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CHIPS Articles: A Technology Leap for the Navy, Better Quality of Life for Sailors

A Technology Leap for the Navy, Better Quality of Life for Sailors
CANES provides advanced cybersecurity and more
By Sharon Anderson - October-December 2014
Virtualization, Cloud Computing and Enhanced Cybersecurity

The Navy’s deployment of CANES, Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprises Services, exemplifies a giant step forward in leveraging emerging technologies, such as cloud computing, as well as an acquisition strategy designed to deliver superior performance and value to the Navy, said Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and PEO Space Systems.

Becker was joined by Capt. William "Ben" McNeal, program manager for Tactical Networks, in a brief to reporters Aug. 21 to discuss the selection of vendors for future CANES delivery orders and the importance of CANES to the fleet.

“I’d like to talk [about] a couple of critical points here about CANES. And the first is that CANES itself is critical to our Navy’s information dominance capabilities afloat. And in particular, with regard to our cybersecurity,” Becker said. “Another point I’d like to make is that CANES improves our operational capability, at the same time decreasing our cost for sustainment... The program consolidates and upgrades infrastructure required for five legacy networks from the cyber security, command and control, communications intelligence, and logistics domains. It improves our operational readiness at the same time providing better quality of life for our deployed Sailors.”

In its first deployment, CANES consolidated the Integrated Shipboard Network Systems (ISNS), Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) Local Area Network, Submarine Local Area Network (SUBLAN) and Video Information Exchange System (VIXS).

The CANES program leverages industry best practices, commercial technologies and an open architecture model to reduce costs while at the same time meeting fleet demand for a robust tactical network.

CANES allows greater standardization of shipboard networks and reduces variations from ship to ship increasing interoperability, Becker said. Standardization also helps reduce sustainment costs because the Navy will no longer need to support multiple variations of multiple networks.

CANES is an evolving, adaptable, flexible platform that will keep pace with technology and cybersecurity threats, according to McNeal.

“In the first instantiation of CANES, one of the technologies that was incorporated was basically virtualization and consolidation. In our legacy systems, we had five different systems within the C4I domain that were consolidated using virtualization technologies so that we could absorb and take away the infrastructure requirements from those legacy systems. That was a big leap in technology for us and obviously allowed us to be able to gain a lot of efficiencies in terms of affordability as we move forward,” McNeal said.

“In the second iteration of CANES, from a technology perspective, cloud technologies that allow for cyber awareness and the analysis of what’s called ‘big data in a cloud environment’ is where we’d like to be able to move with our second iteration of CANES,” McNeal said. One of the advantages of using cloud computing is its scalability, its ability to be used at the small unit level, Becker said. The Tactical Networks program office is working with the Office of Naval Research to determine how to best implement cloud technologies within the operational structures and constraints of life at sea, he explained.

“But, as you know, we’re not sailing around trailing a piece of fiber through the sea so we have those bandwidth constraints. But we believe we can implement the advantages of cloud technology at a unit level as we look forward — first starting with a large deck and then throughout the rest of our network,” Becker said.

The benefits of cloud computing will extend to all naval partners, Becker explained.

“In terms of equal play for our naval contingents, it’ll be the same sort of operationally driven priorities that we have today among all members of the naval game, the Navy-Marine Corps team. As the Commandant and the CNO have often said, there’s no daylight between them, and we’ll deliver our C4I capabilities with that in mind,” Becker said.

CANES provides a robust set of software tools for Sailors to monitor, manage, identify and protect the network and react to the cyber threat, according to McNeal. These include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and an information assurance component that combined make up the defense-in-depth architecture.

“We have a core enterprise services domain, which basically entails the operating systems and all of the software that is required to bring functionality to the CANES architecture. That would include the applications and connected systems that are hosted as well,” McNeal said. “We have a communications domain, which is made up of the routing and switching architecture. And we have a computing infrastructure domain, which is basically all of the end devices that help to provide end-user services and voice, video and data services.”

Not only is cybersecurity improved but the automation of these cyber solutions reduces the time it takes Sailors to apply security patches, for example, and increases mission readiness, according to Becker.

“I had the privilege of touring the USS Higgins, which is our OT (operational testing) platform and speaking with the commanding officer, and the XO, and several of the JOs (junior officers) and some of the Sailors, and one of the aspects of CANES that one of the Sailors brought up to me was a pretty big deal for him. That was part of the centralized cybersecurity operations that are enabled by CANES,” Becker said. “Where previously they would have to go out and execute some touch labor on each of the clients for cybersecurity purposes. They’re now able to push those changes from a central location on the network on the ship. Significantly reducing labor time … and increasing the mission readiness of that platform.”

The initial operational test and evaluation of CANES began Aug. 11 onboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76). It will support a full deployment decision to be made in the third quarter of FY 2015, which will enable CANES to continue on to full operational capability.

To date, the program's system maturity is based on performance measures and test data from almost 12,000 hours of cumulative test time. CANES installations aboard destroyers account for more than 15,000 hours of operational time, SPAWAR reported.

A two-year development cycle for software and a four-year development cycle for hardware are part of the CANES strategy for keeping pace with cybersecurity threats, according to McNeal. The next software iteration is under development. The large focus of that is an evolution of operating systems: CANES will move from the Windows 7 operating system to Windows 8. The next generation of hardware is scheduled to be fielded in FY18.

“In between those two and four-year periods the government will be taking on the effort of looking at obsolescence issues, coming up with a solution, and replacing our evolving baseline … so that it always reflects the fact that we are pacing the cyber threat,” McNeal said.

Destroyers serve as the baseline model for CANES, which is designed to scale up or down to accommodate other ship classes, McNeal explained.

CANES Acquisition Strategy

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, on behalf of PEO C4I, selected five vendors to build and deliver CANES. The contract decision was announced Aug. 20.

Each vendor will be awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ), firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The estimated cumulative value of the multiple award contract (MAC) is $2.529 billion. This contract has an eight-year ordering period up to the contract award amount. There are no options. Contract actions will be issued and funds obligated as individual delivery orders. The funds will be placed on the contract with an initial delivery order issued to each contractor on record at the time of the award for a destroyer.

The vendors selected to compete for the future CANES delivery orders are: BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services from Rockville, Maryland, General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, Massachusetts, Global Technical Systems from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Northrup Grumman Systems Corp, Herndon, Virginia, and Serco, Inc. from Reston, Virginia.

“With this follow-up production contract — or production award, CANES continues to demonstrate an effective acquisition strategy, coupled with contract awards based on continuous competition,” Becker said. “Competition for the limited deployment phase, 2011-13, allowed us to accelerate our deployment by three years. This work also allows us to implement tenets of the Better Buying Power principles that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, AT&L, has put in place.”

A single delivery order for one CANES DDG was awarded to each of the five awardees and all future CANES delivery orders will be competed among the five awardees under fair opportunity procedures and applied to multiple award contracts, according to Becker.

“Now this is again a production contract where we, the government, own the network and the design and will be providing the design to the vendors to compete against for the production. Again, this is continuing our successful acquisition strategy — and contract strategy — that we put in place throughout the CANES program,” Becker said.

To level the playing field, initially, each of the awardees is tasked to produce one destroyer production to allow companies that have not previously built a CANES unit to be able to catch up with the incumbent, according to McNeal.

“But our expectation is that the ramp-up or the learning curve will be closed during that first delivery order in which each of the initial awardees provides the procured, assembled, and integrated initial CANES DDG,” McNeal said.

SPAWAR awarded the initial CANES contract to Northrop Grumman in March 2010 for the design and development of the system, followed by a contract for the limited deployment phase of CANES in early 2012.

The majority of the value of the current contract is the fixed-price award. A very small portion that is cost-plus-fixed-fee is related to technical assessments as the CANES design is updated, Becker said.

The plan is to maintain five vendors working on CANES through the life of the program to maximize competition.

Editor's note: On Sept. 2, the two vendors that were not selected for future CANES delivery orders — DRS Laurel Technologies and CGI Federal Inc. — each filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office. According to the GAO website, the due date for a decision for these protests is Dec. 11, 2014.

Total Systems Strategy

The Navy is managing CANES as part of a warfare system, Becker explained.

“When we look at our networks, in the past we’ve looked at platforms separately. We had our combat systems, we had other networks that are stand-alone, [and] we had the information systems that were business system oriented. But what you see today is a growing awareness across our Navy that all of our information systems — all of our information dominance systems are just that: part of a warfare platform,” Becker said.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the Navy will incorporate combat systems directly into CANES, but PEO C4I, in concert with other PEOs, is assessing how to address the total information dominance capabilities, according to Becker.

CANES will ultimately be deployed to 180 ships, submarines and maritime operations centers by 2022.

“There are three force level installs ongoing right now: two aircraft carriers and one large deck amphibious ship. The USS Stennis up in the Pacific Northwest area and in the Norfolk area we have the USS Eisenhower and USS Wasp. Those installations look to complete by the end of the first quarter of FY15 and from that point on next year, as an example, we’ll have five force level ships that will be receiving installations,” McNeal said. “Force level ships are those ships that have a command element. They are largely our aircraft carriers, our large deck amphibious ships, the LHAs and LHDs, and the command and control platforms, the USS Mount Whitney and the USS Blue Ridge. Our FOC (full operational capability) for completion of the initial installations in all platforms is FY22.”

PEO C4I and the Tactical Networks program office are working with the PEOs that are responsible for new ship construction, Becker explained. “As we go through new construction we’ll be part of that team just in much the same way that we work very closely with PEO Carriers and delivering on the four classes of aircraft carriers,” he said.

The schedule for installations will be determined by a CNO availability for maintenance periods. “Delivery orders will be bundled and organized such that we can pace those availabilities,” McNeal said. “We have the flexibility to be able to organize and make up the total of any given bundle based on the dynamics of how we think it would be most beneficial to the government at that time.

“Within any given year we have a fielding plan of about 20 to 30 ships per year that we will go out with a request for proposal … We will group ships to be able to gain the most efficiencies for execution. Those who bid will be evaluated. We will make a determination based on either LPTA or best value. That’s how we plan to move forward with each delivery order,” McNeal said.

The first task orders are expected to be announced in the first quarter of FY15 to align with maintenance schedules. Options for vendor selection include LPTA, or a Lowest Price Technically Acceptable offer, and participation by small business.

Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and PEO Space Systems.
Rear Adm. Christian Becker, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (PEO C4I) and PEO Space Systems.

Capt. William "Ben" McNeal, program manager for Tactical Networks at an industry event. U.S. Navy photo.
Capt. William "Ben" McNeal, program manager for Tactical Networks at an industry event. U.S. Navy photo.

SINGAPORE (Feb. 15, 2013) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) prepares to moor in Singapore. Higgins is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo.
SINGAPORE (Feb. 15, 2013) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) prepares to moor in Singapore. Higgins is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo.

SAN DIEGO (June 18, 2014) CANES units bound for installation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) are loaded and tested in the SPAWAR Network Integration and Engineering Facility prior to fleet delivery. U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystatt.
SAN DIEGO (June 18, 2014) CANES units bound for installation aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) are loaded and tested in the SPAWAR Network Integration and Engineering Facility prior to fleet delivery. U.S. Navy photo by Rick Naystatt.
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