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CHIPS Articles: DON Innovators, Industry Tackle Fleet’s Toughest Challenges

DON Innovators, Industry Tackle Fleet’s Toughest Challenges
By Lt. Cmdr. Adam Heil - March 2, 2017
Last November, aviators from across the Navy and Marine Corps met at the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in Silicon Valley, California, to design a new vision for Mission Planning.

The week-long Tactical Advancements for the Next Generation (TANG) was the first-ever for the Aviation Community, focused on Aviation Mission Support (AMS). Tackling this challenge were more than 50 hand-selected aviators across the various platforms in the Naval Aviation Enterprise that were charged with generating new concepts that will be rapidly prototyped and delivered to address challenges that face the community.

The project is sponsored by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) program office for Strike Planning and Execution Systems, PMA-281, as well as the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Air Warfare Division (OPNAV N98) and DIUx. As a West Coast NIAC Fellow, I had the honor to assist the AMS TANG project as a liaison between these sponsoring organizations and the world’s leading technology powerhouses in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area.

TANG participants worked in teams to brainstorm and conceptualize an idea, and then built low fidelity prototypes of the concept to present to the group of aviators, stakeholders, and leading-edge Technology Firms for feedback. Many of the ideas imagined a future for Naval Aviation mission planning where technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and cloud-based data transfer could enable a more formidable air component in theater. The program office, in partnership with organizations from government and industry, has already selected five of the 28 warfighter concepts to develop in the short term, with many more to follow.

Since 2011, TANG has been igniting creativity to deliver solutions for some of the Navy’s toughest challenges, from Submarine Combat Systems to Surface Ship Maintenance to Integrated Air and Missile Defense Mission Planning. The team is a diverse organization that employs human centered design to draw on team ingenuity and interactions to build meaningful solutions.

Lt. Cmdr. Adam Heil is a member of the FY17 SECNAV Naval Innovation Advisory Council (NIAC), a dynamic forum for advisors to conduct research, advance problem-solving projects, and advise the Secretary of the Navy on innovation opportunities within the DON. The DON Office of Strategy and Innovation coordinates support and oversight of the NIAC. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense or the United States government. For more information, please contact

Join DON Innovation on or @DON_Innovation or visit the SECNAV/DON Innovation website at

Lt. Cmdr. Adam Heil official photo
Lt. Cmdr. Adam Heil official photo
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