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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Navy Selects Five Vendors to Update its Ships Afloat Network
Navy Selects Five Vendors to Update its Ships Afloat Network
By Sarah Sicard

The Navy on Aug. 20 awarded five eight-year contracts valued at $2.5 billion a
s part of a continued effort to its update network systems for ships at sea

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command selected BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, General Dynamics C4 Systems, Global Technical Systems, Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Serco Inc. for the consolidated afloat networks enterprise services (CANES) production phase.

“Our goal is to see competition throughout the eight-year period of performance," said Capt. Ben McNeal, tactical networks major program manager. "Initially, each of the awardees is tasked to produce one destroyer production unit."

Afterwards, the five industry teams will be competing against each other for continuous firm-fixed-price production and training contracts.

The current network setup on naval ships consists of old technologies retrofit with new hardware and software in order to keep up with advancements in the field. The resulting effect is a slow system that is constantly in need of repairs and leaves the security of the cyber networks aboard ships at risk.

The solution is to replace ailing technologies by modernizing hardware and software through the CANES program. The end goal is a single shipboard network outfitted with the latest computing and cyber security technologies.

"The operating systems that exist today on some of those legacy networks are not sustainable," said Rear Adm. Christian Becker, program executive officer, command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I).
"CANES improves our operational capability at the same time decreasing our cost for sustainment costs caused by our legacy networks."

Some of the legacy systems have been around since 1999, and are experiencing end-of-life issues, said Becker.

Navy officials are hoping these vendors will allow them to upgrade key technologies by focusing on virtualization and consolidation, along with big data and cloud technologies.

"What we've incorporated in CANES is a robust systems management domain that is made up of a robust set of software and tools to allow us to be able to identify each of the components from hardware and software and cyber solutions within the architecture," said McNeal.

In the early stages of CANES, the Navy selected Northrop Grumman 
in 2012 for a design and development and limited deployment phase.

"CANES is a significantly faster, more secure and flexible network," Dave Wegmann, director, maritime command and control systems at Northrop Grumman Information Systems, said in a statement. "Our original network design remains important to ensure CANES affordability and agility in delivering the next generation of C4I capabilities."

In order to prevent these systems from becoming obsolete, CANES has created a timeline for upgrades.

"We have a two-year development cycle for software, and a four-year cycle for hardware, and in between those two periods the government will be taking on the effort of looking at issues, coming up with solutions," said McNeal.

CANES installations have been completed aboard nine destroyers, and the Navy hopes to equip 180 vessels by 2022.

Credit: Guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (Navy photo)


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