon. They have submitted bids based on an request for proposal (http://bit.ly/signalngen0512) issued by the Navy earlier this year. NGEN is designed to replace the Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) early next year (SIGNAL Magazine, December 2011, page 18, “NGEN Race Heats Up”).

The teams offer varying emphases on the value of their proposals. However, they both stress the importance of the transition from the NMCI to NGEN, and they state that their proposals are designed to ensure stability while easing in innovation.

Bill Toti, vice president and account executive, HP Navy and Marine Corps Accounts, offers that his team’s bid is strengthened by the fact that the team includes the progenitors of the NMCI. “We’re the only people who have ever done this,” he declares, adding that this is a consideration that the Navy will have to take into account during source selection.

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.

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