ONR Chief: International Partnerships Key to S&T Development


LONDON — Collaborating with allied nations, and particularly the United Kingdom, is critical to developing cutting edge technology, said the chief of the Office of Naval Research Sept. 15.

Rear Adm. Mathias Winter said ONR is working with foreign navies and research labs to encourage what he called “S&T diplomacy,” he said during a panel discussion at the Defence and Security Equipment International conference.

“I want us to reach out and collaborate together and get past the niceties and the politeness of drinking tea and coffee and let’s get down to business of actually sharing that information, translating that into capabilities and getting it on your aircraft carriers and our aircraft carriers, getting it onto our submarines, getting it into the hands of sailors and Marines where the true investment is realized,” he said at the forum held at the Excel Conference Center.

ONR works closely with the U.K. Royal Navy and the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) through a science and technology bilateral agreement, he said.

“That opens the data, information, knowledge and capability exchange,” he said. “It’s not specifically one project or another. It provides an environment for our two countries and our two navies specifically and our technological communities to come together.”

ONR has collaborated with the U.K. on the large-displacement unmanned undersea vehicle–innovative naval prototype, which is envisioned as an underwater drone that is capable of prowling the littorals for months or even years before resurfacing. The United States and the U.K. are researching new power technologies to enable that extreme endurance, Winter said.

“We’re pursuing advanced materials with our research — storage devices that will allow us to operate undersea vehicles not for days and weeks … [but for] years and decades,” he said. “How do we ensure that we can operate and engage in the hydrodynamic domain the way we do right now in the aerodynamic domain?”

Research is also underway for directed energy weapons and more, he said.

Winter praised forums such as DSEI as a way to share ideas with governments, academia and industry.

Rear Adm. James Morse, assistant chief of the naval staff for capability in the U.K. Royal Navy, said the collaboration between the U.K. and the United States is a way to challenge each other and “add to both our understandings” of new cutting edge technology.

Winter said that as the United States puts more money into science and technology funding, so are its adversaries. However, the country is well positioned to counter those threats.

From left to right: Richard Brooks; Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, U.S. Navy; Rear Adm. James Morse, Royal Navy

“When I look across … the global stage of the adversarial environment, the areas that we need to continue to be mindful of are the same areas that we’re investing in right now — in understanding directed energy, in understanding the phenomenology of unmanned systems, in assured communications, in our cyber effects and exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum,” he said.

Richard Brooks, delivery director at DSTL, said adversaries such as non-state actors have been able to rapidly adopt new technologies, particularly in the cyber domain. Therefore, governments such as the United States and U.K. must be agile in their responses and development of new capabilities, he said.

Topics: International, Science and Engineering Technology

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