Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Unmanned Maritime Systems Operations and Maintenance Lifecycle Costs

by Dr. Diana Angelis, NPS Faculty, diangeli(at) 

The Navy currently has a number of Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS) that perform a variety of missions including mine countermeasures, maritime security, hydrographic surveying, environmental analysis, special operations, and oceanographic research. While these unmanned systems were rapidly developed and fielded to meet immediate warfighter needs, some of the systems have not been subjected to the normal cost reviews associated with programs of record and in many cases the data required to develop rigorous cost models is limited or unavailable. As a result, the total ownership cost of unmanned maritime systems is not well defined, particularly the costs associated with operations and support.

Dr. Diana Angelis and Mr. Steve Koepenick from SPAWAR have been working on a CRUSER funded project to better understand UMS lifecycle costs with an emphasis on the operations and support costs associated with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV). The first phase of the project brought together subject matter experts from various UMS programs in a warfare innovation workshop held at NPS in March 2015. The workshop participants identified several cost drivers of UUV O&S costs including fleet size, energy requirements, availability, security requirements (including cyber security), and training and retention.

Each of the major cost drivers was further decomposed into the system attributes that influence the magnitude of the cost driver. For example, energy is a function of:

Type of mission, which drives:
 • Area to be covered (which drives range)
 • Time constraints (which drives speed)

Type of energy source, which drives:
• Recharge requirements and # of recharge cycles
• Safety (certification)
• Storage and disposal
An influence diagram for energy costs is shown above. This will form the basis for further research into the factors that drive energy cost for UUVs.

The next steps are to collect data and build regression models that will quantify the relationships between the factors identified in the workshop and UUV O&S cost categories. When fully developed, these models can be used by program offices to forecast UUV O&S costs in support of analysis of alternatives and budgeting decisions.

Participating in the workshop were several NPS students, including four distance learning students in Systems Engineering. These students decided to use the findings of the workshop as a basis for further research in their capstone project. The capstone project will employ an array of systems engineering methodologies to investigate the specific UUV cost drivers associated with two unique mission types and explore the effect of mission requirements on O&S costs. The team has been working with PMS 408 and PMS 406 to develop point estimates and distributions for relevant O&S cost elements of the life cycle cost model. The project is expected to be completed in March 2016.

Reprinted with permission from the Naval Postgraduate School's CRUSER News.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Multi-Domain Unmanned Systems Implementation Creates Comprehensive Maritime Situational Awareness

by Morgan Stritzinger, Public Relations Specialist, Textron Systems, mstritzi(at)

The collaboration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) extends relative reach, and therefore the operational footprint. The unmanned aircraft and USV work together to extend data link ranges, and the USV can carry, deploy and recover the UUV, thereby extending its range and providing a safer environment for the host vessel. Extending mission capabilities is critical to efficient and effective maritime missions, creating situational awareness that delivers actionable data and value.

Unmanned systems are best suited for tasks too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for their manned counterparts and are a pertinent complementary system to manned asset efforts. This includes repetitive tasks that are more costly for humans to perform or represent opportunity for human error, situations in extreme weather and environmental conditions, as well as the execution of dangerous tasks such as mine warfare or mine countermeasures, keeping humans out of harm’s way. Unmanned systems allow humans to remain at a standoff distance, while monitoring and maintaining defense in areas of interest.

Today, unmanned systems can be leveraged in airborne, surface and underwater modalities to bring interoperable force multiplication to the fleet.

  • UAS overhead deliver real-time full-motion video. Multimission Small UAS like Aerosonde™ system carry additional sensors, delivering communications relay and electronic warfare capacity, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – simultaneously. 
  • USVs offer flexible payload bays that can be equipped for mission sets from mine countermeasures to counter-piracy. The Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV™) for the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) program is an example. 
  • The U.S. Navy intends to use the UISS as a mine countermeasure system, designed for sweeping of magnetic and acoustic mines. The CUSV will conduct this mission by towing an underwater sweep system. Small unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, are emerging with various capabilities at different depths that can be easily deployed, towed and retrieved from the CUSV. 
Together, these systems can provide the fleet with multi-domain situational awareness and extended reach and operational capability. Multi-platform control allows several systems to be controlled in parallel, collecting data from numerous sensors, enhancing the common operational picture, and allowing task synchronization. This data fusion at the source, rather than separate from the engagement in an intelligence cell, speeds the decision cycle.

Persistence is another critical advantage in implementing multiple unmanned systems in a maritime environment. Unmanned systems provide multi-sensor coverage over vast expanses with significant endurance. 

Supplementing the fleet with unmanned systems also affords value advantages with more streamlined system footprints, logistical requirements and personnel demands. 

Supporting this are interoperable command-and-control (C2) technologies, maintaining system and payload control of all unmanned systems simultaneously. Currently, Textron Systems’ Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS) is the common control station for the Shadow®, Gray Eagle® and Hunter UAS. C2 systems can form the foundation for teaming between unmanned systems in the multi-domain scenario and can also do so for digital interoperability between manned systems such as the AH-64 Apache and unmanned systems like Shadow and Gray Eagle. Finally, common C2 streamlines training, logistics and maintenance needs and costs.

Unmanned systems technology has advanced to create a significant information and capability advantage for maritime operations. This multi-domain awareness allows personnel to synchronize tasks more seamlessly and turn data into decisive action.  

Reprinted with permission from the Naval Postgraduate School's CRUSER News.