Interview with Mr Eric Lednicky, Branch Head,
Undersea Warfare Assessments (OPNAV N81W5),
U.S. Navy | Speaker at Underwater Defence & Security 2019
Q: What programmes /exercises / units are you currently responsible for?
A: OPNAV N81 Assessment Division integrates warfighting capability, capacity and wholeness assessments to inform budget development decisions in support of the the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations’ function of establishing policies, providing sufficient resources, and ensuring combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring global aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas. As such, my branch is responsible for analyzing and assessing the totality of programs, processes and systems impacting the Undersea Warfare (USW) spectrum – Theater and Strike Group Anti-Submarine Warfare, Offensive Mining, Seabed Warfare and Strategic Deterrence.
Q: Which countries/organisations do you work with most frequently?
A: While primarily focused on the delivery of U.S. USW capability, we work in concert with all resourcing (e.g., budgeting), acquisition (e.g., procurement), production, science and technology, research and development, and Fleet commands within the U.S. Navy hierarchy. This includes the CNO staff, the Office of Naval Research, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Naval Air Warfare Command (NAVAIR), Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and all Fleet USW organizations. Internationally, we mostly work with and through the U.S. Navy International Programs Office (NIPO) on issues supporting international interoperability, capability development, and technology security to support the defense requirements of our friends, allies, and coalition partners.
Q: Which area of Underwater Defence and Security do you specialise in?
A: We specialize in Undersea Warfare, to include specifically Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Mine Warfare (MIW), Seabed and Subsea Warfare (SSW) and Strategic Deterrence. This includes capability delivered from submarines, ships, aircraft, and unmanned systems.
Q: Which companies assist the work that you do?
A: While the entire defense industrial complex supports naval capability development, our assessment work is primarily assisted by analytic organizations such as MITRE, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU:APL), Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory (PSU/ARL), the Naval Underwater Warfare Center (NUWC), and countless private sector partners.
Q: What plans in terms of acquisition/projects do you have over the next year/2 years?
A: While direct acquisition is not applicable for us, we have continual project work assessing the impact of new systems and/or new operational concepts and their impact on the traditional methods of operating in the undersea domain. For example, we are assessing the impact that the resurgence of medium/long-range maritime patrol aircraft is having on the ability to monitor and understand traffic patterns on and in the global maritime commons. Additionally, with the introduction of more and more platforms, both manned and unmanned, we are assessing the impact on traditional communication, command and control techniques across the undersea environment.
Q: What are the trends and opportunities for you and / or the sector currently?
A: The challenges and resulting opportunities within the Undersea Domain are tremendous right now. In many ways this remains an unexplored and therefore uncontrolled area for security operations, particularly with the proliferation of technology to nation-states and trans-national organizations not historically rooted in the underwater commons. This “next frontier” comes with a great deal of jockeying for position, power, and influence amongst the international community. Exploitation of undersea advantages and resources, to include new technologies like unmanned vessels and sensors, promise to break this domain wide open. Consider the expansion of global commerce to areas previously inaccessible (e.g., the Arctic, deep-water oil and gas fields, etc.), and we observe the need for security becomes all the more necessary. This expansion of territory to cover, combined with the rapid increase in available technology and systemic decrease in defense budgets, will stress international defense organizations to provide the required security.
Q: Why is now a good time for Underwater Defence & Security and what do you expect to gain from your participation?
A: For all the above reasons, international military organizations (the. U.S. Navy included) will need to strengthen their partnerships and cooperative engagements with friends, allies, and coalition partners across the globe. This cannot be solely a governmental approach – cooperation with industry partners to ensure that underwater platforms and systems are developed and produced reliably, timely, and affordably is a must! International militaries suffer from under-resourcing, so synergy will be required across the entire defense/industrial complex. It is through these defense industry relationships that innovation is spawned, developed and sustained to counter the growing security challenges.
Eric Lednicky at Underwater Defence & Security 2019
Eric Lednicky will present on how the US Navy perceives future technology in the Underwater Domain on the main conference day one on Wednesday 6th March 2019. Download the full agenda.
- Understanding the issues of undersea warfare
- Current developments in USW & ASW in the US Navy
- Perception of the future – The way ahead for the US Navy
Participation at the Underwater Defence & Security Conference & Exhibition sells out every year in advance of the event. In order to ensure there is space for your delegation, we encourage you to register as soon as possible.