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The Honorable James F. Guerts, performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Navy, visited the Forge software factory in Riverdale, Maryland, April 23.
The Forge is a Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) prototype and the Navy’s first weapons systems software factory.
“I enjoyed seeing all the advancements that have taken place at the Forge and continue to be impressed by the team,” said Geurts. “The efforts taking place at the factory continue to strengthen our conventional capabilities and enhance our ability to acquire and field technology to the warfighter, which is vitally important in this time of Great Power Competition.”
During the visit, Geurts saw first-hand how the team at the Forge is delivering rapid updates to a prototype weapons system on USS Monterey (CG 61). Monterey, an Aegis cruiser with a weapons system installed in the 1990s, received a recent update that provides improved situational awareness and planning capabilities for the ship’s crew.
Currently deployed to the Middle East as the Air Defense Commander for a Carrier Strike Group, Monterey recently became the first US Navy ship to receive weapons systems software updates while at sea. The Forge team delivered two updates, improving the display and planning capabilities for the prototype weapons system, as well as improving the ship’s cyber security. Delivering these updates over the air, while the ship is at sea, demonstrates how software factories like the Forge can give commanders at sea rapid improvements to their warfighting capability and respond to emerging threats.
“For decades, the Aegis team has been focused on delivering the world’s best weapons system based on key engineering cornerstones and a philosophy of rigorous combat system testing. Modern software practices and technologies allow us to test, learn, improve, and deliver our software more rapidly with the same level of engineering rigor. We are all used to this in our daily lives as we receive regular updates to our applications and devices—we are now applying the same technology to ensure our Sailors have the most capable weapons systems in the world,” said Captain Andrew Biehn, Aegis Program Manager.
The Forge is part of PEO IWS’s ongoing digital transformation to rapidly deliver combat capability to the Fleet and out-pace adversaries in support of the Navy’s goal, as stated in the 2021 CNO NAVPLAN, to “close the kill chain faster than our rivals with a resilient web of persistent sensors, command and control nodes, platforms, and weapons.” “As the Navy’s premier combat systems organization, PEO IWS is evolving our existing combat systems into the Integrated Combat System, which will enable force-wide kill chains and support rapid upgrades to ensure ongoing combat superiority over any adversary,” said Rear Admiral Seiko Okano, Program Executive Officer.
“The Forge represents a mindset of delivering enhanced software quality and speed via ruthless automation and continuous collaboration with Certification, Safety, Authorization, and Training communities, throughout the development process,” said Rick Jandrain, acquisition manager for the Aegis Program Office, which has spearheaded the IWS digital transformation. “The Forge embodies the approach of ‘The Future is Now’ by valuing Prototyping over Planning, and promotes an environment of radical transparency and continuous improvement in all our activities.”
The Forge team is composed of personnel from PEO IWS, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Lockheed Martin, the Mitre Corporation, and other support contractors and organizations.
“We know that our current process for developing and delivering capability needs to be more nimble, that we need to make better use of commercial software tools and technology, and that we need to increase the level of war fighter involvement throughout our software development process.” said Jandrain. “Building out the Forge is going to yield better buying power. By expanding the number of ships we can reach with a each software delivery, we will be able to come back to each of those ships on an accelerated cadence with new capabilities as well as improvements based on sailor feedback.”
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