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NEWS | Aug. 4, 2023

NSWC Crane leads Silent Swarm electromagnetic spectrum experimentation event

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

ALPENA, Mich. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) led Silent Swarm 2023, a two-week experimentation event to further develop early-stage Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) capabilities. Silent Swarm 2023 was sponsored by the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Integrated Sensing and Cyber office (OUSD R&E IS&C). The event was executed July 9-21 in Alpena, Michigan at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center (NADWC).

The Silent Swarm team worked with partners from government labs, academic institutions and industry to experiment with technologies employed on small multi-domain unmanned systems.

Robert “Ice” Gamberg, the Project Lead for Silent Swarm at NSWC Crane, says they were able to increase attendance, partners involved, and technologies demonstrated.

“We really grew this year,” says Gamberg. “We applied what we learned during our first Silent Swarm execution year and we doubled our participation. We’re accomplishing a lot—I’m really proud of this team. This year, we were more specific in our focus areas, and we continued to center our experimentation on the effectiveness of the technologies vice the form factor. It’s also the first year we had partner nations represented, like Australia and the United Kingdom, opening the door to future collaboration.”

More than 30 technology initiatives participated in experimentation, 300 attendees participated in a variety of roles, and the number of organizations involved increased. Several organizations were involved in Silent Swarm 2023 planning and execution, providing resources and expertise: Michigan National Guard, Air Force Test Center (AFTC), Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) C5ISR Center, Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Military branches provided expertise and operational insight as technology assessors, including the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

Sondra Laughlin, the Deputy Project Lead for Silent Swarm at NSWC Crane, says Silent Swarm takes a unique approach to technology development for the warfighter.

“Teams work together to collaborate and win in a realistic environment,” says Laughlin. “Silent Swarm has participants engage in an experimentation mindset, which is unique for events like this. We’re breaking down barriers between government and industry, providing a strong feedback loop for technology developers. Companies see how their tech works in multi-domain environments—underwater, surface, air, at sea, and urban—and can quickly rework their software or hardware on the spot before the next iteration.”

Gamberg says Silent Swarm creates an environment to accelerate technology development.

“The standard acquisition process can be insufficient for some rapidly evolving technologies,” says Gamberg. “The return on investment is we get closer to fielded capabilities in the hands of the joint warfighter by accelerating the development of technology.”

Laughlin says the technology development doesn’t stop at the event.

“Silent Swarm is not an isolated event,” says Laughlin. “It serves as a stepping stone for disruptive tech to get into the hands of the warfighter faster. This is hard work, but we are seeing results indicating that we’ve found some magic here.” 

About NSWC Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory 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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