Overview of Technology Opportunities
The Panel on Technology identified and focused on the fundamental technologies of importance to the future operations of the Department of the Navy. The panel attempted to project the future trends in these technologies out to the year 2035 and assessed what impact they will have on future Navy and Marine Corps mission capabilities. Other panels in the study focused on future systems that will incorporate these technologies.
It is a daunting task to forecast technology trends some 40 years into the future. We tend to be guided by experiences of the past. The panel 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 today. 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 by the Navy are all additional ingredients necessary to turn a technology dream into real systems for the future.
Driving Technology Application Areas
The foundation of future naval superiority will be information. Computing capability, application software, and telecommunications are the underpinnings of this foundation. The panel therefore places a high priority on these Technologies which are growing and changing rapidly, driven predominantly by commercial business objectives. An explosive growth in commercial telecommunication
and in Earth-imaging satellites is under way. These global commercial services will have a profound impact on future naval operations. They will be available to cooperative forces as well as adversaries around the world. The Department of the Navy must adopt these services but adapt them to fit its particular needs while providing the necessary security.
Computers and related software that form computational capability are among the most important technologies that will control the makeup and performance of future naval forces. As information is key to military success, computation is key to information, its acquisition, its extraction, and its use. In Chapter 2, the panel examines the status and trends in computer hardware, software, and key applications, such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD).
Silicon microelectronics has been the engine of the tremendous computer technology growth over the past 40 years. The linewidths used in making computer chips have decreased exponentially, and the number of transistors per chip has increased correspondingly over this time period. This has resulted in ever-increasing computational power. Although the panel sees a number of practical problems that must be solved, there appears to be no fundamental physical limit to continuing this growth out to the year 2035, the time horizon of this study.
The panel analyzed and projected computer performance in two distinct families: high-performance computing and functional/affordable computing. High-performance computing represents the state of the art in computational speed, storage capacity, and transmission rates. The Cray T90 is an example of this type of computer. The panel studied the progression of such computers over the past 40 years and used these data to extrapolate into the future. The processing speed of high-performance computers has consistently increased at an annual rate of 60 percent, doubling every 18 months, or 100 times per decade. Many computer and materials scientists believe that the number of transistors per chip will continue to increase over the next 40 years despite the growing cost of fabrication facilities and likely changes in building-block materials, architectures, and lithography techniques.
The quest for ever-greater computing power will be driven by the demands of cyberspace, entertainment, and other commercial businesses. If the past trends continue, the operating speeds of high-performance computers in 2035 are expected to be in excess of 1 petaflop, i.e., 1015 floating point operations per second, and memory size will be 10 terabytes. It is estimated that the human brain has a processing power of 1 petaflop, and so computers in 2035 may well become on-body personal assistants that provide a high degree of intelligent support.
Functional or affordable computing refers to computers that are mass produced and sold at costs that make them accessible to many people. A current example is the Intel Pentium Pro personal computer. The growth in capability of
affordable computers has been somewhat slower than that of high-performance computers, with the processing speed doubling every 24 months. If this trend continues, a sailor or marine in 2035 will have access to a teraflop (1012 floating point operations per second) desktop computer at an affordable price.
Military computers in general applications have tended to lag in time behind the capabilities available in the civilian world. The exceptions to this are high-performance computers where the Department of Defense has been a major funding source for such as applications as nuclear weapons simulation. The challenge for the future Department of the Navy is to adopt the state of the art in commercially available computers as rapidly as possible into naval forces applications.
Chapter 2 also deals with the status and developments in the software languages that allow computers to perform applications. The evolution in software has been from assembly language to more compact, higher-order languages, which has resulted in an improvement in productivity, as measured in average cost per function point, of about 5 percent per year. The size of software application tasks has, however, continued to grow at a rate more like that for the computer-performance gains, i.e., at 60 percent per year, so that software runs a risk of being the Achilles heel of the information revolution. The error rate, in defects per line of code, also increases with the size of programs, compounding the productivity problem. The panel believes that a possible solution to the software dilemma is to create domains of expertise within naval operations, such as avionics, missile guidance, command and control, and so on, and to practice within these domains a higher degree of reuse of software modules and develop software logic synthesis tools, automatic programming tools, and other methods that will boost productivity significantly. Object-oriented programming, an approach that demands well-defined building blocks and that encourages reuse, should be a major factor in future software development.
Chapter 2 also treats the expected progress in digital and analog signal processing. Significant progress in this area is critically tied to progress in high-performance computing. The benefits of pattern recognition in automatic target detection have long been recognized, but empirical evidence over the past 30 years has shown this to be a very difficult problem. Neural networks, which have been shown to have good pattern recognition ability, do not seriously compete with human performance. Many believe that the human brain simultaneously attempts all possible solutions to a problem and is able to reach a conclusion by sheer computational power. As high-performance computational power in 2035 approaches that of the human brain, the performance of a wide range of pattern recognition technologies will substantially improve.
Computational fluid dynamics represents the use of modern computational techniques to model fluid flow. CFD is used extensively in aerodynamic design of modern aircraft and missiles and is coming into greater use in ship and submarine design. The modeling of turbulent flow is, however, a fundamental limitation in the technique, and continued support from the Department of the Navy to
develop better models to deal with strongly separated flows, flows in strong vortices, and flows in powered-lift vertical landing is needed. Achievement of laminar rather than turbulent flow over the entire surface of a vehicle could, in principle, reduce parasitic drag by as much as an order of magnitude while also lowering the target signature.
Information and Communications
Information and communications will dominate future naval warfare and must be elevated in priority within the Department of the Navy. Information technologies include the underlying computation capability, connectivity, and networking and the interaction of humans to reach decisions based on captured distributed knowledge. In Chapter 3, the panel addresses the technologies involved in distributed collaboration, software engineering, information presentation, human-centered systems, intelligent systems, planning and decision aids, communications, and defensive and offensive information warfare.
The panel views communications technologies as the backbone for connectivity of the naval forces. With the explosion in commercial communications via satellite and fiber, the panel envisions that in the time frame of this study, naval forces will have access to transparent wideband (capable of handling video data) global communications on demand. This capability (Figure 1.1), when coupled with the use of common databases and intelligent support systems, will provide naval forces, whether at sea or on land and anywhere in the world, with "any data all the time" access to information. Users will have full control over the quantity and quality of information that is needed to accomplish their mission. The concept is analogous to the capability made possible by the rapidly growing Internet. Much of this capability will come from the commercial sector. The
challenge for the Department of the Navy is to adapt to this commercial resource while maintaining secure operations and graceful degradation at times of conflict.
The Department of the Navy should develop strategies and practices for defending hardware and software systems of the future against attack by viruses, software agents, and externally generated radio-frequency signals. As information systems become more important, as computer chips become more dense and contain more functionality, as the Department of the Navy moves more to commercial sources of software, hardware, and communications, and as the need for greater interoperability increases, naval systems become more susceptible to deliberate attack. The emergence of low-cost, small-size, ultrawide-bandwidth (UWB) radio-frequency impulse transmitter systems that can deliver intense, disrupting pulses into electronic circuits creates a new threat that must be countered.
Since the United States currently has a commanding lead in the development of advanced information systems, the opportunity exists to exploit this lead to develop offensive information weapons of the future that would have the same or greater impact than bullets or missiles. The panel encourages the Department of the Navy to aggressively pursue these technologies and applications within the constraints of international agreements.
The Department of the Navy is a user of a wide variety of sensor systems including electromagnetic, acoustic, mechanical, chemical, biological, nuclear, environmental, and temporal. These sensors, as described in Chapter 4, are strongly constrained by the physics of the phenomena to be sensed, and hence the size, shape, material, and configuration are matched to the sensitivity required. Some of the technology trends that are common to all classes of sensors are the shift to solid-state electronics, a movement toward atomic-level devices (quantum wires and dots), digital implementation, distributed system implementation (networking, data fusion, and societies of microsensor), multidimensional signatures (multispectral, hyperspectral, and data fusion), and multifunctional sensor systems (common apertures for radar, communications, electronic warfare, and so on).
The critical technologies common to all sensor classes are semiconductors, superconductors, digital computers, and algorithms. The growth in these critical underlying technologies will determine the sensor capabilities available to future naval forces. The panel anticipates a significant change in the use of sensors as we know them today. Figure 1.2 illustrates the expected evolution in sensors over the time frame of this study. Today, a conventional sensor system is composed of a sensing element and one or more processing elements. Each element is discrete, relatively expensive, and subject to component failures. In the near future, the panel sees this situation moving to smart monolithic sensor systems,
enabled greatly by new technologies such as MEMS. These sensors-on-a-chip will be inexpensive, mass producible, and highly reliable and will contain far more intelligence and decision-making capability than today's sensors. In the 2035 time frame, the panel expects distributed societies of these smart monolithic sensors to form metasensors that cooperate and provide much more information about the operational environment and an adversary's capabilities.
The DOD has been and will continue to be a major driver of progress in advanced sensor systems. The Department of the Navy has specific sensor needs that will not be addressed by any other agency. These include sensors for sensing and imaging in littoral environments, synthetic aperture sonars (SAS), and communications in the ocean. The Department of the Navy should be the major investor in these sensor technologies.
In the future, affordable automation systems and equipment, as described in Chapter 5, will supplement or supplant many current operator functions in shipboard routine and casualty operations, such as firefighting and trauma care, to reduce ship size and manpower costs and to minimize the number of personnel exposed to hostile action.
Teleoperated and autonomous platforms including UUVs and UAVs will provide the Department of the Navy with new operational capabilities in undersea warfare, reconnaissance and surveillance, and control of the air battle space above the fleet and the expeditionary Marine Corps forces on land. UUVs will be operated both by submarines and surface combatants and will provide economical force multiplication, increased and extended underwater battle-space awareness, and reduction in exposure of humans to hostile action. UAVs will view the battle space with EO/IR and SAR and other types of sensors, participate in cooperative engagements against difficult targets, such as low observable sea-skimming missiles, collect enemy radar and communication signals, hunt mines
and submarines, jam enemy electronic systems, guide precision weapons, and potentially act as precision weapons themselves.
Autonomous navigation and guidance and automatic target recognition are among the fundamental technologies critical to these UUV, UAV, and other robotics systems. Expendable robots that can be used for reconnaissance and surveillance as well as weapon delivery platforms will also be pervasive.
During the next three decades, revolutionary developments are expected in several technology areas that will greatly enhance human performance in ways that will significantly benefit the Department of the Navy. In Chapter 6, the panel suggests that the following technologies are of particular significance to improvements in human performance: (1) communications, including global access to people and information sources, distance learning, and interactive multimedia information transfer; (2) information processing, including man-machine interface, computer-processing speed and memory, intelligent software, modeling and simulation, and embedded information (e.g., smart cards); (3) health care, including telemedicine, drug delivery systems, surgical techniques, and disease prevention and treatment; (4) biotechnology and genetics, including gene therapy, human genome mapping, DNA identification and categorization, susceptibility testing, disease diagnosis, and vaccine and drug development; and (5) cognitive processes, including knowledge of brain functions, optimal learning modes, memory-expanding drugs, and fatigue management. These areas will experience extraordinary leaps in knowledge and applicability in the foreseeable future.
These technological advances in human performance will have a profound impact on many aspects of life in the naval services, including education and training, operator performance, health and safety, and quality of life. The Department of the Navy has placed a high priority on reducing crew sizes both aboard ships and on shore. By adapting these technology improvements, the Department of the Navy can achieve a higher level of manpower readiness than ever before and potentially accomplish its mission with fewer, better-prepared people.
In Chapter 7, the panel envisions a systems approach to materials development in the future, whereby the physical and mechanical properties are understood on a fundamental atomic scale. Materials will be designed based on this atomistic approach, which will also be extended to process and fabrication simulation. The panel believes this computational materials design approach will enable breakthroughs in ferrous alloys, titanium matrix composites, polymer composites, high-temperature ceramics, wideband gap semiconductors, and smart
materials based on ferroelectrics, ferromagnetic materials, and ferroelastic materials. Unique nanophase materials for new applications and smart materials based on shape memory alloys, ferroelectrics, and ferromagnets that can be adapted for mechanical and electrical applications and on wideband gap semiconductors will be the technology drivers of the future.
Power and Propulsion
Warfare in the 21st century likely will bring the use of advanced technologies and combat systems with ranges, lethality, and detection capabilities surpassing anything known in contemporary warfare. In the battle zone surrounding and including the battle group and expeditionary forces, there will be requirements for electrical power at levels from tens of watts (for surveillance and communications) to kilowatts (for radar and a variety of electric motors) and hundreds of kilowatts (for field-based power demand) and multi-megawatts (for advanced weaponry and countermeasures systems). Mobility of all systems will be essential for survival and success.
In Chapter 8, electric power technology is evaluated in two areas: (1) power and distribution on the electric ship and (2) energy storage and recovery for ultimate power delivery. The electric ship area includes nuclear-electric, turboshaft engine, piston-type, magneto-hydrodynamic, and hydrocarbon-fueled generators for continuous and pulsed power and conditioning of that power for distribution aboard ships and submarines. The technologies available today and expected in the year 2035 are evaluated against six general figures of merit. In the energy storage and recovery area, primary batteries, secondary (rechargeable) batteries, fuel cells, and flywheels are evaluated against similar figures of merit.
The panel strongly supports the concept of the electric ship. The reduction in volume and signature and the design flexibility gained by the use of modular electric motors, including high-temperature superconducting motors in the future, and direct electric drive are powerful motivators. With the availability of all-electric power and propulsion systems, the possibility of electric-driven weapons and launch systems becomes attractive.
The U.S. Navy has developed a strategic plan for developing and implementing electric ships of the future. The focus is on a scalable and flexible architecture that can be applied across ship classes, making the implementation and acquisition affordable. The plan has insertion milestones predicated on commercial and Navy-developed availability of critical technologies. The panel endorses this plan and believes that the Department of the Navy should proceed as rapidly as possible toward implementation.
Two very distinct and different classes of environments important to naval operations in the future are described in Chapter 9.
The first class is the traditional physical environment in which naval forces operate, including long- and short-term weather forecasting and the modeling of ocean and littoral waters in order to accurately sense and locate submarines and mines.
The second and newer class deals with protection of the environments in which naval forces operate. Public awareness of the sea as a critical component of Earth's environment is growing. New restrictions on ocean dumping have already been placed on ships at sea and in harbors. Such restrictions will only increase in the future. The Department of the Navy should plan for and implement logistics system technologies that minimize the production of waste. Commercial technologies to not only limit sources of pollution but also to practice efficient and environmentally benign waste disposal in the future must be adopted. An issue of importance is the growing public concern about the possible harmful effects of active sonars and underwater explosives on marine life. To avoid serious curtailment of naval operations in the future, the Department of the Navy should develop the necessary data to understand the effects of current and proposed underwater acoustic sources on marine life.
In the area of weather forecasting, the panel believes that in the near term (3 to 5 years), high-resolution modeling using the improvements in shore-based high-performance computers has the potential of providing reliable 3- to 5-day forecasts of mesoconvective rainfall, cyclone tracks and intensity, ocean waves, and coastal mesoscale phenomena. In the mid term (5 to 10 years), improved models that include ocean/atmosphere interactions could provide high-resolution weather forecasts for battle groups and expeditionary forces. In the long term (10 to 20 years), ships will be provided with local high-performance computing capability, along with having massive, stored databases for autonomous high-resolution recognition of current weather as well as 30-day weather forecasts displayed multidimensionally and multisensorially.
The near-shore waters are driven by the sun, tides, winds, land runoff of fresh water and sediments, and offshore currents. The actual shape of the bottom and its capacity to reconfigure are critical sources of data. Because naval operations in littoral waters are of growing importance, the Department of the Navy will require large-scale models that can accurately simulate the physical state of a littoral zone under various scenarios of weather. The panel envisions that in 10 years models could be developed that are time-dependent and three-dimensional with outputs that would be presented in multidimensional graphical visualization systems to identify patterns of currents, temperature fronts, and so on. The modeling of acoustic phenomena in littoral waters to identify mines and submarines is challenging: The temperature and salinity of the water change with the
season; sea surface waves change quickly and frequently; the behavior of bottom reflectivity and absorption changes within waters. Real-time sensor measurements will be required along with sophisticated models to deal with these challenges.
The Department of the Navy is a very large business enterprise. Multiple large-scale processes such as platform and weapon acquisitions, logistic management, resource planning, personnel management, and training are manpower- and cost-intensive elements of operating this enterprise. Powerful information technologies, described in Chapter 10, are becoming available that can be applied to these enterprise processes to significantly reduce the cycle time on weapons and platforms development, to improve logistics system efficiencies, and to reduce manpower and cost. The panel believes that these technologies will have a major impact on the entire spectrum of Department of the Navy and DOD activities in the future.
Simulation-based acquisition (SBA) is a revolutionary process for the acquisition of complex platforms and systems. The information technologies in SBA integrate all acquisition activities, starting with requirements definition and continuing on through production, fielding and deployment, and operational support in order to optimize the design, manufacturing, business, and support processes. As envisioned, at the initiation of a proposed acquisition, government and industry teams will create virtual prototypes of candidate systems such as a new warship, a new airplane, and so on. These virtual prototypes will be fully linked to an integrated product database for that platform that includes its attributes, and they will be used during the acquisition, development, and operational lifetime of the product.
The SBA computer environment integrates models and simulations, engineering and physics, operations, and doctrine to evaluate overall product value and cost, guide the development process, and establish support operations of the product during its life cycle. SBA also features an interactive, immersive synthetic environment, integrated collaboration tools, legacy analysis and modeling tools that are ''wrappered" to achieve compatible interface standards, smart agents to aid information collection and integration, advanced information sharing and distribution, and advanced product and process optimization tools.
SBA will give decisionmakers the ability to examine design and operational issues by interacting with the virtual prototype. High-fidelity simulations will allow acquisition authorities to visualize and analyze the virtual prototype in distinct phases of the life cycle. They will be able to conduct studies that include mission value, affordability, performance tradeoffs, manning, maintenance, and so on. SBA will have a major impact on the Department of the Navy and DOD because it will reduce the time, resources, and risks in the acquisition process and
will simultaneously increase the quality of the systems being acquired. The ability to operate SBA in real time will be directly tied to progress in computing technologies. Analysis codes, such as CFD to determine drag or finite element to determine structural loading, may take hours to run today but will be reduced to minutes or seconds in the future.
Similar software and computer technologies are being developed and will be applied to the manufacturing, logistics, resource planning, dynamic mission planning, simulation of war, and other domains.
Other Technology Application Areas
There are four important areas in which many of the above technologies have application for the Department of the Navy. In Chapter 11 the panel emphasizes the importance of these four areas—space applications, signature management, chemical and biological warfare (CBW), and combat identification applications—to future dominance of the battlefield.
For military use, the four major applications of space are navigation of platforms and weapons, communications, environmental monitoring, and surveillance. It is clear to the panel that for the Navy and Marine Corps space offers innumerable advantages for rapid and secure global communications, monitoring of the air and sea environment, locating and targeting adversary naval and air forces, and carrying out potentially soft and hard kills of targets. Space will continue to provide the high ground for line-of-sight access to the ocean areas of the globe and is integral to the mission responsibility of the Department of the Navy. The panel recognizes that the Department of the Navy, while a major user of space, is not a developer of major space systems. However, the panel believes that to remain a "smart buyer and user" of national space assets, the Department of the Navy must maintain a knowledgeable cadre of professional personnel versed in the latest space technology, equipment, and systems. The Navy space cadre must participate actively with the other major organizations constituting the national programs through joint training and job rotation. This cadre must have opportunities for professional growth and recognition. They must also have access to the highest decision-making levels of the Department of the Navy so that space requirements, alternatives, and options can be considered and acted on in the best overall interests of the department.
Signature management is the application of many of the technologies described in this report to permit the purposeful reduction of the observability of a platform, a vehicle, a facility, personnel, and so on to accomplish one or more of the following objectives: (1) hide its existence from the enemy, (2) confuse the enemy's ability to locate it, (3) confuse the enemy's ability to identify it, or (4) reduce its vulnerability to attack. Over the past decade, the DOD has made remarkable use of signature management to enhance the probability of success on the battlefield. The F-117 stealth fighter clearly demonstrated the advantage of
surprise in Desert Storm in terms of inflicting initial devastating destruction upon the adversary while remaining virtually invulnerable. U.S. Navy submarines through their shape, material coatings, and operational practices have been the silent service for decades. The B-2 stealth bomber and the Sea Shadow stealth ship developments, while not yet deployed in warfare, are other examples.
In the past decade or so, use of particular materials to control the absorption and reflectance of radar and optical signals and the shaping of objects have been the principal methods of controlling and reducing the signature of platforms to make them stealthy. Electromagnetic analysis codes have evolved at a rate similar to that of computers to improve the fidelity with which the signature of an object can be determined. Progress should continue to parallel the computer technology trends described above, provided that the Navy invests in the development of software code. In many cases materials for these applications have been complex and expensive. To make signature management available in a wider variety of applications, investment also must be made in appropriate material technologies with the goal of significantly reducing their cost and enhancing their ease of application and maintainability.
With the advent of MEMS technology, the availability of systems-on-a-chip, and advances in smart materials, computing power, and intelligent software systems, the possibility exists in the future that the signatures of important assets such as aircraft, UAVs, and UUVs could be actively controlled. This capability could lead to signature warfare—the ability to present in real time a different signature to an adversary as the warfighting scenario evolves. Signature warfare could change the outcome of a battle by changing an adversary's perception and visualization of the battle space. Because of the importance of signature management to future warfare, the panel strongly encourages the Department of the Navy to invest in and exploit the technologies described in this report for applications to reduce and control the signature of important assets.
Chemical and biological warfare has become a credible threat, both strategically and tactically. As strategic weapons of mass destruction biological weapons are predicted to be effective over several hundred square kilometers and capable of causing hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths. Chemical weapons are more tactical in nature and are estimated to be effective over a few square kilometers in causing hundreds to thousands of deaths.
Self-protection from CBW agents involves detection and identification of the agents and evasion and/or provision of a safe haven until the threat has abated. Based on rapid advances in MEMS technology, sophisticated CBW detection devices are being developed by DARPA and others that show promise of being sensitive, small, rugged, and low in cost and hence could be deployed on UAVs to provide advanced warning. The panel encourages continued support of this exciting technology as a keystone means for staying ahead of the CBW aggressor.
The other aspect of the system for defense against CBW is the safe haven to protect military personnel from CBW agents. The Department of the Navy has been active in this area through the development of the CPS, which provides filters for CBW agents in protected areas of a ship. CPS can be designed into the air-conditioning system of new ships or backfitted into critical compartments on existing ships to provide protection. The panel supports the Navy technology development efforts in this area and encourages as rapid an implementation as possible.
In nearly every military operation, the ability to distinguish friendly assets from enemy assets is extremely important. The need to reduce "friendly fire" accidents is growing, particularly as the tempo of warfare increases. Accurate identification becomes especially important when U.S. assets in the form of fighter aircraft fall into the hands of future aggressors through earlier foreign military sales. In the past this capability for identification was referred to as identification, friend, or foe (IFF) but is now called combat identification (CID). The need for a dependable, multiservice, multipurpose CID that will be effective in air-to-air, air-to-ground, ground-to-air, and ground-to-ground engagements is clear. The panel encourages the Department of the Navy to pursue new technologies in the form of low probability of intercept (LPI) and other covert communications to develop this badly needed capability.
The driving technology areas identified in this report, while important in their own right, have the greatest synergy for the Department of the Navy when they are combined to provide new and more powerful capabilities. The panel believes that the three key benefits to be realized through combining several of the driving technology areas are as follows:
- Efficient and effective use of people,
- Superior weapons and platforms, and
- Dominant naval operations.
The first key benefit is illustrated in Figure 1.3. By combining computational power, information, communications, sensors, and the technologies that enhance human performance with more efficient enterprise processes, the Department of the Navy will realize much more efficient and effective use of people. The Navy and Marine Corps will be able to operate with fewer but better-informed and better-equipped sailors and marines. They will be more professional and have higher morale through a greater sense of job responsibility and satisfaction, which, in turn, will lead to higher retention rates. The increased use of automation aboard ships and the growing numbers of UUVs and UAVs will minimize human casualties in battle. The great advances expected in the
genomics area (the coming together of biotechnology, genetic engineering, and microelectronics technologies) will protect them against threats and cure them faster when needed.
By streamlining design and manufacture through the use of powerful new information technologies, such as simulation-based acquisition, and by involving the logisticians and other support areas from the inception, superior weapons and platforms will be developed in the future. This key benefit is illustrated in Figure 1.4. Interactive virtual platforms will be created in the computer before the physical units are ever built. Users and support personnel will interact with the design in real time, feedback will be rapid, and cycle time for producing new products will be greatly reduced. High-fidelity testing on the computer will greatly reduce the necessity of subsequent testing in wind tunnels, on ranges, and at sea. The platforms and weapons designed in this manner will be more robust and survivable through a greater use of passive and active signature management, smart materials, smart sensors, and improved navigation and guidance.
Through the application of these powerful technologies the Department of the Navy can realize dominance in future naval operations (Figure 1.5). Advanced sensors, long-duration UUVs and UAVs, high-performance on-board
computers, transparent communications, and automated intelligence analysis will provide Navy and Marine Corps personnel with high-resolution situational awareness. A great deal of information will be available on the enemy—location, strengths, weaknesses, and intentions. Many of the potential threats will be identified (as will friendly forces and assets) and targeted. Cooperative engagements against difficult targets will be routine. Smart standoff weapons with high-precision guidance will destroy enemy targets with great efficiency. Battle damage assessment will be prompt and accurate, further adding to the weapon efficiency.
Exciting New Technologies
The panel examined more than 100 technology areas important to future naval operations. Many of these areas will experience evolutionary growth over the time frame of interest. A few will experience revolutionary technical breakthroughs. Others will be subject to explosive commercial growth. This progress will enable naval capabilities and operations that are not possible today. The panel highlights below those technologies that are likely to have the biggest impact on changing the way the Department of the Navy conducts operations in the future. Because of their importance, these technologies deserve careful attention in the months and years ahead:
- 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.
Science and Technology Support
Investments in science and technology have served the Department of the Navy well over the past 50 years. Military technology requirements will continue to drive the state of the art in the future. The panel believes strongly that the Department of the Navy should 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.
One of the elements of the national technology infrastructure that undergirds all of the technologies and technology applications discussed in this report is the system of standards-setting bodies and institutions that conduct metrology research. These include the National Institute of Standards and Technology within the Department of Commerce, other national laboratories, and a host of voluntary standards-setting organizations and industry associations. Standards and advanced metrology techniques for testing, inspection, verification, and validation are required for all aspects of technology development. For example, the ability to share and accept test data among different players in the R&D process is critically dependent on the acceptance of common standards and metrology tools. Whenever necessary, the Department of the Navy must be prepared to participate in and support the nation's standards and metrology infrastructure as required for its own technology development programs.
Focused Research and Development
No modern, technology-intensive enterprise can prosper without sustained research and development support focused on the enterprise's main objectives. This truism has been recognized for the armed forces since World War II, but the nation may be losing sight of it today as budget concerns occupy the nation's attention. The environment in which future naval forces will exist and in which they will have to function effectively will be characterized by continuing budget stringency, barring the emergence of some future mortal threat to the United States and its allies. Regardless of the level of resources that will be allocated to support the creation of the entering wedges of capability that this full study on technology for future naval forces foresees as essential to future naval force viability, and however they are found, the R&D part of those resources will have to be invested as effectively as possible, and in a timely manner.
In addition to effective technical management, a key step in effective use of resources for R&D will be to focus the R&D effort on those elements that are unique to military and naval forces, and for the rest to capitalize to the greatest extent possible on R&D and technology emerging from the civilian, commercial sector. The technology areas examined during the course of this study were reviewed to see where relevant R&D is currently performed and is likely to continue. The review showed extensive scientific and technology development effort in the civilian sector that can be of value and use to the naval forces in the following technology areas or clusters:
- Information technology,
- Technologies for human performance,
- Computational technologies,
- Power and propulsion technologies,
- Environmental technologies, and
- Technologies for enterprise processes.
Although particular areas of science and related military and naval applications will always require Department of the Navy investment and attention, military R&D in the above areas can concentrate heavily on adapting the civilian and commercial technologies and their products to naval force use.
This orientation must be adopted with caution, however, because in many areas commercial industry is also deferring long-term R&D in favor of short term programs offering a quick payoff in highly competitive markets. The Department of the Navy must thus remain vigilant to ensure that its needs will indeed be met in these areas by the civilian world. In no sense, therefore, should comments on priority in this regard be taken as a suggestion that basic, long-term research be foregone by the Department of the Navy in all these areas without first ascertaining that research needed for naval force purposes will in fact be performed by the commercial sector. The Navy Department must also be ready to recognize and adapt wholly new advances that can change how military tasks are performed, equipment is brought into being, and kinds of equipment created. The naval forces must remain open to new and vital knowledge. The issue is to apply appropriate judgment to allocation of scarce research resources.
With due attention to these caveats, it appears now that science and technology for military and naval force use will have to be especially sustained by the military R&D community (where possible and beneficial, in cooperation with the civilian community) in the following areas because, in the absence of large civilian markets, no one else is likely to support it (the inclusions in parentheses give examples of the kinds of capabilities and devices that would be included in each):
- Sensor technologies (electronically steered and low-probability-of-intercept [LPI] radar, IR and advanced infrared search and track [IRST], multispectral imaging, embedded microsensors and "smart" skins and structures, lasers, SQUIDs);
- The sensor technologies would be joined in application with specialized information technologies (secure data access; stealth and counterstealth; ASW; chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons detection; automatic target recognition) to contribute to the military parts of the information-in-warfare system. (Fundamental research into the theoretical basis of naval warfare underlying modeling and simulation must obviously be supported by the naval forces, as well.)
- Military-oriented materials (energetic materials, including explosives and
- rocket propellants, high-temperature materials for engine turbine blades and combustors, and composites, among others);
- The materials together with power and propulsion technologies (rocket engines, warheads, and advanced aircraft, ship, and submarine power plants) would contribute to the creation of advanced weapon systems and, in the form of long-life and high-power-density power sources, to reducing equipment loads and logistic resupply requirements.
In many of these areas, the naval forces will have to join with the other military departments to share the applied R&D and advanced development loads so that the total resources are spent as efficiently as possible. R&D expenditures by the Navy Department in these areas, and in the adaptation of civilian technology to naval force purposes, must be focused in two areas: development of unique naval force capabilities needed to support ongoing force improvement and creation of future capability; and development, by work-sharing arrangements in the joint environment, of capabilities that all the Services will be able to use. Deciding the allocation of resources between these two areas of effort will obviously be the responsibility of the Department of the Navy working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the other military departments, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Some of the jointly agreed on R&D will help the naval forces, just as some of the Navy Department R&D will help meet needs of the other Services.
Finally, it must be emphasized that some major system advances take place in major steps after ongoing research and advanced development have created new opportunities. This has been especially apparent in the aviation area, where ongoing R&D in propulsion, aerodynamics, and structures leads periodically to a major advance in capability embodied in a new class of aircraft. For this to happen, the R&D must be supported in a sustained, long-term program in which each step is built on the last, such that at significant points a new system can be built on the advances achieved to that time. An example is the Integrated High Performance Turbine Engine Technology (IHPTET) program, jointly sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the Military Departments, and industry. This program, together with its predecessor Service programs, has led to major advances in turbine and compressor materials, advanced combustors and engine controls, and overall engine designs. These advances have led in turn to major improvements in thrust, thrust-weight ratio, and fuel economy, leading to the superior U.S. military aircraft engine performance we see today, and to significant advances in civilian aviation as well.
The areas of surface ship and submarine design and construction, antisubmarine warfare, and oceanography also need a similar model of integrated, sustained R&D support, with clearly defined goals and schedules, industry-government collaboration, and stable funding, to achieve the potential seen for them in this study.