Submarines, Destroyers, Carriers and Amphibious Assault Ships will increasingly need to share information, and network targeting and radar data during war time. In addition, they will rely upon advanced levels of computerized autonomy to succeed when attacking in a high-risk major power maritime warfare environment.
The U.S Navy has issued two task orders to BAE Systems to integrate the Navy’s fast-emerging communications system called Consolidated Afloat Network Enterprise Services (CANES), for two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a Virginia-class submarine, and two Blue Ridge-class command ships.
CANES provides Navy surface ships with the computing, transmission and storage connection from individual work stations to servers, routers, radio systems, weapons and fire control; it is designed to seamlessly network ships, submarines, shore locations and other tactical nodes in a maritime environment.
CANES continues to be installed on carriers, amphibious assault ships, destroyers and submarines, and the service has completed at least fifty CANES systems and has many more in production. Nodes on CANES communicate use an automated digital networking system, or ADNS, which allows the system to connect with satellites assets using multiband terminals. CANES is able to gather and securely transmit data from various domains and enclaves, including secret and unclassified networks.
The Navy has for years been updating CANES, as it’s a network which relies upon hardened cyber and IT connectivity along with radio and other communications technologies. CANES is being specifically configured to increase automation—and perform more and more analytical functions without needing human intervention. It is one of many emerging technologies now being heavily fortified by new algorithms enabling artificial intelligence, senior Navy leaders have explained over the years.
Surface ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship, rely upon a host of interwoven technologies intended to share key data in real time—such as threat and targeting information, radar signal processing and fire control systems. CANES connectivity, and AI-informed analysis, can be fundamental to the operation of these systems, which often rely upon fast interpretation of sensor, targeting or ISR data to inform potentially lethal decisions.
The LCS, in particular, draws upon interconnected surface and anti-submarine “mission packages” engineered to use a host of ship systems in coordination with one another. These include ship-mounted guns and missiles along with helicopters, drones such as the Fire Scout and various sonar systems—the kinds of things potentially enabled by, and even dependent upon CANES.
Navy developers say increasing cybersecurity, mission scope and overall resiliency on the CANES networks depends on using a common engineering approach with routers, satcom networks, servers and computing functions.
The current thinking, pertinent to LCS and other surface vessels, is to allow ship networks to optimize functions in a high-risk or contested combat scenario by configuring them to quickly integrate new patches and changes necessary to quickly defend on-board networks. Computer automation, fortified by AI-oriented algorithms able to autonomously find, track and—in some cases—destroy cyberattacks or malicious intrusions without needing extensive and time-consuming human interpretation.
Resiliency on the CANES networks depends on using a common engineering approach with routers, satcom networks, servers and computing functions. The Navy’s plan is to allow ship networks to optimize functions in a high-risk or contested combat scenario by configuring them to quickly integrate new patches and changes to defend the CANES network as new technology emerges.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.