ACHIEVING NAVAL SUPERIORITY WITH SOFTWARE
By Eur Ing Paul Parkinson, Senior Systems Architect Aerospace & Defence, Wind River
This paper will discuss the impact of changing world threats on the development of naval systems; in particular the role of software in enhancing the capabilities of fleets to address new threats and extend the in-service lifetimes beyond those originally envisaged.
The Changing Threat
In today’s uncertain world, governments are striving to deal with new emerging threats to their countries and their nation’s interests around the world. They are changing the roles and the composition of their surface and submarine fleets to address these new types of threats.
During the Cold War era, the role of the navy was well defined, and changes to the nature of the threat and an enemy’s capability could be predicted. The development of new surface ships and submarines to fulfil specific roles, such as anti-submarine warfare, could be planned and implemented with reasonable expectation that the threat would not change substantially during the development phase.
Since the end of the Cold War, the upsurge in political instability and emerging conflicts around the world has led to governments asking their naval forces to undertake wide-ranging missions, from UN peacekeeping operations to military strikes, in diverse climates and geographically dispersed theatres of operations. These varied operational parameters present new challenges to naval systems which may have been developed for more narrowly defined roles; especially when considering asymmetric warfare in counter-terrorism operations, where an opponent may use non-traditional combat techniques to deadly effect.
The Changing Response
The United States has continued to maintain the world’s largest naval fleet, maintaining continuous readiness to deploy six carrier strike groups simultaneously, providing a global force projection capability even where foreign basing may be denied. However, many other western governments have been under political pressure to minimise growth in defence budgets so that spending can be increased in other more expedient policy areas, and have sought to achieve greater breadth of capabilities without significantly increasing the size of their fleets.
In the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Defence’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review  identified a change in the primary role for aircraft carriers from North Atlantic anti-submarine warfare to force projection anywhere around the world. In the intervening years, the UK Royal Navy fleet has significantly reduced in size, but the introduction into service of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, Type-45 Daring class destroyers and Astute class submarines will provide greater expeditionary capabilities (also known as a blue water navy) than in the cold war era. However, given the long lead times for development and construction of completely new naval vessel designs to meet these requirements, an interim change in capability can be achieved through adaptation and upgrade of existing in-service vessels, and the addition of capability to vessels already undergoing development. For example, the Type-45 Destroyer was conceived as an air defence destroyer providing self, local and fleet area defence; but it could potentially provide air defence for London in an airborne terrorist attack or missile attack by a rogue state. In addition, the Astute submarine, which was originally conceived for an anti-submarine warfare role, can now also participate in a Maritime Contribution to Joint Operations (MCJO) with the ability to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles from its torpedo tubes, or possibly assist in the deployment of special forces.
Other European NATO countries are also upgrading their naval fleets, with the French Marine Nationale, and Italian Marine Militare taking delivery of the Horizon frigates which will provide enhanced air defence capabilities usi