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Title: Warfare Systems Interoperability: A Critical Component to Achieving Mission Capability

Author: Richard Chierici Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division Warfare Systems

Problem Statement: A lack of enduring cross program engineering of clear strike group interoperability requirements, resourced system of systems engineering processes, and overarching organizational responsibilities degrade warfare and combat system interoperability and Fleet readiness. 

Strike force interoperability has posed a  long-standing and challenging problem to the acquisition community. Various in-place test and certification practices are intended to address the problem, each from their own unique perspective. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) 05 strike group (SG) interoperability test and certification processes assess new and updated warfare systems in a multi-ship environment for SG interoperability under the Naval Warfare Systems Certification Policy (NWSCP). Corresponding element and combat system certifications are requirements-based assessments that verify the element or combat system meets its system design requirements, both “inside the skin of the ship” and to external interfacing systems. Each process is intended to ensure new capabilities and systems work in their expected operational environment. Where the combat system and element processes are generally supported by clearly documented specifications and requirements, interoperability is often hindered by a lack of rigorously defined interoperability requirements needed to support the full spectrum of design, code, test and certification processes. Various policies have established the need for documented interoperability requirements, but programmatic execution against these policy requirements has been deficient, and policy expectations are not consistently enforced. Currently, Program of Record (POR) Information Support Plans (ISPs), Net-Ready Key Performance Parameters (NR-KPPs), and other interoperability requirements documentation [are written to act] independently. This approach impacts design, engineering, and development efforts, which leads to design gaps, implementation errors, and ineffective or incomplete test and certification processes, all of which contribute to the current state where many new or upgraded systems are found to be not interoperable, noncompliant with warfare system certification requirements, and contributing to degraded mission effectiveness. Most importantly, clear organizational authority at the mission and system of systems level is not defined to coordinate design implementations across the force or to resolve complex interoperability issues as they occur. This paper will describe the status of current SG interoperability test and certification efforts, why these efforts are integral to assessing the capabilities and limitations of the systems-of-systems, and how increased upfront attention to requirements can improve systems interoperability in the Fleet. A vision and way ahead for improved support to program managers and technical authorities is recommended.