Congresswoman Elaine Luria Passes Amendment to FY21 NDAA to Require Secretary of the Navy to Report the Interoperability Challenges Among Combatant Ships

July 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously passed Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that will require the Secretary of the Navy to report to Congress on interoperability challenges among combatant ships and between AEGIS combatants and 5th Generation tactical aircraft.

“As the Navy invests in new technologies and upgrades their existing systems, we must ensure that they can easily and effectively integrate into our existing networks,” said Congresswoman Luria. “These challenges have grown over time, and I am pleased the Secretary of the Navy must now address this pressing issue.”

Carrier strike groups and amphibious readiness groups draw their strength from the capabilities of all the assigned ships and aircraft. The Navy has over 200 ships and submarines that need to work in tactical data networks to quickly and unambiguously share sensor and weapon information so time critical decisions can be made. With a variety of sensors and computer hardware even within ships of the same class, the Navy has noted tens of thousands of interoperability problems that cause different ships and aircraft to be unable to effectively work together.

The Navy has commissioned numerous studies about these challenges, has attempted a variety of initiatives to address these interoperability problems such as the Fire Control Loop Improvement Program and Accelerated Mid-Term Interoperability Improvement Project, and has created and assigned Strike Force Interoperability Officers to mitigate the problem, yet year after year, the quantity of issues grows and the complexity increases. Sailors cannot overcome the current problems while standing watch. The navy needs to better engineer the combat systems and correct these interoperability problems.

Additionally, the Navy’s newest tactical fighter, the F-35 brings a new generation of sensor capability; however, much of this information cannot be shared with the other units in the strike group. The challenges are both policy-driven and technology limitations.

The Navy must accurately report these gaps and enable Congress to help find solutions.

Click here for the amendment text.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.