The Navy is leveraging rapid acquisition authorities provided by Congress to push out new weapons faster.
The fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act had multiple provisions aimed at speeding procurement, Rear Adm. James Kilby, director of warfare integration at the office of the chief of naval operations, said during a panel discussion hosted by the Surface Navy Association. "After that language hit the streets, the OPNAV staff and the secretary produced instructions about how we would deal with accelerated acquisition."
Kilby was referring to OPNAV instructions provided in March 2017, which detailed the Navy's push to cut through bureaucratic red tape as it pursues new capabilities. The Navy established two different paths for high priority initiatives, including rapid prototyping, experimentation and demonstration (RPED) projects and the maritime accelerated capability office.
Section 804 of the 2016 NDAA allows for "mid-tier acquisition" to rapidly prototype technologies that complete fielding within five years of requirements approval. Under Section 806, the secretary of defense can waive certain regulations for technologies of high priority.
The accelerated acquisition process kicked off with "a lot of bumps and bruises," Cmdr. Todd Philips, of the Navy appropriations matters office, said during the panel.
"It has evolved from [the fiscal year 2017 presidential budget request], where we had a miserable rollout ... to where we are today," he said. "But I really do think we're at a much better place."
The 2017 directive stated that RPED projects would be geared towards capabilities that do not already have a materiel solution. The service would use prototyping and demonstration to determine an acquisition strategy. The maritime accelerated capability office would focus on capabilities that already have a potential solution.
The Navy updated the accelerated acquisition process in October 2018. Initiatives that are designated as "accelerated" are priorities for funding and have an opportunity to compete for rapid prototyping, experimentation and demonstration money, according to the document. Initiatives that qualify for this designation must have near-term warfighting urgency. The document also removed the maritime accelerated capability office. A board of directors would designate which initiatives should be prioritized.
Kilby noted there are millions of dollars in research and development not tied to a specific program of...