Project Overmatch ahead of schedule, Navy says

Project Overmatch delivery continues to be ahead of schedule. “As far as the exact numbers – it’s more than strike groups," said Rear Adm. Douglas Small.

The Navy’s secret initiative to digitally connect its fleet known as Project Overmatch is ahead of the schedule that is laid out in the Navy’s 2022 Navigation Plan, according to the service.

The details of the project and the capabilities it will provide to sailors have been shrouded in secrecy since its inception, but at least three carrier strike groups and numbered fleets already have the capabilities Project Overmatch provides.

“As far as the exact numbers – I won’t talk to that, but it’s more than strike groups. It’s also at fleets and numbered fleets. Certainly afloat and ashore. We continue to be ahead [of schedule],” Rear Adm. Douglas Small, who leads the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, said during the Navy’s Sea Air Space conference on Monday.

Fielding software on existing hardware is the fastest way to move, Small said. So the service is laser-focused on software, whether it’s software-defined networking or software-based battle management aids.

“My biggest ask is just be software-centric. That has been our mantra to just focus on software,” Small said.

“We’re fielding a data fabric that connects across the force. We provide all of those things as a platform. What we need are the applications, not new computers—that just takes longer to install on ships and shore facilities. Focusing on software is our key. We have plenty of contract vehicles to get your software into the brains of sailors tomorrow.”

The Navy uses end-to-end DevSecOps, or the process of integrating security practices throughout the entire software development life cycle, which allows the service to update software “over the air” to ships at sea. The goal is to integrate updates in an agile manner instead of sending ships to the shipyard for upgrades.

“Because we’ve been able to stay agile, we’ve been able to take on new things as they come in and make sure that they get plugged into the architecture,” said Small.

“We have been focused on starting with what we have—bringing some fairly critical but mature technologies to build on what we have. And that’s how you get to fast track and speed. You’re not waiting for the next big thing—you’re delivering based on what you have.”

Small said they have “tremendous” flexibility to integrate new capabilities. “We’ve demonstrated that.”

“You can almost view Overmatch as a platform for getting those types of equipment integrated into, I’ll say, the Navy, but the Joint Force,” he added.

The service is hosting several industry days this year, some of those are conducted with the Air Force. Most industry days require some level of security clearance.

The service requested at least $192 million for Project Overmatch in 2024 and spent about $226 million in 2023. Overall, the Navy is looking to spend $716.7 million on the project over the period of five years.

Project Overmatch is how the Navy contributes to the department-wide initiative to connect all networks known as the Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control. The Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office recently delivered a minimum viable capability that is “up and running.” The office is currently working on expanding the data integration layer, a crucial step to delivering CJADC2.

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