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Over at USNI Proceedings Magazine, CAPT Tony Butera and CAPT Dale Rielage have dropped an idea of what the Navy could do with one or more of the Oliver Hazard Perry FFGs CNO has mentioned he is thinking about bringing out of mothballs in order to more rapidly meet ship numbers.

To get right to the point:

DIUx—leveraging its commercial solutions openings process—would hold a disruptive design contest, offering unconventional partners the chance to conduct modernization experiments on board the frigates. In much the same way that Space-X’s faster development and launch processes forced reforms of entrenched procedures at NASA in 2010, the design contest could transform fleet modernization practices.

Article may be found HERE.


One of our biggest challenges in modernizing our Navy is we must be both an operational force, which means maintaining our current systems in a fully operational status. However, we also must maintain the technical advantage over potential adversaries, which often requires disrupting our current Programs of Record.

DIUx, through the Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process, has the ability to contract legally outside of the Federal Acquisitions Requirements (FAR) through Other Transactions (OT). As a result, they are able to create an extremely flexible contract path that can access commercial technology as it emerges from the centers of innovation throughout the US.

Given a blank slate, DIUx could potentially deliver next generation technologies to a legacy hull and power plant at significant cost and time savings.

Of course, that would also require modifications and exceptions to policy to enable the rapid deployment and acceptance of this technology – which is why the initial fielding of this in an experimental manner is so important.

For the Navy to move forward, it would need to identify an FFG to be modernized, and set aside manpower, money, and time for an equivalent modernization effort through the normal process. It would be a mistake to under resource the effort – even though we may see improvements in cost to get to equivalent capability of the more typical modernization effort, this experiment would want to go much further, pushing the limits of Autonomy, Unmanned Systems, Distributed Processing, and Human Factors.

The goal would be to deliver a faster, more innovative, less expensive process, from design to deployment. Command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence C4I) and engineering control systems—and the business practices that support the development, deployment, and upgrading of those systems—would be the focus, but the entire ship would be fair game. Control systems for engineering, navigation, and weapon systems could capitalize on a central neural network, using nanotechnology, radio frequency identification, and artificial intelligence.

In addition, where our current shipboard information systems and hull, mechanical, and electrical systems are designed by multiple different vendors, each responsible for their own Cyber Security, which is then attempted to integrate on the back end, this effort could contribute to a ground up Cyber Security Enterprise throughout the ship, greatly enhancing security and visibility of the engineering level status of the computing systems about our ships.

Cyber defense of these systems could be “baked in” starting in the design phase.

This project can not be completed by civilian industry alone, nor should it be. This is an opportunity to release the creative power of our Systems Commands… unleash them from requirements and focus on the fundamental problem – “How might we best defend the people of the United States from foreign threats using a warship?”

We can do better. It is time to move out of our comfort zone and give the Navy and the nation’s best innovators a chance to show what they can offer the fleet.

I highly encourage you to read the full article: