The U.S. Navy is exercising innovative ways of procurement to modernize its force to meet growing foreign threats. Acquisition alternatives may hold the key as the sea services gird for great power competition around the globe.
The United States and NATO are facing greater threats from the Russian Federation, and a growing interest from China, in the waters of the North Atlantic and the Arctic, warned Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, USN, who spoke Tuesday at AFCEA International and IEEE’s MILCOM conference in Norfolk, Virginia.
The dual-hatted commander oversees both the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet and NATO’s new Joint Force Command Norfolk. To combat rising threats and provide stability, both commands must improve their operational abilities in these northern waters, he said.
Between October 25 and November 7, 50,000 military participants from 31 nations will conduct a defensive live exercise in the North Atlantic and Baltic Sea. One of the largest exercises ever, the NATO event, Trident Juncture 18, is meant to ensure that NATO forces “are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction,” according to a statement from the alliance.
This month is a crucial time for the U.S. Navy, as far as information technology goes. Its Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems is developing the request for proposal for its Next Generation Enterprise Network Re-compete contract that will provide information technology services, including cloud services, for more than 700,000 Navy and Marine Corps users.
Mixed reality technologies, including augmented reality or virtual reality, are changing the way the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps handle system training, operations, maintenance and prototyping. Augmented reality is a combination of computer-generated images partially overlaid on a real-world view. In virtual reality, which has been around for decades, a user’s vision is obscured and totally replaced with computer-generated graphics. Both technologies visually employ degrees of computer-generated information. With the help of the Navy’s Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality laboratory in San Diego, the services are looking into both types of mixed reality applications using low-cost commercial off-the-shelf technologies.
Employing modern statistical inference tools can provide the U.S. Navy a bridge to improved searching and tracking for people, planes and ships across land and sea. The ability of the tools to incorporate even spotty intelligence data to help locate individuals elevates the Navy’s command and control posture and ultimately aids in protecting the United States from security threats.
The U.S. Navy has identified laser weapons as an urgent capability need, and after many years of development, it is moving rapidly to deploy advanced laser capabilities in the near term to the fleet. The Navy is pursuing the highest-powered lasers, beginning with 60-kilowatt systems and aiming for 150-kilowatt-class systems, to be used on guided missile destroyers. Through its Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems, the Navy would be the first service to have a program of record for laser energy weapons.
The ability of the U.S. Navy to maneuver during combat will soon be as important in the airwaves as it is in the air and the waves. The sea service has designated information warfare a domain as critical as its more commonly known physical counterparts, and the capacity to exploit and operate within it may hold the key to prevailing in future maritime conflicts.
The U.S. Navy has outsourced geospatial intelligence at sea, delaying its investment in a solution to this core intelligence competency for the afloat commander. The service needs to train its analysts to produce geospatial intelligence and acquire software and hardware for them. A cost-effective systems solution exists, but the lack of commitment to geospatial intelligence holds the Navy back.
U.S. military medical researchers are using radiation to close in on a vaccine to eliminate malaria, the top infectious disease threat to troops in affected areas, according to the Defense Department. The vaccine would replace preventive measures that are only partly effective against the mosquito-borne killer.
There is a huge difference for combat troops between being told a mortar has destroyed their command outpost and seeing the destruction firsthand. Certainly, blowing things up comes with a variety of risks and costs. This is one key reason that the U.S. Defense Department has turned to augmented reality technologies for many of its operational tasks.
Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and cognitive computing soon could be setting sail to aid the U.S. Navy in its battle to conquer cyberspace. Such capabilities could hold the key to improving cyber defense, while other approaches are making their way into offensive cyber operations, says the Navy’s top cyber officer.
Some technologies the Navy seeks are dual-use in the sense that they can be employed by defenders as well as attackers. Automation, for example, is being used by nation-states to probe and prey upon large blocks of Internet protocol (IP) space in both the military and commercial realms. Yet defenders also may rely on automation to help detect and respond to cyberthreats early in an attack.
Here are some additional highlights from the AFCEA NOVA Chapter's 10th Annual Naval IT Day, held at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel in Tysons Corner, Va., last Thursday.
"Get it done quickly" is the mantra of Chris Miller, Executive Director of the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Center, Atlantic (SPAWAR), which is also referred to as the Navy's Information Dominance Systems Command. While SPAWAR's Pacific office handles research and development, Miller's group, based in Charleston, N.C. is responsible for acquisitions and getting technology on board ships and into the hands of warfighters.
Saving the Earth, and saving lives: these tenets go hand-in-hand, and the U.S. Navy is standing at the bowsprit of technology development to advance the state of the art in the fleet's use of natural fuels.
Or rather, insignia. The U.S. Navy's chief of naval operations has approved officers and enlisted to wear the Information Dominance Corps Warfare insignia once they have completed a qualification program.
The warfare insignia was created to provide a common link among the IDC communities and to institute a rigorous qualification program to identify the Navy's information dominance professionals. The IDC will consist of more than 44,000 active and Reserve Navy officers, enlisted and civilian professionals who specialize in information-intensive fields.
According to Defense Secretary Gates, the Navy plans to repeal its ban on women serving on submarines. He signed a letter to Congress last week that outlines the Navy's plan to lift the policy by phasing in women assigned to subs. No change can take effect until Congress has been in session for 30 days following the notification.
For more information, read the full press release.
The value of the virtual realm for training has been recognized for some time, but now artificial reality is being exploited for many other applications. Web 2.0 capabilities have opened new doors in cyberspace, and people and organizations are embracing the new world of virtual collaboration. The only limits to using this make-believe realm may be those of human imagination. SIGNAL's May issue looks at ongoing efforts to explore collaboration in the virtual world. One picture may tell a thousand words, but sometimes it takes more than that to generate a particular image. That was the case with the cover of this month's SIGNAL Magazine.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is the chief research center for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Its home page highlights ongoing projects across a range of disciplines. Visitors can access information about programs in areas such as expeditionary maneuver warfare; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); ocean battlespace sensing; sea warfare and weapons; and naval air warfare and weapons. Each of these sections drills down into areas highlighting specific research programs focusing on autonomous systems and sensor fusion.
The U.S. Navy has successfully conducted the first large-scale test of a technology that enables commanders to communicate with a submerged submarine, regardless of its speed and depth. In the final evaluations of the Deep Siren tactical paging system, which were held in June and August, a Navy submarine deployed special communications buoys that reached the surface to establish a communications link between the vessel and the test team in Norfolk, Virginia. The Deep Siren buoys can receive and transmit satellite communications, converting them to acoustic signals.
The U.S. Navy has commissioned the first littoral combat ship (LCS). The 378-foot USS Freedom features interchangeable mission packages so that it can be reconfigured for antisubmarine, mine and surface warfare on an as-needed basis. It is filled with advanced networking capabilities that enable it to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships and submarines as well as with joint units. USS Freedom can operate in water that is less than 20 feet deep and can travel at speeds exceeding 40 knots.