ONR chief unveils new vision to reinvent naval power

Rear Adm. Lorin Selby, chief of naval research, delivers remarks at the HACKtheMACHINE unmanned competition in Alexandria, Va., Nov. 17. Unmanned HACKtheMACHINE is the first in a series of public-facing technology challenges aimed at accelerating discovery and team building between DoN, industry and academia for the creation of revolutionary unmanned and autonomous systems. US NAVY / Michael Walls

ARLINGTON, Virginia – Declaring “Our time to innovate is now,” Rear Admiral Lorin C. Selby, Chief of Naval Research (CNR), last week presented a new vision for future naval power, based on faster development of unmanned autonomous systems. , dynamic partnerships with industry and academia and redesigned naval training.

“I think this decade, the 2020s, will have special meaning for our nation and our role in running the world,” Selby told a national audience at the HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned event. “What can we do today to produce measurable results in two years, which lead to large-scale capabilities in five years, to fully realize this redesigned future? ”

Small, Agile, Many

A critical component of the Navy’s future success, he said, is incorporating advanced cyber-physical technologies found in the “small, agile and many” – small, unmanned, autonomous platforms that have the power to operate. agility to be built and adapted quickly, in large numbers, and at much lower costs compared to larger platforms. These unmanned aerial, ground and underground vehicles will carry an array of modern sensors and payloads, and perform multiple missions.

“The small, the agile and the many have great potential to define the future in a world where large and complex are either too expensive to generate en masse, or potentially too vulnerable to be endangered,” he said. -he declares.

“We’re talking about how to iterate at scale and at high speed. How to take elements that meet operational needs and integrate them into the force structure, deploying them in new naval formations “which” will confuse and confuse the tasks that our adversaries must consider “.

One of the advantages of this new formation’s small, nimble, and plentiful platforms is that Selby believes they can be built relatively inexpensively compared to the existing force structure. This makes them more fragile in high-end conflicts – in other words, if they are shot or taken out of action, US forces will have tens, if not thousands, of reinforcements in place. Having a large number of advanced but inexpensive platforms in the fleet to counter an opponent’s expensive platforms could play an important role in deterring aggressive actions.

Selby made his remarks during a keynote address at the HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned competition, which was held virtually November 16-19. This event, which spans several cities across the country, is a technological challenge for the public aimed at accelerating discovery and team building between the Department of the Navy, industry and academia.

The ultimate goal of such events, said Selby, is to create new ways of doing business for standalone systems and software. Comparing this moment in history to the dawn of the industrial revolution, when technological advancements brought about massive change, he noted that today, “data is the new oil and software is the new steel.” .

Sponsored by ONR, in collaboration with Program Executive Office (PEO) C41, PEO Integrated Warfare Systems, PEO Unmanned and Small Combatants, Navy’s Cybersecurity Office (PMW-130) and industry partners like Fathom5 and Booz Allen Hamilton , HACKtheMACHINE Unmanned is one of the ways the ONR is working to support the Navy’s 2021 Unmanned Task Force and integrate unmanned and autonomous technology at scale.

Strategic coverage

Selby stressed the importance of the current structure of the US naval forces requiring “strategic cover”. He noted that during World War II, the Navy was primarily invested in battleships as the core of combat power for any future conflict. However, the Navy and the nation had a “cover” investment in the structure of aircraft carriers and submarines. In the end, the hedge proved crucial to victory – much different from the start of the war, when battleships were seen by many as the key.

The small, the nimble and the many represent a viable hedge to support the large and complex platforms that form the backbone of today’s force structure. The rapid development of autonomous unmanned systems provides the technological engine to create a cover option for the Navy and Marine Corps of the 21st century. Developing this strategic coverage at ONR is one of the many ways the organization is helping the Navy and Marine Corps adapt to a potential future.

Finally, CNR stressed the importance of moving from the current requirements-driven procurement process – a successful process for large platforms, but not rooted in speed – to a “problem-driven” process, where The Naval Research Enterprise asks operators and commanders what problems they encounter and quickly creates solutions to resolve their problems.

This approach has already started. ONR provided dozens of unmanned platforms and sensors used in last April’s 2021 Integrated Combat Issue, which focused on a PACFLEET combat issue. In 2022, these efforts will continue, including partnering with SOUTHCOM to provide new tools for drug ban efforts.


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