5G considered a “great catalyst” for the US Navy

WASHINGTON — The US Navy’s director of digital innovation this week hailed 5G as a “great enabler” for future operations as the service experiments with the technology and focuses on greater connectivity through Project Overmatch.

Fifth-generation wireless equipment is being considered for a range of applications, Michael Galbraith suggested April 19, from dockside and shipboard links to smart warehouses and other logistical feats.

“Think of a ship, think of a group of carriers — we have to work quietly, deep, we can’t use SATCOM,” Galbraith told the Cloudera Government Forum. “I still need to communicate from the first deck to the third deck, I still need to communicate from this carrier to the destroyer, and 5G and other millimeter wave technologies allow that to happen.”

Exactly how 5G, the so-called Internet of Things, and data collection interact with major Navy networks is a “matter we’re actively working on,” Galbraith said. “You hear about the Overmatch project, communication as a service. It is part of this work that the team of the group of “Rear Admiral Doug Small” does. It is of vital importance.

Project Overmatch is the Navy’s covert contribution to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, a larger Pentagon effort to better connect sensors and shooters and dissolve communication barriers between services. Small is the head of the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, a key player in JADC2.

In early April, Small told C4ISRNET that his team was “working across system controls, warfare centers, services, and with industry to provide the architecture, or framework, for how the various components are put together, including networks, infrastructure, data architecture, tools and analytics to improve our decision-making advantage.

“Ultimately,” Small said at the time, “it will help us deliver synchronized effects near and far across the board, ensuring a deadlier, better-connected fleet now and far into the future.”

Fifth-generation wireless technology promises faster speeds, lower latency, and other improvements over its predecessors. On its own, 5G is “more, better, faster,” Galbraith said. But when synced with other abilities, he added, the potential really shines.

“We in the navy, you know, we’ve been working on the cutting edge, we’ve been working on the cutting edge since the 1700s,” he said. “In this area of ​​information, there are other network capabilities, and 5G is, again, a great enabler.”

The Department of Defense has selected a dozen military installations as testbeds for 5G, including sites in California, Georgia and Virginia. This month, the department unveiled a multimillion-dollar challenge to accelerate the growth and adoption of a fifth-generation open ecosystem.

AT&T Inc. claimed initial success this year in setting up a 5G network experiment that could realize smart warehouses for the Navy, Defense News reported. The service believes that smart warehouses could increase the efficiency and loyalty of its logistics.

“When we started experimenting and piloting 5G,” Galbraith said Tuesday, “we looked at what our priorities were.”

The Department of Defense received nearly $338 million for 5G and microelectronics in fiscal year 2022. It requested $250 million for fiscal year 2023, according to budget documents.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers networking and computing. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely nuclear weapons development and Cold War cleanup — for a South Carolina daily.

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