By Emelie Rutherford

Navy researchers want industry to help them refine solicitations for 14 forthcoming enabling-capability projects (ECs) with more than $380 million in recently secured funding.

Joseph Lawrence, the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) director of transition, said yesterday that solicitations for the 14 late-stage-research efforts will be released to industry–in the form of requests for proposals (RFPs) and Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs)–early next calendar year.

ECs, each of which can be made up of one or more science-and-technology initiatives, address pressing needs identified by Navy and Marine Corps leaders. They are intended to last for three to five years before transitioning to actual acquisition efforts, Lawrence said.

"We [at ONR]…encourage your early engagement with us to help refine the plans prior to the release of these BAAs and RFPs over the next probably two, three, four months," Lawrence told a defense industry crowd at the ONR Naval S&T Partnership Conference in Washington, D.C.

"So there’s an opportunity here that I would very much encourage you to take advantage of."

ONR hopes to have the 14 EC contracts awarded by the beginning of fiscal year 2010, which starts Oct. 1, 2009. That’s when funding will be available for the initiatives, because they have secured funding in the Navy’s next five-year budget plan, the FY ’10 Program Objective Memorandum (POM ’10), Lawrence said. The service’s POM ’10 request was finalized and submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense last month.

The 14 approved ECs, according to Lawrence’s slide presentation, are titled:

  • Advanced Shipboard Water Desalinization
  • Affordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast (for improved surface situational awareness)
  • Corrosion and Corrosion Related Signature Technologies for Increased Operational Availability
  • High-Band Width Free-Space Lasercomm
  • Actionable Intelligence Enabled by Persistent Surveillance
  • SATCOM Vulnerability Mitigation
  • Anti Ship Missile Defense Technologies (Hardkill)
  • High Fidelity Active Sonar Training
  • Advanced Sonar Technology for High Clearance Rate Mine Counter Measures
  • Next-Generation Counter-Measures Technologies for Ship Missile Defense
  • Affordable Vector Sensor Towed Arrays and Signal Processing
  • Selectable Output Weapon ("This EC will provide tac-air pilots the ability to select weapon-effects from the cockpit in real-time based on the target type and target environment," Lawrence said.)
  • Multi-Target Track and Terminate
  • Lighten the Load of Dismounted Combatants

Lawrence only briefly described the 14 ECs, encouraging conference attendees to talk to ONR officials steering the projects.

There is $380.8 million for these 14 efforts in POM ’10, according to Lawrence’s presentation.

"We’re in the planning stage," he told the gathering. "We want your input. We need your partnership to succeed."

ONR develops proposed ECs after capability gaps are identified by a technical-oversight group made up of officials from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) and Headquarters Marine Corps. IPTs made up of senior resources, acquisition, fleet-force, and science-and-technology members vet and prioritize the ECs, while the technical-oversight group prioritizes their funding and ONR is responsible for execution management of them, Lawrence said.

After the projects are transitioned to the acquisition community, ONR continues to track them, until they make it to the fleet force, "so that we have some fairly serious lessons-learned out of the process," he said.