Future Naval Capabilities (FNCs)
Innovative Naval Prototypes
In 1999 the Department of the Navy adopted a new process for concentrating its scientific and technological resources to achieve Future Naval Capabilities (FNCs). Since then much of the Navy's and Marine Corps' nearer-term, applied science and technology effort-its Exploitation and Deployment program-has been devoted to providing the means to achieve the Future Naval Capabilities.
The Office of Naval Research [ONR] effort on behalf of Tomorrow's Fleet/Force-largely technology development-are organized in terms of a series of Future Naval Capabilities that focus on major technical barriers challenging the Navy and Marine Corps in transforming themselves for 21st-Century operations. Components and systems developed to solve the operational problems defined by the FNCs are evaluated in feasibility demonstrations, prototypes, and field trials, with the results made available to Navy system developers. FNCs are fully integrated with Navy and Marine headquarters' warfighting requirements and budget-development processes.
On a larger scale, significant long-term efforts are underway to develop several Innovative Naval Prototypes - such as an operational-scale electro-magnetic gun and free-electron lasers, super-conducting electric power systems, and the advanced surface "X-Craft." These initiatives, as well as new concepts for persistent, netted, littoral anti-submarine warfare, sea-basing, and the exploitation of space, represent revolutionary "gamechangers" for future naval warfare.
ONR's role in supporting the development of advanced future platforms and weapons runs the gamut from nurturing naval architecture and marine engineering to basic research and technology development. For decades, ONR has sustained a vigorous program of research and development in support of naval architecture, marine engineering, and advanced hull, mechanical, and electrical (HM&E) systems for ships and submarines. These efforts provide the science and technology needed by the Navy's shipbuilding programs to ensure innovative design, construction, and employment of naval combatants and support ships. ONR's major corporate thrusts are Reduced Signatures, Hydromechanics, Hull Life Assurance, Advanced Electrical Power Systems, Distributed Intelligence for Automated Survivability, and Sea-Basing enablers.
Naval forces respond across the spectrum of conflict in the littorals and, as part of a joint force, in the execution of sustained land operations. Opportunities and challenges in the world's littoral regions will increase America's reliance on the continuous forward presence and sustainable maritime power projection of naval expeditionary forces.
The littoral may be considered to consist of a region 100nm from shore and 100nm inland. This region is often cluttered with heavy coastal shipping and fishing traffic; intense air traffic; oil rigs; small islands; shallow water influences; many sources of electronic radiation from land and sea (commercial and military); and a wide variety of threats from land, sea and air. These characteristics all have adverse implications for naval operations. However, demographic trends indicate that 90% of the world's population will be concentrated in littoral regions by 2025. Also, as numbers of US overseas bases continue to decrease, the littorals will be the main means of access into a crisis area.
Navy and Marine Corps doctrine emphasizes expeditionary warfare, and expeditionary warfare requires uniquely capable combat systems and the logistics to sustain them. The Navy seeks to develop the capability of deploying, reconstituting, and supplying forces from the sea, without building up a large logistical infrastructure ashore. This needs combat and combat support systems that will enable the Navy and Marine Corps team to dominate the battlespace across the spectrum of conflict.
The littoral is considered to be the prototypical "complex adaptive environment" because of the number of intersecting elements such its complex topography (underwater and near land interface), volume of commercial shipping traffic (high signal to noise ratio - clutter management, pattern discrimination), and numerous threats (anti-ship cruise missiles, mines, aircraft, coastal artillery, swarming small boats, and diesel submarines) in aggregate seek to prevent access and confound solutions.
The fog and friction of war has and will always confound commanders because competition continuously increases complexity at a revolutionary pace in order to survive and win. The rapidly increasing complexity that emerges from dynamic competition favors a quick partial solution sooner over a ponderous perfect solution later. As a result, different suite of first-order analytical tools and rudimentary thumb rules supporting a high number of operational experiments will more quickly provide an approximate design for a force that can rapidly change in dynamic competition.
The Littoral Combat Future Naval Capability (LC FNC) addresses critical gaps in the ability of naval forces to successfully execute an expeditionary warfare campaign and is specifically focused on the twin pillars of assured access and sustained operations ashore. The goal of the LC FNC is to pursue the application of technologies to enhance the ability of the Navy/Marine Corps Team to execute the naval portion of a joint campaign in the littorals. An Integrated Product Team representing the Requirements, Acquisition, Science and Technology, and Resources communities has defined and prioritized four enabling capabilities, and developed a high level investment strategy for science and technology resources to achieve the intended goal.
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