The Navy is in the midst of standing up its acquisition “speed lane,” called the Maritime Accelerated Capabilities Office, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said March 10.
Based on the Air Force’s rapid capabilities office, MACO will compress the current acquisition timeline, allowing mature technologies to move more quickly into the hands of sailors without getting hampered by the bureaucratic chokepoints common in the weapons buying process, he said during the McAleese and Associates’ FY2017 Defense Programs Conference. “It’s a fast track for technologies that are appropriate to get them through all of the acquisition wickets and into production faster.”
The goal is to “migrate more and more things over to the MACO lane until just the stragglers are in the slow lane,” he added.
Richardson envisions that MACO will work hand in hand with service’s proposed rapid prototyping and experimentation department, which the CNO pitched in the 2017 budget as a mechanism to increase the service’s use of prototypes and move them from development into the fleet. Not all of those new prototypes will work as planned, but those that the Navy chooses for further development could be candidates for MACO, he said.
The prototyping and experimentation department will be staffed by a team of experts of various disciplines, he said.
“We’re going to aim at individual technologies that are relatively mature that might be engineered together to provide a unique solution, and then we’ll get that together and we’ll get it out,” he said. “We’ll do some in house testing and then get it out to the fleet as fast as we can. And that’s where the learning really starts.”
The Navy has greatly benefited from experimentation in the past. During the interwar period between World Wars I and II, the service often used wargames to drive advances in technology. This interplay between engineers and operators helped push new tech and operational concepts forward, Richardson said. “This kind of back and forth crosstalk, that’s the real sweet spot.”
The service in its fiscal year 2017 budget request allocated $55 million to establish a dedicated rapid prototyping fund. “FY 2017 efforts will address warfighting gaps with prototyping development and experimentation projects,” budget documents stated.