Navy outlines plans for tech-centric weapons systems

The beginning of a new year is not only tax season, but budget season as well, as President Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2016 budget earlier this week. Several agencies have been busy briefing the public on the funding their departments have requested for the next year and beyond. The Navy as also joined in, rolling out its Future Naval Capabilities Program Objective Memorandum 2016 New Starts at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo today. 

The Navy is keeping an eye focused on several key defensive systems, as indicated in its funded New Starts. Among them, the programs include Operational Planning Tool, Densified Propellant Fire from Enclosure – Confined Space Propulsion Technologies, Combined Electro-optical/Infrared Surveillance and Response System, Ship-launched Electronic Warfare Extended Endurance Decoy, Softkill Performance and Real-Time Assessment and Reactive Electronic Attack Measures.  

The Operational Planning Tool is a task-centered mission-planning software that will assist in route changes and route planning. It includes an automated navigational system and is capable of extracting relevant command and control, navigation and technical data allowing for simpler decision making. 

Densified Propellant Fire from Enclosure – Confined Space Propulsion Technologies benefit warfighters by providing fire from enclosure capability, confined space launching capability, improved urban warhead penetration with minimal weight increase, Navy officials said.

The Combined Electro-optical/Infrared Surveillance and Response System provides for enhanced detection of small boats, anti-ship weapons, periscopes and unmanned aircraft while also upgrading defense against electro-optical/infrared guided weapons sensors. Developers aimed to combine an EO/IR surveillance and response solution for use on ships to combine the kill chain of threat detection, identification, tracking, engagement and assessment of engagement effectiveness.

With the Ship-launched Electronic Warfare Extended Endurance Decoy, researchers also want to provide a ship-launched, rapid-detection, long-endurance, expendable flight vehicle that would support electronic warfare payloads. It will; help defend against pop-up and sustained missile attacks. Additionally, it can be outfitted on most ships. 

Softkill Performance and Real-Time Assessment enables for real-time detection of threats and, in turn, real-time adjustments to counter such threats.

Reactive Electronic Attack Measures delivers detection and classification techniques for identifying waveform agile radar threats and responding automatically with electronic attacks. This will bolster electronic warfare defenses against unknown threats.   

In addition to the funded New Starts, Dr. Thomas Killion, director of ONR’s Office of Technology, said at the Expo that the unfunded New Starts are also important because they demonstrate what the Navy will need in the future, adding that there will be opportunities in the future to provide funding for these areas.  For example, the Navy has placed an emphasis on autonomous systems that they were not able to include in the funded New Starts. Such autonomous systems include Autonomous Unmanned Surface Vehicles for Mine Warfare Operations, which will reduce minefield clearance timelines via night operations and enable the use of low-bandwidth radio-frequency communications and Autonomous Reacquisition Manipulator System, an underwater system to detect and remove mines and improvised explosive devices.     

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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