2
Strategic and Technology Planning and Disruptive Capabilities for Naval Aviation

RATIONALE

The committee received a number of briefings and reviewed several documents to gain insight into naval aviation’s role in enabling the operational concepts envisioned for the future in Naval Power 21 and to assess the current situation at ONR with respect to the planning, funding, and development of technology to support this thrust. Based on the material it reviewed, the committee was unanimous in its conviction that naval aviation plays a crucial role in the transformation to Naval Power 21. ONR’s role in developing the necessary naval aviation technology for the future is thus extremely important to the success of Naval Power 21.

The committee received much information indicating that ONR has many S&T programs under way that are aimed at important aviation issues. Few of those programs were specific to naval aviation, although the aggregated funding that is relevant to aviation is a considerable fraction of the budget. Unfortunately, however, the committee found little that could be construed as a strategic plan to guide allocation of that funding to strengthen naval aviation. Investments appeared ad hoc, with unclear goals against which to assess progress or ultimate value. This perception of disarray was exacerbated by the very large fraction of programs funded by congressional largess (discussed in Chapter 4) that have no connection to Navy objectives and important operational concepts. Futhermore, the committee found that funding for basic research on the longest-range visions (6.1 funding) for naval aviation was insignificant, suggesting that ONR’s current portfolio is not very forward-looking. As a result, the committee was unable to



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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities 2 Strategic and Technology Planning and Disruptive Capabilities for Naval Aviation RATIONALE The committee received a number of briefings and reviewed several documents to gain insight into naval aviation’s role in enabling the operational concepts envisioned for the future in Naval Power 21 and to assess the current situation at ONR with respect to the planning, funding, and development of technology to support this thrust. Based on the material it reviewed, the committee was unanimous in its conviction that naval aviation plays a crucial role in the transformation to Naval Power 21. ONR’s role in developing the necessary naval aviation technology for the future is thus extremely important to the success of Naval Power 21. The committee received much information indicating that ONR has many S&T programs under way that are aimed at important aviation issues. Few of those programs were specific to naval aviation, although the aggregated funding that is relevant to aviation is a considerable fraction of the budget. Unfortunately, however, the committee found little that could be construed as a strategic plan to guide allocation of that funding to strengthen naval aviation. Investments appeared ad hoc, with unclear goals against which to assess progress or ultimate value. This perception of disarray was exacerbated by the very large fraction of programs funded by congressional largess (discussed in Chapter 4) that have no connection to Navy objectives and important operational concepts. Futhermore, the committee found that funding for basic research on the longest-range visions (6.1 funding) for naval aviation was insignificant, suggesting that ONR’s current portfolio is not very forward-looking. As a result, the committee was unable to

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities assess the relative relevance of ONR’s current aviation programs or their completeness in furnishing the capabilities needed for realizing Naval Power 21. This deficit was immediately acknowledged by both ONR and NAVAIR. Both agreed that an S&T plan, jointly crafted, is essential.1 The committee did review worthy strategic plans of both the Army and the Air Force in this sector and found much (discussed further in Chapter 4) that could help ONR and NAVAIR in the essential task of developing a jointly crafted S&T plan. Construction of a naval aviation strategic S&T plan will require obtaining input from the widest spectrum of users, producers, and technologists. For the leadership of ONR, the real value of the process is as much the intuition that is built in by the participants as the specifics of what is recommended. What is offered in this report is only illustrative of both the process and the possible outcome. NAVAL POWER 21 Sea Power 212 and Marine Corps Strategy 21,3 jointly referred to as Naval Power 21,4 offer a farsighted, aggressive, challenging vision of future naval warfare, well beyond the reach of current U.S. naval capabilities. Needed future capabilities to achieve that vision are detailed in the discussions of the fundamental components of Sea Power 21 that follow. Sea Power 21 identifies three fundamental concepts that will provide the foundation for the Navy’s future effectiveness: Sea Strike, Sea Shield, and Sea Basing. Respectively, they enhance the U.S. ability to project offensive power, to provide defensive assurance, and to enhance operational independence around the globe. Sea Strike is a broadened concept for naval power projection that leverages enhanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), precision delivery of weapons, stealth of 1   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). 2   ADM Vern Clark, USN. 2002. “Sea Power 21: Projecting Decisive Joint Capabilities,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 128, No. 10, pp. 32-41. 3   Gen James L. Jones, USMC, Comandant of the Marine Corps. 2000. Marine Corps Strategy 21, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., November. 4   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 Defense, Washington, D.C., October.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities operation, and much extended persistence for increasing operational tempo, reach, and effectiveness. Explicitly included in the definition of Sea Strike are a number of potentially disruptive capabilities: for example, persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance supported by autonomous (i.e., unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) long-dwell sensors, covert strike, knowledge enhancement systems, unmanned combat air vehicles, hypersonic missiles, electromagnetic rail guns, and Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM),5 the centerpiece of the Marine Corps’s capstone Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare concept, another disruptive capability with severe logistics, communications, and firepower support challenges. Sea Shield, similarly, is a concept for broadened defense—taking the naval forces beyond the traditional defense of the unit and task force to provide the nation with sea-based theater and strategic defense. Incorporated in the Sea Shield concept are a number of potentially disruptive capabilities, including directed-energy weapons, UAVs, the single integrated air picture, and distributed weapons coordination. Sea Basing, in turn, projects the sovereignty of the United States globally, providing Joint Force commanders with vital command and control, fire support, and logistics from the sea while minimizing reliance on vulnerable support assets and infrastructure ashore. While Sea Strike and Sea Shield are broadened versions of traditional naval functions, Sea Basing introduces a whole new concept of operating that in itself is clearly disruptive. Included in the description of the Sea Basing concept is explicit reference to individual disruptive capabilities, such as heavy equipment (at-sea) transfer, improved vertical delivery methods, and rotational crewing infrastructure. There is an important fourth component of Sea Power 21—FORCEnet6— which ties the three primary components together. FORCEnet represents the information architectural framework and operational concept that interconnect all of the critical elements of the naval warfare enterprise into a seamless networked distributed combat force. Sea Power 21 defines FORCEnet explicitly as “the Navy’s plan to make (network-centric warfare) an operational reality,” including such concepts as “sensor and weapon grids,” “distributed, collaborative C2 [command and control],” “dynamic survivable networks,” and “adaptive/automated decision aids.” The visionary concepts expressed in Sea Power 21 must be embodied in a strategic plan for naval aviation that could ultimately lead to a detailed imple- 5   STOM envisions the Marines moving directly from a ship base to an objective, perhaps hundreds of miles inland, without setting up any secondary supporting deployments (e.g., beach depots, communication relays). Obviously, sea-based logistics is a necessity. 6   ADM Vern Clark, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, and Gen Michael W. Hagee, USMC, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 2005. “FORCEnet: A Functional Concept for the 21st Century,” Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., February.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities mentation plan. Such a strategic plan and a comprehensive implementation plan did not exist at the outset of this study.7 For example, there are multiple references in Sea Power 21 to the use of UAVs, but the slow pace at which the Navy is adopting this capability into the fleet belies the vision. The Navy is in the process of designing and implementing elements of the infrastructure that will provide the underpinnings of Sea Power 21 and may exploit disruptive technologies, but it has done little to identify related concepts of operation. As a result, there is currently no strategy for how naval aviation will fight in the network-centric world. There have been no war games exploiting network-centric naval aviation operations. The Navy must explore, including joint developments with the other Services, the various options for operation in a network-centric world that deal with the uncertainties of world politics and the disruptive capabilities created by adversaries. The Navy should trade between options for dealing with a wide range of contingencies and should develop a clear strategy for how it intends to operate in the future. Only then can an implementation plan and a detailed design for a successful system be undertaken by which naval air power can determine how it will fight in the future and, in particular, how it will exploit disruptive capabilities and technologies to win against any adversary that will develop its own disruptive capabilities. The Strategic Studies Group XXIII, which reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations and is tasked with generating revolutionary concepts for future naval war fighting, came to a similar conclusion in its December 2004 report entitled Beyond Maritime Supremacy—Transforming Maritime Forces for the Global Fight Against Terrorism, recommending changes in policy, processes, organizational structure, resource allocation, and doctrine to implement the necessary actions.8 SOME DISRUPTIVE CAPABILITIES Based on its understanding of the challenges implicit or explicit in Naval Power 21, the committee selected a subset of seven disruptive capabilities that seem particularly important for future naval aviation: Multispectral defense, Unmanned air operations, Hypersonic weapons delivery, Fast-kill weapons, Heavy-lift air transport, 7   See footnote 1 in this chapter. 8   ADM James R. Hogg, USN (Ret.), Director, CNO Strategic Studies Group, personal communication, August 10, 2005.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities TABLE 2.1 Mapping of Seven Disruptive Capabilities to the Four Fundamental Concepts in Naval Power 21 Disruptive Capabilities Sea Strike Sea Shield Sea Basing FORCEnet Multispectral defense X x     Unmanned air operations X X X   Hypersonic weapons delivery X x     Fast-kill weapons X X     Heavy-lift air transport x   X   Intelligent combat information management x x   X Omniscient intelligence x x   X NOTE: A capital “X” indicates a direct reference to the capability in Naval Power 21; a lower-case “x” indicates a particularly relevant role as judged by the committee for the capability, although it may not have been explicitly identified as such in Naval Power 21. Intelligent combat information management, and Omniscient intelligence. This list is not exhaustive but does illustrate the areas in which a comprehensive and coherent S&T program should be investing. Each area is discussed briefly below with an indication of the benefits to Sea Power 21, the S&T challenges, and the reasons that each is considered disruptive. Each can be traced directly to at least one of the four components of Naval Power 21—Sea Strike, Sea Shield, Sea Basing, and FORCEnet. Table 2.1 summarizes these relationships. FORCEnet, in particular, infuses everything. Multispectral Defense Covert strike is fundamental to the concept of Sea Strike. Naval aircraft will be expected to operate in environments that contain many different types of threats ranging from vintage radar-directed antiaircraft artillery and infrared heat-seeking missiles to the most sophisticated multimodal, hypersonic antiaircraft missiles. Simultaneous defense against all of these threats at a size and in a space that do not infringe on envelopes of operation is very challenging. Technologies and techniques that enable electronic warfare and stealth have for many years strengthened the Navy’s capability for providing multispectral defense. The use of stealth in the Gulf War made U.S. air power virtually immune to air defenses. As a result the United States destroyed most of the Iraqi communications, command and control, aircraft on the ground, and tanks, and even conducted daytime bombing. This change in operations was truly profound. Regrettably, however, the growing capability and diversity of the threat faced by the United States require renewed emphasis beyond the traditional

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities incremental approaches. Enemy air defenses are improving in their ability to counter the U.S. advantage of stealth. The need to fly low to support U.S. troops on the ground is making infrared and visual signatures very important. New technologies are needed to reduce these signatures. Active and precise hard-kill countermeasures (e.g., kilowatt-class lasers) are now required to handle attackers in multiple regions of the spectrum. In both the optical and the microwave, for example, technologies are needed that will provide signatures similar to or capable of blending with the background. These technologies will involve new materials, tactics, and electronics common to all air platforms (winged aircraft, helicopters, short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) vehicles, and UAVs). The most disruptive of these technologies would be a visual stealth system that is agile, responds quickly, and is small enough and inexpensive enough to effectively protect low-altitude air vehicles (UAVs, helicopters, STOVL aircraft, and even fixed-wing aircraft). Unmanned Air Operations Unmanned air operations are, and will continue to become, increasingly important to naval aviation; they are explicitly identified by Sea Power 21 as a capability required for both Sea Strike and Sea Shield. It is envisioned that long-duration (days and weeks) loitering vehicles will perform missions such as surveillance with all manner of sensors; electronic attack; and communication relays with controllable and selectable/adaptive communications bandwidth. When time is of the essence, hypersonic (Mach 3 to 10) UAVs will get weapons and sensors to targets before the enemy can move very far. UAVs currently provide reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, and surveillance with flight vehicles of various sizes serving in a variety of roles. Small, back-packable, hand-launched UAVs can provide a unit on maneuvers with images of its immediate surroundings; intermediate-sized UAVs suitable for transport in a single vehicle for forward basing typically carry electrooptical sensors to provide reconnaissance in some depth, or suitable for ship basing to provide area surveillance; and large, high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs with extensive sensor payloads provide broad surveillance across an area of operations. In the future, UAVs will take on a larger range of roles, including combat and support missions currently performed by manned aircraft. The development begun with a previous centerpiece program (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle-Navy) and the Joint Unmanned Combat Aerial System may result in high-performance, possibly hypersonic, armed UAVs that can perform tactical missions. Among the many motivations for the aggressive introduction of UAVs into naval aviation are a reduction in the number of people placed in harm’s way; the potentially superior performance of systems that do not have to accommodate a human occupant or can operate in environments not suitable for humans; an expansion of the size range of militarily useful systems not limited by the scale of

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities a human occupant and facilitated by the development of miniaturized sensors and systems; and the potential for reduced life-cycle costs through reduced staffing. It is vital that the Navy embrace the rapidly developing UAV technologies and prepare for their wider introduction into the fleet. In 2000, the National Research Council’s Committee on Uninhabited Air Vehicles identified opportunities for research on crosscutting UAV subsystem technologies.9 To realize the vision of Naval Power 21, UAVs must be affordable; must have sufficient range, endurance, and payload to meet the missions of Sea Strike and Sea Shield; and must have highly integrated airframes, propulsion systems, sensors, communication, self-protection, and weapons. They must be completely integrated into the networked war-fighting system (FORCEnet) as an integral part of the envisioned network-centric sensor grids or possibly as a portion of a distributed sensor system composed of a number of cooperating UAV platforms. It is essential that the Navy foster the development of UAVs that are suitable for its unique operational environments and missions through a well-planned process of S&T development that will support the required capabilities in a timely manner to maintain technological and operational superiority in the future. Although much work has been done to develop the potential of UAVs, there are aspects of their application in naval operations that are unique and should be the subject of focused Navy research and development. For example, naval UAVs will operate in a maritime environment with its unique humidity, exposure to saltwater, and extremes of temperature; they will operate from ships in all weather conditions with inherent platform motion; and they will have to take off, land, and maneuver in close proximity to other aircraft, both remotely operated and occupied. In addition, there are substantial planning and operational challenges associated with operations from ships, which frequently provide limited alternate landing sites and have severe limitations on landing opportunities. For Marines the operation of backpack-size, small UAVs in conjunction with tactical units ashore and in severe environments, with minimal logistics and less than delicate handling, offers additional challenges. Nevertheless, second only to the impact of network-centric operations, the widespread application of UAV technologies will enormously alter the way the Navy goes about its everyday business. Hypersonic Weapons Delivery10 The Sea Strike component of Sea Power 21 includes the timely delivery of ordnance to satisfy the military objectives of projecting power, supporting ground operations, and attacking time-critical targets. To minimize the time from identi- 9   National Research Council. 2000. Uninhabited Air Vehicles: Enabling Science for Military Systems, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 10   For a longer discussion of this topic, see National Research Council, 2004, Evaluation of the National Aerospace Initiative, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities fication and fixing of a target until strike, delivery systems may be forward based, loitering in the target area, or capable of high speed to minimize time to target. Indepth studies are needed to evaluate the systems-level cost and performance trade-offs among the options. However, one technology area that is likely to have high value is hypersonic (e.g., Mach 3 to 10) flight.11 Currently, the U.S. ability to attack mobile targets is still compromised because of the lack of persistent surveillance and the inability to instantly execute a kill. Often opposing mobile missile launchers move to take cover in civilian areas that U.S. forces cannot attack by the time they have a weapon ready for delivery. More continuous surveillance (e.g., via multiple UAVs) coupled with hypersonic kill vehicles could yield a near-instantaneous response, giving an enemy little opportunity to hide. Such a capability would profoundly change the nature of warfare as we know it and would be truly disruptive. Air-breathing hypersonic vehicles obtain thrust through a portion of their flight trajectory by burning a fuel with oxygen obtained from the atmosphere, thus gaining a weight advantage by avoiding having to carry an oxidizer and the systems to contain and control it. Air breathing implies operation in the atmosphere during a vehicle’s propulsive flight phase, which presents combustion system and thermal management challenges. Self-contained propulsion systems carry both fuel and oxidizer, resulting in a weight penalty, but have the advantage that their operation is based on well-established rocket technology. A self-contained propulsion system can operate both in the atmosphere and outside it. Both types of propulsion system could be used to provide continuous thrust during a significant portion of a vehicle’s flight trajectory or to boost the vehicle to high speed, with the kinetic energy used during the remainder of the trajectory for range extension (assuming that the hypersonic vehicles of interest have their own navigation, guidance, and control systems rather than follow a ballistic trajectory). With either type of propulsion system, hypersonic vehicles would have in common a capacity for high speed (potentially resulting in a valuable reduction in time to target). They would also pose technical challenges such as thermal management, durability of materials, control systems, sensing and communications through a sheath of ionized air, and propulsion system design and control (particularly for air-breathing systems)—all of which suggest areas for research and development to enable potential application by the Navy. Fast-Kill Weapons For both offensive (Sea Strike) and defensive (Sea Shield) missions, the ability of naval forces to deliver ordnance well within the maneuver or reaction 11   Hypersonic missiles are explicitly called out as a Future Sea Strike technology in the Sea Power 21 vision.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities time of the enemy is ultimately bound by basic kinematics (i.e., transit time and range). Since the velocities of conventional ballistic and rocket technologies are limited to small multiples of the speed of sound (i.e., < Mach 3) and the desired ranges of effectiveness continue to increase for deployment of weapons from safe zones, the situation is currently getting worse, not better, with time. The development of weapons with much greater velocity has the potential to reverse this trend. Obviously, speed-of-light weapons employing lasers or microwaves suggest the potential for dramatic solutions. Low- and high-power lasers could revolutionize many aspects of offensive and defensive air-to-air and air-to-surface aerial warfare by providing precise, nearly instantaneous damage to targets. In addition, high-power microwave (HPM) weapons could disrupt all manner of electronics with little or no collateral damage. Additionally, HPM weaponry offers air-delivered, nonlethal control of humans on the ground as an adjunct to the traditional gunship weapons of today. Unfortunately, these technologies are also the most speculative, particularly within the size and weight constraints of aviation. Very high velocity ballistic systems, such as electromagnetic rail guns, coil guns, and gas guns, are other examples of potentially applicable, less-than-the-speed-of-light technologies with advantages and technological risks different from those of hypersonic weapons, but with significant disruptive capability. Heavy-Lift Air Transport12 The Marine Corps component of Sea Strike, STOM, depends critically on an ability to move both personnel and equipment on and off a sea-based platform to shore positions many hundreds of nautical miles inland with the same speed and volume as can be achieved using land transportation. Clearly this capability assumes a form of sea-based logistics far beyond the capacity of today’s naval forces. Sea Basing also envisions many situations requiring ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore movement of heavy equipment. Air lift, with STOVL and hovering capabilities, offers a potential solution. In addition, to support STOM the Marines require logistics support capable of high-speed horizontal flight, commensurate with the speed of the V-22 tilt rotor, which transports troops. At least three general approaches are being considered to achieve these capabilities. While all are radical, the most conventional approach involves upgrading to the CH-53E, a large rotorcraft capable of transporting 16 tons of payload. Generically called the Heavy-Lift Replacement, it could see initial operational capability by 2015. A second approach, called the Air Maneuver 12   For a longer discussion of this topic, see National Research Council, 2005, Sea Basing: Ensuring Joint Force Access from the Sea, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities Transport, builds on the existing V-22 tilt-rotor technology by increasing the number of rotors; it would be capable of lifting as much as 20 tons but would require more development and would not be available until 2025. Finally, consideration is being given to an advanced class of very large, buoyant, lifting-body dirigibles. A version of this design is currently being evaluated by NAVAIR. In the future, air-delivered logistics materiel may well be dropped at the precise point on the surface where it is needed, without any vehicle landing. Such an operation could be unmanned and autonomous, and hence carried out by vertical-lift UAVs. With such a capability, all facilities, infrastructure, vehicles, and so forth that land, off load, break down, reload, transship, unload, break down further, and distribute would no longer be needed. For example, food would be air delivered directly to the mess halls, ammunition to the weapons operator, and medicine to the field hospitals and aid stations. Theoretical studies have been done of extreme heavy-lift vehicles. Able to lift 500 tons and travel at 100 knots, such a vehicle could move 1 million ton-miles per day into remote and unimproved areas. An entire regiment could be embarked on a small number of such vehicles with all of its equipment (including artillery, support, armor, and aviation), moving from its home base (no port or airfield required) to a remote site without forward logistics. It could land on unimproved forward areas, beach areas, or water. Intelligent Combat Information Management Naval aircraft need to be able to manage and display combat information in real time—that is, to prioritize and systemize the volumes of information generated both on board the aircraft and by other participants all drawing from and contributing to a single agile network. This capability would provide the pilot with instant access to all aircraft navigation, communications, sensor, display, self-defense, and weapons systems as well as automate many of the functions and lower-level decisions that the pilot makes today to enhance situational awareness and avoid information overload. Ultimately, a combat information management system of the future could be envisioned, for the most part, to be “autonomic,” that is, to run in the background, with little or no overt crew intervention needed. Autonomic information systems would organize and control the sensors, get the data, and build the picture automatically, anticipating the needs of the crew. They would pull the relevant military objects from the picture and convert them into prioritized and synchronized target queues. They would pair the sensors and weapons to the targets and construct the execution order. They would assess the results and update the picture. To achieve these autonomic systems would require bandwidth, algorithms, and processing power. Many of the supporting technologies for autonomic information systems exist in the laboratory today. Implementation of autonomic systems would get naval aviation closer to the goal of having pilots be advised in advance

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities and human control exercised by exception or consent. This capability would minimize the chance that a target or necessary support function would ever become “critical” or “sensitive.” Omniscient Intelligence The most vexing problem today is identifying the next target (what it is and where), which, if successfully attacked, would produce the largest desired effect. At some point in the future, it is expected that the persistent availability of sensors would make possible knowing with confidence what the next targets should be and where they are. Without question, achieving this level of “omni-science” would completely change the way naval forces operate. The ability to sense virtually everything of interest in an environment, reduce the resulting raw data to critical information, and communicate that information to an autonomous system or human/machine system that would ultimately take action would provide a tremendous increase in capability. Examples include vastly improved reliability of systems as a result of condition monitoring and maintenance as needed (Sea Basing); awareness of all significant objects, friend and foe, in an area of interest (Sea Shield and Sea Strike); and grid processing for mission planning/conduct (FORCEnet)—all based on persistent/ad hoc networks that are self-forming, self-aware, and self-healing. Tremendous strides have been made in recent years in computing, sensors, communications systems, and software to enable these capabilities. Further developments in these areas would lead to revolutionary improvements supporting all the pillars of Sea Power 21. FINDINGS 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. Sea Power 21 and Naval Power 21 are revolutionary concepts envisioning how the Navy and the Marine Corps will fight future wars using a network-centric operational construct and architectural framework called FORCEnet.13 FORCEnet is still in the early stages of development, and a complete operational and architectural design does not yet exist. Since a strategic plan that identifies concepts of operation and capabilities that leverage FORCEnet to gain superiority over potential adversaries had not been articulated by the Navy at the time of this 13   For a longer discussion on this topic, see National Research Council, 2005, FORCEnet Implementation Strategy, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.

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Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities study, the committee used only the concepts embraced in Naval Power 21 to guide its determination of needed capabilities and gaps for naval aviation in the future relating to FORCEnet. 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.14 The committee believes this is a step in the right direction in forming the basis for such a strategic plan. NAVAIR’s current strategy of exploiting near-term gains is manifested at ONR by an almost vanishing level of funding for basic research (level 6.1) allocated to naval aviation topics. The relationship between NAVAIR and ONR does not appear to be strategic, and the two organizations do not seem to form a collaborative team, despite the expenditure of substantial S&T funds (levels 6.2 and 6.3) on naval aviation topics at ONR. 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. The perception of disarray in ONR aviation-related S&T was exacerbated by the large fraction of naval aviation programs that are funded by congressional largess and have little connection to Navy objectives. 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. RECOMMENDATIONS 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. 14   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 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. 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. 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. The naval aviation strategic S&T plan developed by ONR and NAVAIR should identify capability needs and current capability gaps that technology development will address. Technological progress and investment levels should be tracked each year for every major and minor technology category. 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.