Open Question: How to Run Ship Subsystems

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If ground vehicles can run subsystems from flat-screen crew stations, why can’t ships?

Angus Batey, one of AvWeek’s star freelancers, zeroed in a discussion of naval wonks at the Defence Systems and Equipment International conference in London Sept. 10.

Batey reports that the UK is working to increase interoperability on the Type 26 Global Combat Ship due to begin service in 2021, says Brian Johnson, UK business development manager for BAE Systems Naval Ships. "What we'd be hoping to do is make the system much more open to an open architecture."

blog post photo
Credit: BAE

It will be difficult to create a system that can remain interoperable over decades, Johnson says, referring to the expected service life of the Type 26. "But we've got that ambition now, and certainly the [Ministry of Defence] have charged us with having that ambition," he adds.

The challenge is how to field the technology quickly, agrees Sir Brian Burridge, vice president of strategic marketing at Finmeccanica UK, and a former RAF Nimrod pilot and commander of the UK contingent during the 2003 Iraq War.

"A ship is much more difficult because the incremental capability is very large. In other words, you've got a huge amount of technology in a small number of platforms,” Burridge says. “But I'm convinced, in an epoch or two's time that is absolutely the way the maritime domain will be."

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