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Organizers said underpinning the entire test event was a Department of the Navy (DON) imperative to develop a future fleet that better connects critical command and control (C2) functions to various weapons, integrated sensors and small unmanned systems.
“Our collaboration with NSWC Crane illustrates the outstanding value that warfare centers bring to the greater naval enterprise,” said Peter C. Reddy, NIWC Atlantic executive director. “Alongside the amazing support of Sullivan’s Island and its small community, it was remarkable to see the teamwork, passion and dedication on display all week as each participant worked to advance vital capabilities for our warfighters.”
In addition to aligning with naval strategic doctrine like distributed maritime operations (DMO) and expeditionary advanced base operations (EABO), the communications experiment aligned with a vital Department of Defense initiative called Joint All-Domain C2, or JADC2.
Greg Hays, NIWC Atlantic’s senior scientific technology manager for rapid prototyping, experimentation and fleet exercises, said the operational technologies and architecture for the DON’s future fleet are best written in real-world environments that are experimental in nature.
“We know that developing the best capabilities for our warfighters to conduct DMO and EABO requires realistic experimentation,” Hays said. “Everything changes when you leave a lab environment; therefore, we are looking to operationalize experimentation.
“We don’t experiment for the sake of experimentation,” he added. “We do it to reach an outcome, where the results inform how the Navy designs future tools and communications that are developed for the warfighter.”
Most of the test equipment — which included a tethered, radio-equipped aerostat flying overhead and unmanned surface vessels in and around Charleston Harbor — launched from the western tip of Sullivan’s Island. Communications also established on beaches near Fort Moultrie and a pier off Fort Sumter National Monument tested the interoperability of various system configurations.
Cliff Hunt, NIWC Atlantic’s senior scientific technical manager for assured communications and a major facilitator of the exercise, said the community support in the weeks and months leading up to the event was invaluable.
“Sullivan’s Island has a long history of supporting the nation’s military, dating all the way back to Fort Moultrie in the Revolutionary War,” Hunt said. “We are very appreciative of the town and its community members for showing us so much support during this week’s technology experiment.”
NIWC Atlantic routinely conducts testing on Sullivan’s Island. Leaders said military radios did not interfere with other frequencies or electronic communications in the area.
Robert Gamberg, NSWC Crane’s fleet experimentation lead, said the environment was the perfect place for his team to carry out their mission.
“To evaluate communications intended for a tactical maritime environment, we needed a realistic setting,” said Gamberg, who grew up in South Carolina and traveled here to lead the exercise. “Thanks to NIWC Atlantic’s overwhelmingly strong support throughout the planning, coordination and execution of this event, our team could operate in an ideal location that enabled the successful completion of critical testing and experimentation.”
About NIWC Atlantic
As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.
About NSWC Crane
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory in Crane, Indiana, and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s warfighter.
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