ARLINGTON, Va.--Cyber and electronic warfare, shrinking defense budgets, and critical international science and technology partnerships were some of the key concerns for seven military leaders from around the world who met this week at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.
Sharing thoughts about present and future fleet and force needs during the "International Naval Leadership Panel: Naval Technology 2025 and Beyond," the chiefs of naval research or their representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Singapore and the United Kingdom talked about common technology challenges--and opportunities--in a session moderated by U.S. Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. Mat Winter.
"As we look at a global proliferation of threats," said Winter, who heads the Office of Naval Research (ONR), "how can we stay ahead?"
The consensus answer from the panelists was that science and technology (S&T) collaborations will be essential to giving warfighters the edge in a rapidly changing and technologically advancing world.
"International partnerships are literally a force multiplier," Winter noted. "No one place has a monopoly on innovation or new concepts."
Jamie Watson, of the Defence Science and Technology Group in Australia, agreed, noting that the alignment of the Australian Navy and its overseas partners was essential as that nation advances work in anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare, radar and other areas.
He also praised the regular exchange of scientists and engineers between partner nations.
These intense levels of cooperation, he said, reflect "a strong desire for interoperability," which in turn contributes to making research "more cost effective, mutually beneficial ...and increases mutual reliance."
The panel was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research Global, the arm of ONR that sponsors international scientific exchanges, conferences and research that supports collaboration between naval personnel, scientists and technologists around the world.
The annual Sea-Air-Space exhibition is hosted by the Navy League and focuses on matters of interest to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Multiple technologies were listed by the participants as key to future maritime security. Common areas of concern, and opportunity, that were central to the assembled naval S&T leaders included:
- -- Staying ahead of adversaries in the rapidly-changing cyber arena.
-- New research to enhance human performance (both Winter and Rear Adm. Harris Chan of Singapore discussed cutting-edge research projects designed to provide individuals with seemingly superhero-like healing and load-carrying capabilities, for instance).
-- Developing advanced autonomous unmanned platforms for use beneath the waves, on the surface and in the air.
"As we listen to others, we see we have the same problems," said Chan. "Collaboration is key to everything we do."
To achieve and maintain dominance in different critical research areas, officials said, international partnerships have been, and will be, increasingly essential. Each country has its own industry and academia capable of providing unique perspectives and experiences. Collaboration advances new capabilities for the future force through diverse approaches and shared resources, with costs reduced by leveraging related work and avoiding duplication of research.
This important commitment, said Winter, has already proved its value, and will continue "to ensure our warfighters have the technological advantage to achieve their mission."