Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert recently said that the service needs to focus on open, modular designs to make ships and systems more easily and rapidly upgradable to save money and get the best possible capability.

Greenert said the Navy can no longer afford lengthy upgrade periods for highly integrated systems without embracing open architecture solutions.

An MK 15 Baseline 2 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS). Photo: U.S. Navy
An MK 15 Baseline 2 Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS). Photo: U.S. Navy

“We cannot build these integrated things that when you want to upgrade you have to put them in a dry dock for 18 months and rip out all the cabling and everything,” he said at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum earlier this month.  “You have to be able to plug in and figure out how to do that. It’s modularity.”

Greenert also called for getting systems fielded and tested earlier in the development process to reduce technological risk to determine if they are feasible “so we don’t spend millions and billions” on something that may not work.

“We need to get engineering design module concepts out and demonstrate them sooner,” he said.

As has been his theme since becoming CNO, Greenert emphasized his focus on payloads being more critical than the platforms hosting them. “It’s all about payloads, much less about platforms,” he said.

Greenert said that rather than relying on the development of new platforms, the Navy should be taking a look at capabilities that can be integrated onto the platforms.

“What do you have that you can do with more innovation?” the CNO said, later adding: “It’s looking at what you have and seeing what you can do with that.”