The future national security environment will present the naval forces with operational challenges that can best be met through the development of military capabilities that effectively leverage rapidly advancing technologies in many areas. The panel envisions a world where the naval forces will perform missions in the future similar to those they have historically undertaken. These missions will continue to include sea control, deterrence, power projection, sea lift, and so on. The missions will be accomplished through the use of platforms (ships, submarines, aircraft, and spacecraft), weapons (guns, missiles, bombs, torpedoes, and information), manpower, materiel, tactics, and processes (acquisition, logistics, and so on.). Accordingly, the Panel on Technology attempted to identify those technologies that will be of greatest importance to the future operations of the naval forces and to project trends in their development out to the year 2035.
The primary objective of the panel was to determine which are the most critical technologies for the Department of the Navy to pursue to ensure U.S. dominance in future naval operations and to determine the future trends in these technologies and their impact on Navy and Marine Corps superiority. A vision of future naval operations ensued from this effort. These technologies form the base from which products, platforms, weapons, and capabilities are built. By combining multiple technologies with their future attributes, new systems and subsystems can be envisioned.
The panel also attempted to identify those technologies that are unique to the naval forces and whose development the Department of the Navy clearly must fund, as well as commercially dominated technologies that the panel believes the Navy and Marine Corps must learn to adapt as quickly as possible to naval
applications. Since the development of many of the critical technologies is becoming global in nature, some consideration is given to foreign capabilities and trends as a way to assess potential adversaries' capabilities.
Finally, the panel assessed the current state of the science and technology (S&T) establishment and processes within the Department of the Navy and makes recommendations that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this vital area.
Major Technology Application Areas
The panel identified more than 100 important technologies that will form the technology base for the future naval forces and grouped them into the following nine major application areas (Figure ES.1):
- Information and communications,
- Human performance,
- Power and propulsion,
- Environments, and
- Enterprise processes.
Each technology is described in the body of the report, its relevance to the Navy and Marine Corps identified, the current status established, and the future trends forecast. The developments necessary to achieve the benefits of the forecast, some estimates of the time scale for these developments, and the status of foreign capabilities are also assessed.
To compile a comprehensive list of technologies that are highly relevant to future naval operations, the panel not only relied on its own expertise but also surveyed numerous technologies used by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army and those under development by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and other government agencies. Future trends in these technologies, as expressed in such studies as STAR 211 and New World Vistas,2 were evaluated. The panel also evaluated new technologies in the commercial marketplace.
As expected, the panel had extensive discussions with the science and technology community of the Department of the Navy, including the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Naval Command, Control and Ocean Surveillance Center, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Marine Corps. A visit to the USS Yorktown, the U.S. Navy's ''smart" ship, proved particularly informative. The smart ship is a project sponsored by the Chief of Naval Operations to reengineer a combatant Aegis cruiser with new operational processes and procedures supported by new technologies in the short period of 12 months. The smart ship has achieved reductions in manpower and maintained operational capabilities through the use of advanced technologies. The success of the smart ship project rests on its ability to empower ship commanders, reduce cycle time, and take timely advantage of the latest technologies.
From the more than 100 technology areas important to future naval operations, the panel has extracted several specific technologies that will likely have the biggest impact on changing the way the Department of the Navy conducts operations in the future and that, because of their importance, deserve careful attention in the future. These include:
- Micro- and nanoscale technologies
- Microelectromechanical systems
- Nanoscale electronic circuits
- Systems-on-a chip;
- Teraflop affordable computers and petaflop high-performance computers;
- Genomics—the marriage of biotechnology, genetics, and electronics;
- Smart materials involving nanophase materials engineering;
- Ubiquitous wideband communications and connectivity;
- Global distributed collaboration;
- Multisensory virtual reality environments;
- Information warfare, defensive and offensive;
- Autonomous agents; and
- Signature management and warfare.
Technology Investment to Support Future Capability
For each of the more than 100 technologies identified in this report, the Panel on Technology attempted to determine whether the Department of the Navy must invest heavily in the future because of unique applications—such as torpedoes, stealth for ships and submarines, and unmanned underwater vehicles—or whether the commercial sector could be expected to drive future developments, such as those in computers, software, and materials, in which case the Department of the Navy must be a smart and active user that adapts the commercial technologies to naval forces' use.
The world of technology is advancing at a blistering pace. For example, the speed of computers, memory size, and associated elements have doubled every 18 months over the past 40 years. Many advanced technologies are now available globally and with the rapid expansion in telecommunications will continue to be available to future adversaries. To maintain technological superiority and dominance of the battlefield, the naval forces must reengineer themselves continually to exploit these rapid advances. In contrast to the past, many of these advances will come from the commercial sector. The rapid growth in information and telecommunication technologies is a good example. The Department of the Navy must be an agile user and adapt these commercial technologies rapidly for military use.
It is a daunting task to forecast technology trends some 40 years into the future. Everyone tends to be guided by experiences of the past. The panel knows that it will surely make mistakes, mostly of omission. For example, 40 years ago even the best technology minds missed the phenomenal growth and impact of computers on society. Merely identifying the future capability of a technology or how several technologies might be used together to create a new capability does not necessarily mean that these events will happen. Vision, belief in the forecasts, strategic planning based on that belief, investments in development and applications, and rapid adoption are all additional ingredients necessary to turn a technology dream into real systems for the future.
In future warfare, the naval forces will be operating predominantly in cooperative
engagements as part of joint and multinational task forces. This mode of operation brings the requirement for compatibility of communications, databases, and operating systems. The Navy and Marine Corps must adapt to this new environment through adherence to structured methodologies, international standards, open systems, and rapidly reconfigurable systems.
Investments in science and technology have served the naval forces well over the past 50 years. Military technology requirements will continue to drive the state of the art in the future. The panel strongly believes that the Department of the Navy must continue to support the development of those fundamental sciences and technologies that are relevant to naval operations. This includes the nurturing of discoveries and inventions in universities through prototype applications in industrial and government laboratories into full-scale proof-of-concept demonstrations. The panel sees no alternative to this course of action. No other government entity will ensure the advances and delivery of technologies of vital interest to naval operations. This is especially true of areas that are unique to the Navy, such as oceanography.
The panel is concerned that the research and development (R&D) emphasis within the Department of the Navy has shifted from longer-term research to shorter-term applied development. Accompanying this shift is an increase in the amount of process, auditing, and scrutiny that is distracting scientists and engineers in universities and industrial and government laboratories from the real work of research and development. This is not to say that scientists and engineers should be isolated from understanding the future needs of the naval forces. Those future needs should be made abundantly clear to members of the science community supported by the Department of the Navy; their efforts must be directed toward those objectives and they should be held accountable. Fundamental research is necessary for the future, and the Department of the Navy must recognize that making progress involves risk and failures. New ideas and concepts need receptive support and stable funding. Fundamental research should be buffered from the same criteria that are applied to higher-level development efforts.
Finally, the Department of the Navy should capitalize on the emerging technological opportunities described in this report, even in the face of severe budget constraints and reduced manpower. To do so demands prioritization of goals, significant changes in the way the Department of the Navy conducts business, tradeoffs between modernization and infrastructure, and the use of the technologies identified in this report, not only to ensure the dominant warfighting capability of naval forces, but also to reduce the size and cost of the infrastructure. It is clear to the panel that technologies, particularly information technologies, must be applied to a reengineered infrastructure to significantly reduce cost and to gain the needed resources to modernize weapon systems and platforms as well as retain within the naval forces the warfighters of the future.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The Panel on Technology makes the following recommendations to the Chief of Naval Operations:
- Information technology will dominate future warfare and must be elevated in priority. Rapid access to appropriate knowledge at all levels will optimize warfighting and crisis response capabilities. Commercial technologies in knowledge extraction, data management, and data presentation, together with unique military technologies in data fusion and automatic target recognition to deal with the increased complexity and tempo of warfare, must be pursued. Department of the Navy information systems should be protected against increased software and electromagnetic warfare attacks and other vulnerabilities. The Department of the Navy should develop offensive information and electronic warfare technologies to find, identify, and attack adversary systems and to strengthen naval systems.
- Computer technology will be a major enabler of future naval operations. Computers will enable enhanced situational awareness, realistic modeling and simulation, faster warfighting decisions, more effective weapons, lower-cost platforms, and more efficient and effective use of people. The Department of the Navy should exploit the continual evolution of commercial computer technologies into robust computational systems.
- The Department of the Navy should undertake early exploitation of the new innovations in commercial communication satellites and fiber optics to acquire the necessary increased bandwidth and diverse routing for future networking needs.
- Naval operations are increasingly dependent on enhanced sensor data to provide situational awareness, target designation, weapon guidance, condition-based maintenance, platform automation, personnel health and safety monitoring, and logistic management. The Department of the Navy should provide continuing support of sensor technology for areas critical to future naval operations. Special attention should be given to applications of microelectromechanical systems technology because it offers the advantage of low-cost, high-capability systems-on-a-chip that will enable future cooperative sensor networks.
- Automation increases manpower effectiveness and warfighting capability by performing routine functions, conducting superhuman and hazardous operations, and minimizing casualties. The Department of the Navy should field a vigorous program in the technologies for ship automation that will realize these benefits. Unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned underwater vehicles will play a major role in future naval warfare as surveillance, communication, targeting, and weapon-guidance platforms. The Department of the Navy should support technology developments to increase mission duration and operational capability, enhance sensor payloads, and increase survivability.
- Economic and social conditions will force the Navy and Marine Corps to
- conduct future missions with fewer people and lower overall manpower costs. To accomplish this, the Department of the Navy should exploit the technology advances in communications, information, health care, biotechnology and genetics, and cognitive processes to enhance human performance through expanded education and training, improved personal health and safety, and enhanced quality of life throughout the Navy and Marine Corps.
- Materials are used in every aspect of naval operations. In the future, entirely new and enhanced existing materials will be designed and manufactured using a computational approach in which the physical and mechanical properties of materials are understood on an atomic scale. The nanophase materials engineered in this way will be tailored to meet specific requirements and to be reliable and robust at lower life-cycle cost. The Department of the Navy should strongly support the development of this new materials design and processing approach.
- Direct electric drive for ships and submarines offers unique advantages for the future naval forces in the areas of reduced volume, modular flexible propulsion units, lower acoustic signatures, enhanced survivability, and the enabling of new capabilities. The power and propulsion technologies of efficient gas turbine propulsion units, modular rare-earth permanent magnetic motors, and power control modules have matured to the point that the Department of the Navy should place a high priority on the development of new all-electric ships with the associated drive, power-conditioning, and distribution systems. In the future, incorporation of superconductivity into motors, energy storage, and power distribution will further increase capabilities.
- Battle-space awareness, communications, target identification, navigation, weapon guidance, and tactical planning all require real-time understanding and forecasting of the atmospheric, space, and sea environments of operation. Global weather models with improved satellite data on winds, temperature, solar inputs, and so on will permit the generation of accurate weather forecasts. Space weather forecasting of solar disturbances, scintillation phenomena, and other disturbances will be modeled based on real-time satellite data. The Department of the Navy must support the development of this modeling capability. The Department of the Navy should continue to support the measurement and modeling of not only the deep-ocean environment, but also, especially, the littoral waters to improve mine and submarine detection.
- Large-scale processes within the Department of the Navy, such as platform acquisition, logistics management, resource planning, mission planning, and personnel management, are major cost drivers of naval operations. Information technologies are becoming available that can revolutionize the execution of these enterprise processes with a resultant substantial reduction in manpower, cycle time, risk, and cost. Simulation-based acquisition is an example of a revolutionary approach for the acquisition of complex platforms and systems. The Department of the Navy should strongly embrace and support these information technologies for enterprise-wide processes.
- Science and technology will continue to be the essential underpinning for maintaining superior Navy and Marine Corps warfighting capabilities. The Department of the Navy should follow a three-pronged strategy: (1) exploit rapidly evolving commercial technologies, such as computer, information, and communication technology, and biotechnology; (2) maintain technical leadership in noncommercial areas of naval importance, such as weapons, sensors, oceanography, and naval platforms; and (3) continue to support vigorously those areas of fundamental, long-term basic research, primarily conducted at universities, from which new understanding and new naval technologies evolve.