Navy issues RFP for shipboard network

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command released a request for proposals on April 3 for the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program’s Increment 1. The RFP covers the design, development, integration and production of a common computing environment and tactical network for Navy ships.

CANES is the shipboard counterpart to the Navy’s Next-Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN), and a component of the Navy’s Naval Networking Environment 2016 (NNE 2016) vision, as articulated by Navy Chief Information Officer Robert Carey.

While the Navy has moved in the past toward commercial off-the-shelf hardware for much of its shipboard command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infrastructure, SPAWAR spokesman Steven Davis said that CANES represents a major shift in the way the Navy buys C4ISR systems.

Because CANES will allow new applications to be added as components of a network instead of stovepiped systems, officials of the Navy’s SPAWAR and Program Executive Office for C4I Tactical Networks Program Office believe that CANES will yield “significant financial savings for the government and (speed) the delivery of required capability to the fleet,” Davis said.

While a separate system from NGEN, which is to deliver network services ashore to the Navy and Marine Corps, there’s a great deal of work being done to align the two programs, according to Adm. Bill Goodwin, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations overseeing the NGEN System Program Office (NGEN SPO). “That’s my part in the vision of the common environment of 2016,” he said at the NGEN Industry Day on March 31. “There are teams looking at how we integrate the two, maybe not complete integration but at least interoperability.

Interoperability is critical to ensure that units like carrier air wings can move from ashore to afloat and have at least a compatible network environment to plug into, he said.

The design of CANES will have to deviate in many ways from NGEN’s approach, if only because of bandwidth, said Dr. John Gauss, the NGEN SPO acquisition division head.

“You’re tethered with a satellite network that doesn’t have the bandwidth of the terrestrial environment,” Gauss said. “That said, there are a lot of things that can be done to achieve interop between afloat and ashore.”

One area Gauss pointed to as needing to be resolved to reach that interoperability is Common Access Card single sign-on. “There are technology issues that have to be resolved so that that CAC card will work,” he said.

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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