WEST BETHESDA, Md. —
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (DASN) for Unmanned Systems (UxS) Frank Kelley visited Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division April 20 to hear about Carderock's contribution to unmanned systems, aeronautical expertise and legacy of innovation.
Kelley briefed a full room of more than 120 engineers about the roadmap for UxS, talking in more detail about the progress so far and what's to come.
"Our vision and our future with unmanned systems is limitless," Kelley said. "The Navy more than any other service has a legitimate right and claim to have unmanned systems in every single domain. But, with that, comes the responsibility of being able to employ them in every domain and doing what you folks do here, and that is coming up with systems that can operate in every domain, in between domains, across domains."
Kelley reviewed the National Defense Strategy, secretary of the Navy priorities and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts' goals, repeating Geurts' intent: "Our focus remains on implementing the National Defense Strategy and that should be the lens through which you view your priorities and weight of effort - increasing lethality, increasing our partnerships and streamlining our processes."
Kelley said he fully recognized the importance of the Warfare Centers to UxS efforts and that he was impressed with not only what is going on at Carderock, but also the cooperation and willingness of Carderock's leadership to say Carderock is ready to satisfy the Navy's unmanned systems needs.
"The Warfare Centers each have their own culture, their own identities," Kelley said. "And it all goes back to how they started. No other warfare center can do what Carderock does. And we need your unique capabilities. Together with the other warfare centers, the Department of the Navy can achieve our unmanned systems goals and execute our roadmap."
When DASN UxS was established in 2015, Kelley, recently retired as a Marine brigadier general, said one of their first tasks was to develop a comprehensive roadmap for unmanned systems for the Department of the Navy.
Three primary steps served to inform the roadmap: first, establishing the 2030+ vision for unmanned systems, whether in the open ocean, littorals or in the Arctic; second, defining the barriers to realizing the vision; and third, identifying specific action items to overcome those barriers. In all, approximately 250 action items were identified. From these inputs, DASN UxS developed the Navy's Strategic Roadmap for Unmanned Systems.
"This is a different kind of roadmap - what are the future capabilities and things that are going to enable those future capabilities to take place," Kelley said. "There is a lot of work out there. I want you to know, this is the future--there's no doubt in my mind. Great ideas and great combinations are going to come out of using new technology on platforms that we never envisioned before, with a new set of sensors, coupled with things like artificial intelligence. We are going to use them in new and unique ways that are not only going to make us a more effective Navy and Marine Corps, but are also going to help save lives."
Kelley said the engineers, scientists and researchers at the Warfare Centers need to remember they are doing this work for the fleet, and he encouraged more engagement with the Marines and Sailors ultimately responsible for the operational side of using unmanned systems.
"This is going to be the future and you guys have a critically important part of it," Kelley said. "Carderock's leadership is ready to go, and that's been a very clear message to us at DASN for Unmanned."
This was not Kelley's first time at Carderock. He said he has visited several times and has seen many of Carderock's facilities, but each time he sees something new. This time, he toured the subsonic wind tunnel, the largest in the Navy, and learned about Carderock's long history with aviation and aerodynamics.
Kelley also saw version two of the Optionally Manned Technology Demonstrator (OMTD 2), which was created using big-area additive manufacturing. OMTD 2 will undergo hydrodynamic testing, unlike OMTD 1, which was the initial test version developed by Carderock's Disruptive Technologies Lab.