The Navy’s Unmanned Task Force looks at venture capital-inspired processes to find investments

Washington — The U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Task Force spent the first nine months developing a venture capital model to select promising technologies and is now identifying candidates who can solve fighter issues within the next five years. I’m starting.

The Task Force officially began work in August and launched the first cross-departmental pilot program in January, which will run for 12-18 months.

As part of this pilot program, the Unmanned Task Force has partnered with the US Fleet General Army and the US Pacific Fleet to understand specific operational issues that can be solved by unmanned systems such as artificial intelligence and machine learning and enablers. Task Force Executive Director Michael Stewart told reporters on May 25.

With operational needs in mind, according to Stewart, the Task Force uses venture capital-like methods to identify potentially rewarding investments. Identify what can be applied to the Warfighter Challenge. Look for potential barriers to implementation. Choose a technique for further experimentation. And finally, select a few items to receive a small investment.

“I wanted to make sure that whatever the requirements, I could go back to defense strategy, the concept of joint operations, and the CNO. [Navigation] “Planning and Commander’s Planning Guidance,” Stewart said. “We wanted to make sure that the fighter was actually solving the problem they were concerned about.”

Since the formation of the Task Force, the group has identified the first few techniques for initial investment, not what they are, but a cross-departmental team through this venture capital methodology. We have verified that we can make quick decisions.

The Task Force collects information from fleets, Navy Research Bureaus, Navy Combat Centers, resource sponsors, system commands, and more. Some techniques may not be worth the cost in fleet experiments, but the Task Force takes into account compatibility with other Navy systems and other considerations often overlooked in the siled acquisition process. Not because it wasn’t. By including all stakeholders in the selection process, Stewart said, mistakes should be avoided.

“Many unmanned things are going on and are very fragmented, and we’re putting them together to scale, learn, and accelerate what’s happening,” he said. ..

Deputy Admiral Francis Morley, Deputy Vice Admiral of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition, and Deputy Admiral Scott Conn, Deputy Admiral of Navy Operations for combat requirements and capabilities, manage the MTF. Lead the committee.

Stewart said he shed light on early recommendations for initial investments. The quick capture cell under the task force then considers the best way to retrieve the technology itself or the data it produces.

He said the US Fifth Fleet MTF 59 (a separate but related effort) produced lessons for unmanned MTF. The group adopted off-the-shelf techniques and applied them to operational issues, especially awareness of the maritime sector. In order to move as quickly as possible, such as experimenting with a large unmanned fleet just months after the MTF was formed, the Fifth Fleet leased most unmanned aerial vehicles rather than buying them. ..

According to Stewart, the Unmanned Task Force is looking at optimal acquisition models for future unmanned technologies, including contractor-owned / contractor-operated models. In that scenario, the Navy pays only for the data it needs, rather than buying hardware for operation and maintenance.

In these early sprints from the Task Force 59, and the Unmanned Task Force, “They are pushing the limits of what commercial technology is. [the Office of Naval Research]They may say, “Well, if we had this other sensor on this one” or something, it’s a request signal to [ONR] I’m going to do other things, “Stewart said. “They are trying to reach the cutting edge of what commercial technology has, and where are the military gaps?”

The unmanned task force has been almost quiet since the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gildy announced its creation in SeptemberBut Stewart said he wanted to talk more about the job and claim more money.

According to Stewart, the Task Force will meet early with several Parliamentary Commission staff to see how Congress’s concerns about moving too fast and reducing product failure and reliability are incorporated. explained. He said these conversations also included ideas for the Innovation Fund, and that the Task Force needs to be able to launch new technologies within the next five years.

At the end of 12-18 months, the Task Force is set up to provide Morley and Con with a list of investment and acquisition recommendations. However, Stewart warned that this list could share lessons about valuable investment characteristics and the benefits of different acquisition strategies for different types of technology, rather than specific branded technologies. ..

Megan Eckstein is a Defense News naval warfare reporter. Since 2009, she has covered military news with a focus on US Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs, and budgets. She reports from four geographic fleets and she is the happiest when submitting a story from a ship. Megan is a graduate of the University of Maryland.

https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2022/05/25/navys-unmanned-task-force-turns-to-a-venture-capital-inspired-process-to-find-investments/ The Navy’s Unmanned Task Force looks at venture capital-inspired processes to find investments

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