Q&A on Distributed Maritime Operations

Dispersing and linking forces across all domains

A U.S. Navy fleet in formation at sea. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Raytheon Missiles & Defense is working with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense research organizations such as DARPA, the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory to identify gaps in all domains and build a more connected fleet. (U.S. Navy photo) 

The U.S. Navy has a vision for its future.

It’s a network of sensors, riding aboard everything from drones and jets to ships and missiles dispersed across the globe, all taking in data and feeding it back to the fleet to help operators meet a mission anywhere.

The Navy’s official name for the concept is Distributed Maritime Operations, and Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, is combining new engineering methods with decades of experience to help bring the initiative to life.

Here, Kim Ernzen, vice president of Naval Power at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, discusses why Distributed Maritime Operations is so important, and how the business can help the Navy realize its vision.

Kim Ernzen
Kim Ernzen

Why is Distributed Maritime Operations important?

It will allow the Navy to distribute assets, for instance, with a sensor forward that’s doing passive activity, while an effector is back farther protecting critical infrastructure in a receive mode. This warfighting concept increases capability to achieve the desired effect.

How are Raytheon Missiles & Defense and its partners helping make the concept a reality?

We’re working with industry partners to determine how we can connect the fleet and have our collective systems operate and collaborate in a much more efficient and effective manner. Together, we’re doing a lot of experimentation with the Office of Naval Research and other branches to identify gaps in the current infrastructure.

The Navy is opening up the aperture, allowing us and our industry partners to solve this problem in a unique and novel way. In fact, they’re looking at transitioning to a more open architecture for all their systems, which would help enable capability versus a traditional develop-design-build process.

How can digital engineering help the Navy close the gap faster?

Leveraging the digital thread allows us to better understand evolving threats and collaborate with the Navy on operational analysis to ensure there’s coverage across all domains. It’s not just a surface fight anymore; it’s subsea, seabed – all the way up to space.

It also helps speed product and capability to the warfighter. And speed obviously helps from an affordability perspective. The more we can run analysis and look at how modeling and simulation is proving out, we can reduce time spent on prototyping and flight testing. Both add not only time, but also dollars – dollars that can be spent buying more capability as opposed to developing it.

We’re also drawing on our agile DevSecOps experience to update the fleet faster and keep the Navy current.

How can Raytheon Missiles & Defense help accelerate this capability?

The Raytheon Missiles & Defense portfolio includes several of the Navy’s marquee systems like the SM-6 missile, Tomahawk cruise missile and SPY-6 radar, so we’re in a unique position to rapidly and efficiently close the gap. Restarting something new will not get the capability there faster.

Our engineers can easily collaborate on ways to improve how existing systems work together to deliver greater overall system performance. For example, an effector may operate better if a sensor could provide specific pieces of data. By connecting the kill web like this, we really enhance the capability faster and in a more novel way.

We’re also continuing to look at how we can optimize our systems – not only for the intent of what a product is designed for, but also integrating it with other systems that may be either on ships, submarines or other platforms.

How does the SPY-6 radar support the idea of Distributed Maritime Operations?

The Navy and U.S. have invested significantly in SPY-6 and designed it with the intent to have the capability to rapidly scale to what is needed to meet evolving threats. We’re working with Navy stakeholders to ensure the right design and development is paired up and scaled onto U.S. fleets.

It’s an extremely versatile and scalable aperture and it’s on the verge of changing how and where the Navy fights in a distributed manned and unmanned fleet.

Looking ahead, what will a distributed fleet look like, and which Raytheon Missiles & Defense systems will play a key role?

Big picture – we will see manned and unmanned systems teaming and spanning all domains, in ways that will be revolutionary. Raytheon Missiles & Defense systems will be at the heart of capabilities for the distributed, networked force.

As standoff ranges expand because of adversaries’ abilities, the Tomahawk cruise missile will continue to be the effector of choice for long-range strike. Maritime Strike Tomahawk is in development and will bring unparalleled capability to the fleet to not only go after land attacks, but also maritime attacks.

You can also expect a lot of focus on the SM-6 missile and the growing importance of its multi-mission capabilities. In fact, Admiral Tom Druggan at the Missile Defense Agency recently referred to the weapon as “our leading defensive capability for hypersonic missile defense.”

Published On: 01/12/2022