We all know how bureaucratic the military procurement process is, and we all know how a lot of gear, particularly computer-based electronic equipment, is outdated by the time it actually hits the field.
In many cases, Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) equipment can fill the requirement. COTS seems to be getting more and more popular as our forces struggle to keep up with mission requirements and the traditional system continues to be bogged down.
Case in point:
Captain Brian Vance of the Program Executive Office of Submarines in San Diego made the comments at the Navy League Symposium in Washington last month.
“We want to maximize COTS usage,” Vance said. Open architectures and open source software are all in play, Vance says. He mentioned that the Navy plans to build on the success of the Acoustics Rapid COTS Insertion program-better known as A-RCI.
A-RCI is a sonar system upgrade installed on all classes of Navy submarines. The system integrates and improves the processing of data from sensors including the towed array, hull array and sphere array. These improvements are achieved by use of COTS-based hardware and software that speeds processing while enhancing fidelity. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for A-RCI.
The A-RCI program provides common sonar systems within an open systems architecture that exploits commercial computing technology, enabling powerful algorithms to detect and classify the slightest underwater sounds.
Seems to me, particularly with all the advances being made in sound processing software and the unimpeded growth of computing hardware capabilities that going more open with this makes sense.
The current submarine technology insertion period is approximately two years, Vance says. The Navy’s goal is to get that down to 35 days per submarine
With the cutbacks in the sub fleet and the various ASW programs, our sub and anti-sub forces need all the advantages they can get.