The Coast Guards aviation platforms already have been equipped with the second generation, or Segment 2 Command and Control System, of the technology baseline package developed under the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) project. The project is a multiyear effort to design, develop and integrate the equipment on the
The technology suite was installed on the USCGC Waesche NSC in 2013 for technology demonstration purposes. Over time the equipment will be integrated onto all existing NSCs. The project acquires and integrates electronic sensors, networking, data processing and information-sharing equipment, which help
The C4ISR project also improves data sharing with the partner agencies through the use of the joint version of the Global Command and Control System (GCCS). "We built upon the core GCCS capability, not only for our afloat community but also for the aviation community. That allows us more interoperability with the
The C4ISR project evolved from the much-troubled Integrated Deepwater System Program, commonly referred to as Deepwater. The program awarded a contract in 2002 to a Northrop Grumman-Lockheed Martin consortium to replace aging aircraft, ships and C4ISR technology.
The initial approach was ultimately abandoned. The
The C4ISR project still is scheduled for completion in 2026, the original completion date for the Deepwater program. The project's milestones, however, are determined by the schedules for the major platforms, Capt. Wood points out.
That long, multiyear procurement of platforms creates some challenges for a technology project in which advances come at a rapid pace. The disconnect between rapidly advancing C4ISR technologies and the relative snail's pace of ship building makes it difficult to ensure configuration management and cost controls while racing to develop the most current C4ISR capabilities, Capt. Wood states. Operating systems, for example, expire and transition fairly rapidly. "One of the challenges has been the obsolescence that transpired of the whole C4ISR baseline during the fleet production. We've gone through the initial baseline, and we're already on the second generation during the construction of the national security cutters," Capt. Wood adds. "The tough position we're in is that as we deliver cutters over a long stretch of 15 years, we can literally go through three cycles of technology. We're constantly in a tail chase to ensure the information assurance and security of our systems from the first one all the way to the last one."
And as the service equips platforms being manufactured and fielded, they cannot lose focus on those already in operation. "We continually have to be looking in the rear view mirror to allocate budget to the previously delivered asset as we're in production. We cannot forget the assets that are currently afloat or in the air," Capt. Wood declares.
Capt. Healy says commonality is the solution to the problem. "You cope by trying to provide a common set of software across the fleet so that not only does it reduce cost, but it's also a system that the operator is familiar with as he transfers from one type of vessel to another type of vessel." He adds that using common software reduces the number of products to be managed and that the hardware will be robust enough to permit the quick evolution of software. "By having common software that you can manage once, that's one way to cope with the ever-changing technology because you reduce the number of items you have to manage. Ideally, your hardware is robust enough to handle the change in software so that the software can evolve very quickly," Capt. Healy says.
Capt. Wood agrees. "We've tried to create a hardware baseline that is compatible with several iterations of software. What that means is that we're always trying to refresh the software at a faster rate and trying to hold the hardware solid," he reports.
Additionally, the project is challenged by the relative lack of government research and development funding. "The government is looking at the private sector for internal research and development toward the next advancement. A lot of times the private sector wants seed money from the government agencies, and that is becoming more rare and difficult to justify and appropriate. A lot of the seed money for advanced technologies has to be invested by the private entity," Capt. Wood concludes.
Most Popular Stories
- Obama, Ukraine Discuss Russian Incursion in Crimea
- Chinese May Have Spotted Malaysia Airlines Debris
- Social Media Causee Sleep Deprivation in Students
- First-time Jobless Claims Drop Unexpectedly
- Banks Buying Little From Minority Firms: Study
- General Electric Plans IPO of Credit Card Unit
- SXSW Crash Kills 2, Injures 23
- First-time U.S. Jobless Claims Hit 3-month Low
- 'Candy Crush' Maker Files IPO
- U.S. Business Inventories Up, Retail Sales Down