Thursday, February 5, 2015

Naval operations chief stresses need for ship-based laser weapons, unmanned undersea drones, cyber security

Richard R. Burgess, Seapower, Feb 4

WASHINGTON – The chief of naval operations (CNO) asked the naval research enterprise and its academic and industry partners to help the Navy modernize in the next two decades as it tries to outpace the increasing capabilities of its actual and potential adversaries.
Speaking Feb.4 to an audience at the Future Naval Force Forum sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the American Society of Naval Engineers in Washington, ADM Jonathan Greenert said that “technological lead is perishable,” and that the Navy and Marine Corps needed “relevant capability” to maintain a warfighting lead in the future.
“We’ve got to get things moving,” Greenert said. “Over the next 15 to 20 years, we’ve got to modernize.”
Greenert used the phrase “speed to fleet,” “getting things out there and trying them out as soon as possible.”
The CNO noted that all of the nation’s nuclear deterrent force structure – ballistic-missile submarines, long-range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missile – are coming due for replacement or modernization, and that the next-generation strike fighter concept will be taking shape.
Greenert cited several examples of technological successes: the new radar on the E-2 aircraft; the towed array, which he said was “the key reason why we own the undersea domain;” and the new Zumwalt-class destroyer, which has the radar and acoustic signature of the tugboat alongside it.
The CNO listed three investment priorities for naval research, the first being a change in weapon technology.
“You have got to get us off gunpowder and rocket propellant,” he said. “The biggest vulnerability of a ship is its magazine.”
Although the round of a rail gun will cost $25,000, that price was far cheaper than a $1 million missile, he said, and that the cost of a shot of the Laser Weapon is about a dollar.
Second, Greenert asked for autonomy and more stamina in underwater propulsion to give unmanned underwater vehicles more range and endurance.
Third, the CNO pleaded with the industrial base to “lock your IT [information technology] down” with increased cyber security to stop the “losing of high-tech data from industry,” a danger that “kept him awake.”
“Cyber theft is hemorrhaging us,” he said.

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