RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Greenert: Navy S&T Could Fall Behind Under Sequestration Cuts
By Sarah Sicard
Navy officials said returning to sequestration funding levels in 2016 could drastically lessen the amount of money allocated toward the service's modernization efforts — particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
"This world operates on STEM," Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations said Feb. 4 at the Naval Future Force Science and Technology Expo.
Should sequestration levels resume, naval innovation in STEM could fall behind in the next five to 10 years, he said. Even under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, the Navy has been able to accomplish only 20 to 30 percent of its modernization efforts, he added.
For fiscal year 2016, the Navy requested $2.11 billion for science and technology. That's slightly down from the $2.15 billion enacted for 2015. However, the Navy's request for overall research and development is $17.9 billion, up roughly $2 billion from last year.
Overall, the president's budget asked for $534 billion in base funding for the Defense Department, exceeding Budget Control Act caps by about $35 billion.
This month, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) released its bi-annualNaval Science and Technology Strategy.
"The Naval S&T strategy guides ongoing research — about one percent of the Department of the Navy's annual budget," said Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, chief of naval research, in the strategy's introduction.
While deploying sailors and Marines see the future 90 days ahead, and investment strategists look five years ahead, research and development must be measured in terms of decades, he said. Several programs under the office's S&T umbrella have been years in the making, Winter added.
For instance, "the technology that is going into the electromagnetic railgun prototype has been in the works for the last 15 to 20 years," he said. The weapon works by using electromagnetic forces to quickly accelerate and launch a projectile between two conductive rails. Demonstrations are expected by 2016.
While many up-and-coming projects are still classified, Winter said great strides will be taken in the areas of electromagnetic maneuver warfare, manned-unmanned teaming and underwater maneuver warfare.
A next-generation fighter is also a key priority, said both Greenert and Winter.
The fighter must have full spectrum dominance. It will also have autonomous sensor and payload integration, Winter said. Though nothing is concrete, he added, "we will let you know when we get it."
Three areas that Greenert highlighted as naval S&T priorities are next-generation armaments, undersea warfare stamina and cyber security.