U.S. Navy Steps Forward With CANES

December 21, 2012
By George I. Seffers
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The U.S. Navy’s next-generation tactical afloat network recently received approval to enter the production and deployment phase, Navy officials announced this week. The San Diego-based destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) was selected for first installation. The program was approved for limited fielding of 29 CANES units with 23 installations, eight of which are expected in the 2013 fiscal year.

Ultimately, CANES will be deployed to more than 190 ships, submarines and Maritime Operations Centers by 2020. Officials say they hope to reach a full-rate production decision in the 2014 fiscal year.

“We use a couple of criteria to determine in what order we do the platforms. First and foremost is the age of the legacy infrastructure. We’re trying to get those platforms that have the oldest and most problematic networks replaced first,” says Capt. D.J. LeGoff, USN, program manager for the Tactical Networks Program Office.

Preliminary work for the CANES installation on USS Milius already has begun, even though the milestone decision was only made December 14. Installation is expected to take about 18 weeks, but Navy officials point out that CANES is being installed during scheduled ship maintenance. “We’re not tying the ship up for 18 weeks just to put CANES on it,” explains Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, USN, program executive officer for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I). 

CANES consolidates and enhances five shipboard legacy network programs and will provide the common computing environment infrastructure for C4I applications that currently require system-specific infrastructure.  

“If you look at CANES, it’s doing for the Navy what a corporate [chief information officer] does. What we’re really doing is recapitalizing aging infrastructure. We have to do that because of the IA [information assurance] threats and to keep pace with the capabilities that are being asked to ride on that network,” says Capt. LeGoff. “As the applications and the systems that we connect to the network continue to grow in capacity, it is quickly outstripping—has in fact already outstripped—the legacy infrastructure.”

The Milestone C acquisition decision memorandum was approved by Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Navy officials describe CANES as being both a system and a new business model for delivering capability to the fleet. Combining five legacy networks into one allows the service to streamline support, training and operating procedures.

Consolidation through CANES also will provide an adaptable and responsive information technology platform to rapidly meet changing warfighter requirements and strengthen the network’s infrastructure, improve security and decrease total ownership costs. Furthermore, CANES will allow sailors to benefit from reduced operations and sustainment workloads as a result of common equipment, training and logistics.

Additionally, CANES significantly improves the Navy’s IA capabilities, officials say. “When we designed the legacy system, information assurance was not something that was foremost in our thoughts. It just wasn’t something we thought about 10 or 15 years ago. As a result, we end up doing a lot of back fitting and bolt-on fixes to try to contain our IA risk,” Capt. LeGoff explains. “With CANES, we’ve inverted that model. We took the IA as the core of the architecture and built out, so it is inherently more entwined with the core of the system. That makes it more protectable and upgradeable.”

The system underwent an operational assessment in September. While the final report from that assessment will not be available until early next year, initial evaluation contributed to a successful Milestone C decision, Navy officials said in a written statement.

Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded a potential $637 million CANES contract in February. Navy officials say they already have saved approximately $44 million on the program through competition, and they will continue to compete the program at different stages. In fact, the service just released a full deployment request for proposals on December 13.

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