Lockheed eyes system-of-systems for submarines

The Lockheed Martin Corp. Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Manassas, Va., is moving ahead with a U.S. Navy program to create common, open-architecture system-of-systems electronic designs aboard most Navy submarines to promote interoperability during joint operations with integrated fighting forces. Officials of the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $13.5 million order to Lockheed Martin on Wednesday to provide additional engineering, integration, and testing for the Submarine Warfare Federated Tactical Systems (SWFTS) program, which seeks to enable submarines to join integrated fighting forces in coastal areas and harbors, as well as in the open ocean.

SWFTS is composed of all submarine combat systems and subsystems, mainly consultation, command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence to provide for the overall integration of submarine subsystems into one combat system for naval battle group interconnectivity. The program is a system-of-systems composed of tactical and support subsystems, each of which is developed under an independent business model. SWFTS is the engineering umbrella to integrate and deliver these subsystems as one system.

SWFTS has become common to four of the five classes of submarines, enabling a cost reduction in maintaining independent systems and an increase in efficiency. It allocates and tests warfare requirements across subsystems, and is not an acquisition program.

Integration results when independent systems are integrated into a larger submarine system that delivers capabilities greater than the sum of its parts. Separate systems retain individual program management. The goal is to enable submarines to support network-centric warfare and join integrated fighting forces for battle group operations; strike warfare; intelligence collection and surveillance; indication and warning; electronic warfare; special warfare; mine warfare; anti-submarine warfare; and anti-surface ship warfare.

Previously, the Navy had five different combat systems on five different submarine classes -- the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine (SSN 688), the improved SSN 688, the Seawolf-class fast attack submarine (SSN 21), the Ohio-class cruise-missile submarine (SSGN 726), and the Virginia-class fast attack submarine (SSN 774). The SWFTS program developed a common architecture for these five different classes of submarines based on open architectures and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and subsystems. This not only transformed submarines from stand-alone vessels to nodes in combat networks, but also saved hundreds of millions of dollars, Navy officials say. The SWFTS programs approach focuses on open system interface standards and widely available commercial computer products.

As a result, all Navy submarines except the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN 726) contain the same basic set of subsystems and information architecture with some variations to accommodate different sensors and mission capabilities. The SWFTS program has installed external Internet protocol (IP) communications capability aboard Navy attack and cruise-missile submarines to enable network-centric strike, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence and reconnaissance, special operations, and anti-ship missions. IP capability also enables chat, e-mail, and Web services to exchange information among submarine crew members and mission stations with several different security levels, based on the sensitivity of the missions at hand the subsystems being used.

The SWFTS network-centric design approach enhances interoperability among joint forces and the combatant commanders by enabling the sharing of authenticated, trusted, and verified information among authorized users, applications, and weapon systems.


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