How To Keep New Technology From Crippling The U.S. Navy

How to keep new technology from crippling the U.S. Navy:

12.9.2019

How to keep new technology from crippling the U.S. Navy:

The Navy has an enormous appetite for new technology. But again and again, with the Littoral Combat Ship, the Zumwalt class destroyer, and the Ford class aircraft carrier, vessels are being delivered incomplete with cutting-edge systems that are malfunctioning. Here's what the Navy needs to do.

Given that research and development hard to fund these days, Navy innovation aboard ships and subs are now frequently blended into big procurements as immature, untested and poorly thought-out subsystems. This corner-cutting habit of hiding research and development in a big, expensive vessel procurement or forcing new technologies into an ongoing combatant production run has a real cost. And today, after taking too many research and development shortcuts, the U.S. Navy is feeling the pinch as it shifts to confront a rapidly changing maritime threat environment.

The U.S. Navy must learn to say “enough”, and build combatants that work while directing new and untested ideas towards a vibrant, well-funded prototyping program.

America’s constant struggles with new naval ships demonstrates that the need for full-scale prototyping at the platform (ship and submarine) level and at the basic systems (engine, reactor, elevator, HVAC and so forth) levels have not gone away. Flashy cost-savings initiatives like computer models are wonderful tools, but they still struggle to capture integration risks and can be based on inaccurate or unrealistic performance data. Insight that a mundane welding technique is insufficient in a pipe bend, or that a platform cannot work in salt water, or that the system is simply not sailor-proof are often only discovered when the first examples are built and tested in realistic conditions.

Read more: Forbes

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