Executive Summary

CONTEXT

The Committee on Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities was asked to examine the naval and joint operational concepts embraced in Sea Power 21 and Marine Corps Strategy 21, together known as Naval Power 21,1 and to identify naval aviation capabilities that would enable these operational concepts. The committee was also asked to recommend science and technology (S&T) opportunities to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that could support these future naval aviation capabilities and address any capability gaps.2 However, the committee was not presented with any vision, strategy, or implementation plans by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) or ONR regarding the role of naval aviation in satisfying the goals of Naval Power 21. Future capabilities that might be deployed were not identified, nor were existing capability gaps discussed at any length.

Based on its examination of the naval and joint operational concepts implicit in Naval Power 21 and drawing on the collective experience and expertise of its members, the committee identified seven “disruptive” capabilities inherent in or

1  

See ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, 2002, “Sea Power 21,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 10, pp. 32-41; Gen James L. Jones, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1999, Marine Corps Strategy 21, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., July; and Hon. Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy, ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen James L. Jones, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 2002, Naval Power 21 … A Naval Vision, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., October.

2  

The terms of reference are given in full in Appendix A.



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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities Executive Summary CONTEXT The Committee on Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities was asked to examine the naval and joint operational concepts embraced in Sea Power 21 and Marine Corps Strategy 21, together known as Naval Power 21,1 and to identify naval aviation capabilities that would enable these operational concepts. The committee was also asked to recommend science and technology (S&T) opportunities to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that could support these future naval aviation capabilities and address any capability gaps.2 However, the committee was not presented with any vision, strategy, or implementation plans by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) or ONR regarding the role of naval aviation in satisfying the goals of Naval Power 21. Future capabilities that might be deployed were not identified, nor were existing capability gaps discussed at any length. Based on its examination of the naval and joint operational concepts implicit in Naval Power 21 and drawing on the collective experience and expertise of its members, the committee identified seven “disruptive” capabilities inherent in or 1   See ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, 2002, “Sea Power 21,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 10, pp. 32-41; Gen James L. Jones, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1999, Marine Corps Strategy 21, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., July; and Hon. Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy, ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen James L. Jones, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps, 2002, Naval Power 21 … A Naval Vision, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., October. 2   The terms of reference are given in full in Appendix A.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities implied by Naval Power 21 (a list meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive)—that is, capabilities that would profoundly change current modes of operation, greatly improve the effectiveness of war fighting, and contribute significantly to the realization of Naval Power 21. Each of these capabilities—multispectral defense, unmanned air operations, hypersonic weapons delivery, fast-kill weapons, heavy-lift air transport, intelligent combat information management, and omniscient intelligence—is discussed in this report in terms of its benefits to naval aviation, why each is considered disruptive, and how each relates to at least one or more of the four pillars of Naval Power 21. In addition, the committee addressed some of the S&T opportunities and focused development efforts required to make the disruptive capabilities a reality for naval aviation and Naval Power 21. As is the case for the capabilities list, the set of S&T opportunities discussed is not exhaustive. Committee members used their experience and expertise to provide a high-level assessment and to suggest where emphasis should be placed with respect to investments in Discovery and Invention (D&I) programs (6.1 and early 6.2) and Exploitation and Deployment (E&D) programs (late 6.2 and 6.3). The D&I programs tend to be longer term and higher risk and for the purposes of this study tend to fall into the 2011 to 2025 time frame. The shorter-term, generally less technically risky E&D programs are aimed for early insertion into the fleet and transition in the 2007 to 2010 time frame. Wherever possible, the committee categorizes the S&T opportunities as (1) naval unique (required only by naval missions), (2) naval essential (important for naval missions and non-naval missions), and (3) naval relevant (useful for both naval and non-naval missions). Not intended as an in-depth technical review of the current naval aviation programs at ONR, this study identifies promising naval aviation S&T opportunities and capabilities that might enable, in the time frames indicated, the naval and joint operational concepts expressed in Naval Power 21, the Navy and Marine Corps strategic vision of future war fighting, and Joint Vision 2020. STRATEGIC PLANNING Naval aviation badly needs a clearly stated vision and strategic plan to focus its future. Moreover, NAVAIR and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) have the primary responsibilities for creating a naval aviation strategic S&T plan that identifies needed capabilities and the technology developments that can, over time, provide those capabilities. ONR (with the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL)) must be an essential partner with NAVAIR in developing a naval aviation strategic S&T plan. During the course of this study, the Chief Technology Officer of NAVAIR acknowledged to the committee the need for such an S&T plan and agreed to develop one over the following year in conjunction with ONR. The Chief of

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities Naval Research addressed the committee and agreed that ONR would work closely with NAVAIR in the development of a strategic S&T plan for naval aviation. NAVAIR Program Executive Offices along with ONR/NRL scientists and technologists must be active participants in the creation of this plan. One of the goals should be to create a much closer strategic partnership between the organizations than currently exists. S&T PLANNING AND EXECUTION As part of its study, the committee was able to observe how S&T activities in naval aviation at ONR were organized, planned, funded, and executed and also was briefed on the planning processes used by the Army and the Air Force. The committee was thus able to compare the technical portfolio approach used at ONR and the systems enginnering approach, called integrated product and process development, used by the Air Force, and it developed recommendations on ways to improve the S&T planning and execution processes at ONR. The committee also learned that congressional add-ons constitute a significant fraction of the ONR funding for naval aviation S&T—a cause for concern since the funding for these projects supplants core S&T program funding and distorts strategic planning by inserting short-term, unanticipated projects that historically have not resulted in new capabilities for naval aviation. As ONR develops a strategic naval aviation S&T plan in response to the goals of Naval Power 21, the committee hopes that congressional add-ons will be replaced by core funding. FINDINGS Finding 1. NAVAIR currently lacks a naval aviation strategic plan that identifies capability gaps and technology development needs. A technology development plan established in cooperation with ONR does not exist. NAVAIR and ONR acknowledged the lack of a strategic plan for naval aviation’s role in Naval Power 21. Both agreed that a naval aviation strategic S&T plan was essential, and both agreed to remedy the situation. As this study was being finalized, NAVAIR drafted the Naval Aviation Vision 2020 document.3 The committee believes this is a step in the right direction in forming the basis for such a strategic plan. 3   As a result of a cooperative effort sparked by the present study, NAVAIR and ONR have issued the document Naval Aviation Vision 2020 (see VADM James M. Zoortman, USN, Commander, Naval Air Forces; VADM Walter B. Massenburg, USN, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command; and RDML Thomas J. Kilcline, Jr., USN, Director, Air Warfare Division, 2005, Naval Aviation Vision 2020, Naval Aviation Enterprise, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C. Available online at <http://www.nae.cnaf.navy.mil/demo/main.asp?ItemID=12>. Last accessed on September 30, 2005).

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities Finding 2. The concepts expressed in Naval Power 21 reflect a farsighted, aggressive, and challenging vision of future naval warfare for which neither a strategic operational plan nor a detailed implementation plan yet exists. Thus, capability needs and gaps for naval aviation have not yet been formally identified. Finding 3. The strategic S&T planning processes of both the Army and the Air Force contain much that the committee believes could help the Navy in its planning process. Finding 4. Current ONR planning appears to be largely ad hoc, with unclear goals against which to assess progress or ultimate value. The committee was unable to assess the relevance of current naval aviation S&T programs funded by ONR or their completeness in furnishing needed capabilities for Naval Power 21. No institutional process is currently in place at ONR to create or contribute to a vision of naval aviation for the future. Finding 5. ONR’s organization according to technical discipline makes it difficult for ONR to support cross-disciplinary areas, such as naval aviation. ONR currently lacks a formal process for managing naval aviation S&T, which involves multiple disciplines and programs located in six different ONR organizations. There is currently no single program manager with authority to approve a budget and long-term planning/direction setting for naval aviation S&T across ONR. Finding 6. ONR does not use a systems engineering approach in the planning and execution of its technology development. As a result, projects are developed ad hoc and appear to be “opportunity” driven rather than “requirements” driven. Technology gaps are not systematically identified and thus are not well defined. Systems analysis is not used to determine technology priorities or investment strategies. Finding 7. The committee believes that the large number of congressionally directed aviation projects at ONR is counterproductive to ONR’s naval aviation S&T efforts. These projects supplant the budget for core S&T efforts, add to the workload of administrators and managers, and distort planning with the introduction of short-term, unexpected projects that rarely transition into future naval capabilities. The committee views current congressional add-ons not as a measure of success for ONR, but rather as a burden and a distortion of good S&T practice. Additional findings are presented in Chapters 2 through 4.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendation 1. To enable the capabilities for naval aviation operations as envisioned in Naval Power 21, the Chief of Naval Research, in partnership with NAVAIR, should lead the development of a naval aviation strategic S&T plan. As this study was being finalized, the Commander of Naval Air Forces, the Commander of NAVAIR, and the Director of the Air Warfare Division in OPNAV created the document Naval Aviation Vision 2020, which can provide a basis for the development of this strategic S&T plan. This plan should be updated annually in synchronization with the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System process. It should also be considered in the naval aviation S&T plans of the Army and the Air Force. Recommendation 2. ONR should establish a formal process for the identification of key S&T approaches that will identify and address naval aviation capability gaps. A methodology should be developed for analyzing options and selecting preferred approaches based on a systems perspective that includes technology trade-offs, maturity, risks, cost, impact, and so on. A methodology should also be developed for connecting novel concepts and potential breakthroughs into a naval aviation strategic S&T plan such that they receive attention, undergo development, and have a path into the acquisition domain. Recommendation 3. ONR should consider the S&T planning processes used by the Army and the Air Force as a source of potential guidance in developing a naval aviation strategic S&T plan. Recommendation 4. As ONR develops a naval aviation strategic S&T plan, consideration should be given to the following disruptive aviation capabilities, each of which can be traced to at least one of the four components—Sea Shield, Sea Strike, Sea Basing, and FORCEnet—of Naval Power 21: Multispectral defense, Unmannned air operations, Hypersonic weapons delivery, Fast-kill weapons, Heavy-lift air transport, Intelligent combat information management, and Omniscient intelligence. Science and technologies in which ONR could pursue advances to enable each of these capabilities are discussed in Chapter 3. Recommendation 5. The Chief of Naval Research should establish a single point of responsibility for the development of a naval aviation strategic S&T plan at ONR.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities This responsibility must include both budget and direction-setting authority, even though the technology development will occur in several different organizations. This would enable development of a prioritized, balanced, and well-integrated program that has a high probability of transitioning technology into the operational naval forces. Recommendation 6. The Chief of Naval Research should strengthen ONR’s analytic capabilities. A cadre of systems analysis personnel who can interface between the mission capability analysis personnel at OPNAV and the Navy Warfare Development Command and the scientists and technologists at ONR is needed to support strategic planning for naval aviation S&T. Recommendation 7. With the establishment of a naval aviation strategic S&T plan and the identification of critical gaps in capabilities for naval aviation, ONR should inform and educate congressional staffers about technologies and capabilities that would significantly advance the closure of such gaps, thus turning a currently burdensome relationship into a strategic supportive force. Additional recommendations are offered in Chapters 2 through 4.