First Steps to Making Design 2.0 Reality in Afloat Networks

January 23, 2019 – The organization responsible for acquiring, deploying and sustaining the U.S. Navy’s afloat network technologies conducted a review to guarantee alignment with the Chief of Naval Operations’ (CNO’s) recently released A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority Version 2.0. Completed in late January 2019, the examination revealed positive past results, meaningful plans for the future and a solidification of efforts to build a better, networked, agile and ready fleet.

Items specifically relevant to the Tactical Networks Program Office (PMW 160) in the Design include moving Navy labs to cloud environments, increasing collaboration with industry and academia, and leveraging cloud for Agile development. PMW 160’s Consolidated Afloat Network and Enterprise Services (CANES), a major system, and its accompanying subsystem Agile Core Services (ACS), provide enabling technologies for these tasks. They pull in the commercial information technology (IT) sector for development and deployment of mission applications, including Platform as a Service (PaaS), a data analytics framework and application transport to afloat platforms.

This work supports Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence’s (PEO C4I’s) Information Warfare Platform Digital Execution Plan (IWDEP) 2.0, which includes accelerated delivery to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and subsequent force level ships starting in 2020. PMW 160 is one of 10 program offices within PEO C4I. The new Information Warfare Platform deploys new versions of ACS as well as systems that integrate with ACS, including systems from other program offices at the PEO.

Another collaborative effort, this time with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific), deploys CANES in the SSC Pacific Naval Research and Development Establishment (NRD&E) commercial cloud. In that cloud, SPAWAR created the Collaborative Staging Environment (CSE), a part of the overall PEO C4I cloud strategy for hosting shore-based development, testing, application integration, training and operational environments. The CSE serves as a virtual lab for application integration and runs in a commercial cloud.

The CSE includes all basic CANES services, including the full suite of ACS capabilities. Although the CSE does not fully virtualize all of the CANES hardware, it does include the relevant security configurations, software and core services in support of application-level Secure DevOps.

What this means for the Navy is faster deployment of affordable systems that keep afloat Sailors connected to all the resources they need to complete their missions. It also gives many technical experts who have to work on a system the ability to corroborate earlier, making resolving problems easier.

Emily Nguyen, PMW 160 assistant program manager for ACS and DevOps, said “Using the CSE, applications are now able to access CANES services early in their development cycle, and can do integration testing without the limitation of scheduling hardware availability. To date, seven early adopter applications have entered the environment. Overall, we have had great success, as well as identified some challenges and lessons learned to improve how we make the CSE available to all stakeholders in FY19.”

Additionally, the recent release of NAVADMIN 315-18 Transforming Our End-To-End Information Environment–“Compile To Combat in 24 Hours” Implementation Framework promulgates CANES/ACS as the baseline development target for all afloat applications. ACS has released an extensive ACS Developer’s Guide, which is available for download to the development community. To help all developers keep the project on track, semi-annual recurring sessions of ACS Developer’s Working Group workshops are scheduled. PMW 160 led two of these workshops in 2018, which included a live demonstration of artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) using the ACS data analytics infrastructure and included industry, academia and government partners

Capt. Kurt Rothenhaus, program manager, PMW 160, explained, “Data analytics, such as AI/ML and decision support tools, is arguably the most important area where the Navy can develop tactical advantages over our increasingly sophisticated adversaries.”

Industry is a huge part of the success in PMW 160’s plans to deliver on the CNO’s LOEs. In September last year, the program office co-sponsored and also participated in HACKtheMACHINE to allow hands-on experience in developing applications using the ACS platform in a humanitarian scenario. This public event engaged industry, academia, and government in demonstrating the ability for new developers to learn about the ACS baseline by building new and innovative applications leveraging ACS services. Within two days, many of the software development teams successfully used various ACS services such as geospatial, PaaS, publish/subscribe messaging, data mediation, data storage, data analytics, and application and web services, demonstrating that the development community could easily understand the services provided by ACS.

In October 2018, PMW 160 held an Industry Day to communicate its strategic objectives and specific technology gaps to industry partners. In conjunction with Industry Day, the program office published several requests for information (RFIs) to solicit industry white papers on improving automation, configuration management, cloud edge computing, software defined networking and approaches to improving sustainable warfighting capability. Future contract efforts are expected on some of the responses that lead to fulfillment of Design 2.0 tasks.

Regarding near-term impacts, PMW 160 has accelerated the second operational afloat baseline release of ACS, which will be fielded on the Abraham Lincoln, USS Bataan (LHD-5) and subsequent force level platforms. This advanced rollout will provide early ML/AI capabilities to the tactical edge and enhance the warfighting capability with on-ship data analytics infrastructure. In addition, ACS 3.2, through its Application Arsenal, enables application stakeholders to field capability on the afloat environment faster, with a robust feedback cycle to learn quicker from fleet feedback. The results will help enable an afloat force that is combat ready at any time.

More information about CANES and other PMW 160 efforts will be available during WEST 2019, February 13-15, in San Diego, at the Navy’s Information Warfare Pavilion.