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How the US Navy Can Fast-Track Building 500 Warships

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

A ship-launched drone sees an enemy submarine surface miles from a Carrier Strike Group, and instantly transmits target and location data to ship-based command and control, giving commanders an immediate strike window through which to launch an aircraft to attack the target or even fire a torpedo or missile from the deck of the ship. 

How can all of these seemingly separate entities, such as a drone, fighter jet and ship-based command and control, coordinate targeting and fire control data fast enough to succeed in destroying the threat? 

This kind of scenario is exactly what the Navy’s current technologically-driven modernization strategy is seeking to enable. The Navy’s modernization strategy is intended to built a multi-domain synergistic connectivity between air, surface, undersea and even land.

In order to accomplish this and put this kind of seamless, cross-force networking, the Navy has embarked upon a comprehensive modernization strategy based upon engineering a common set of technical standards.

The Navy wants to architect its entire fleet and suite of emerging technologies and platforms with a common hardware and software configuration to enable sustained modernization and multi-domain networking for decades into the future.

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The premise is built upon the often cited term “open architecture,” referring to a common system of IP protocols, gateways and data transfer standards which, among many things, enable “interfaces” between otherwise disparate or separated platforms and systems. 

Operating within a common technical infrastructure, unmanned systems, fighter jets and surface ships could, for instance, modernize with compatible data protocols making information sharing more fluid and immediate.

This Navy development approach, outlined at the Navy’s Sea Air Space Symposium by Ryan Moore, Deputy Major Program Manager for Integrated Weapons Systems, is intended to ensure a progressive modernization trajectory aimed at upgrading, networking and aligning software and hardware development across a common technical baseline. More described this in terms of a transition.

A next generation destroyer called DDG(X) is designed to sail alongside existing DDG 51 destroyers

“We're trying to do common hardware and software on the respective platforms. And then by leveraging commonality, it'll allow us to rapidly address any issues that come up, because there'll be common systems. This will also allow us to build capability that can be developed, integrated and tested. So capability unravels the multiple platforms at a given time,” Moore said at SAS.

“So as opposed to taking multiple years to develop, integrate, test, ,we're going to develop a little test all little and learn a lot. It's kind of the build test build approach,” Moore said.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President