Unmanned maritime systems (UMS) are poised to become a leading-edge capability for the Navy in potentially contested environments in the Western Pacific. As this unfolds, China will likely respond by aggressively introducing new methods and solutions to blunt UMS effectiveness. The Navy will then need to introduce even more advanced sensors, analytics, and other technologies—which the Chinese in turn will seek to counter as quickly as they can.
The result may be a supercharged, ongoing technology race between the Navy’s unmanned capabilities and China’s countermeasures. If the Navy is to win that race, it is crucial that new capabilities be developed and fielded with digital engineering—but not the way digital engineering for the Navy is commonly practiced today. A new approach is needed, one that takes digital engineering out of the mostly exclusive realm of original equipment manufacturers (OEM), and makes it more open to the Navy, and to a wider range of industry and other partners.