Factors Driving Warship Acquisition Trends: How are These Supporting or Restricting Innovation?
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Factors Driving Warship Acquisition Trends: How are These Supporting or Restricting Innovation?

By CIOReview | Wednesday, October 20, 2021

For most navies, lowering the total cost of ownership is a top priority, and automation and enhanced autonomy can help drive innovation.

FREMONT, CA: The capability to confront developing threats or offer global tensions and external sources drive maritime security. As technology advances, navies must be able to change ships and submarines to improve their effectiveness or fight against new threats.

Moreover, design and technology innovation must be recognized as a critical enabler for export sales and the benefits to naval capability in national shipbuilding goals. Politics has always played a crucial part in government purchases, where a recurrent theme is necessary for local content to boost national economies. Within the military realm, technological advancements pushed by the commercial sector are a driving force for change. Military procurement has the chance to incorporate these enhancements when they become available, resulting in improved through-life capability.

With many countries aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050, environmental issues are becoming increasingly important in new ship design projects. Diesel-electric and hybrid solutions help to cut down on fuel use, and exhaust scrubbers and energy recovery devices are now commonly specified.

Batteries or greener fuels may be the next step; however, there are significant hurdles to integrating these technologies in a naval setting, such as additional dangers or larger space demands. Increasing regulatory requirements improve standards and safety, but it also stifles innovation and lengthens development cycles. For most navies, lowering the total cost of ownership is a top priority, and automation and enhanced autonomy can help drive enhancement. However, if procurement and through-life costs are kept separate, it can be challenging to balance costs. Intelligent procurement techniques that support whole-life cost decisions can yield big benefits, but they necessitate accurate cost modeling.

Another significant difficulty in the modern navy is crewing vessels. Crewing is a crucial contributor to through-life costs, and it is getting increasingly difficult to recruit. The main challenges include:

Keeping the damage control staff to a minimum.

Integrating complicated automation systems with humans.

Ensuring that the systems are reliable and safe.

The rapid development of digital and autonomous systems continues, but one will not see a fully autonomous warship for several years. Smaller autonomous and remotely piloted devices, on the other hand, are already in use.

As a result, most navies have made integrating these systems into new and existing ship designs a top priority, and the ship's versatility is a key concern. Existing designs from a few suppliers may suppress innovation by reducing program risk by utilizing established technology whenever available. This, along with economic limits and procurement agencies' unwillingness to take on risk, has the potential to impede innovation.