Competitive Advantage Pathfinders
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE PATHFINDERS: OVERVIEW
Established by the Deputy Secretary of Defense in February 2022, the Competitive Advantage Pathfinders (CAPs) initiative aims to demonstrate challenges and solutions to barriers in capability fielding by illuminating disconnects among the legs of the "3-Legged Stool."
To date, two CAPs “sprints” are underway consisting of 13 total pathfinders. In its first year, Sprint I (including six pathfinders) has demonstrated a number of early successes in both accelerating capability delivery and identifying scalable reforms.
Sprint II (containing seven pathfinders) is already stimulating discussion on known and anticipated challenges for rapid capability delivery. At this phase, emphasis is being placed on institutionalizing the identified reforms to ensure pathfinder successes endure and scale to the broader Department of Defense.
- Accelerate and deliver producible and sustainable capability to the warfighter
- Identify examples of challenges in current “3-Legged Stool” system
- Inform future reforms across the defense ecosystem
The Department of Defense is teaming up with Defense Acquisition University (DAU) to develop educational resources and courses that increase awareness and utilization of the many tools and approaches that CAPs have illuminated.
Candidate Selection Criteria
How are programs chosen to be CAPs?
Pegasus - Soaring from Ships to the Air
Just as the winged-horse Pegasus was formed from the sea, tamed by Athena the Goddess of War, and loyally carried Zeus’s terrifying lightning bolts through the sky, the Navy and Air Force are developing a capability that can miniaturize the ship-based electronic attack module called Medusa, for use in helicopters and airplanes. Medusa provides vital situational awareness and electronic attack functions to degrade/deny adversary anti-access/area denial capabilities. Up until now, this capability has been too big for planes and helicopters to use in highly contested environments.
The new capability, aptly called Pegasus, compacts the ship-based system into a size, weight and power that is suitable for aviation platforms. When deployed, Pegasus will significantly reduce risk to ship and aircraft during critical missions such as Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Mine Warfare, Combat Search and Rescue, Expeditionary troop movement, Strike, Offensive, Counter Air, Defensive Counter Air, and Anti Surface Warfare.
Leveraging the Competitive Advantage Pathfinders (CAPs) approach, the time from funding availability through development completion is estimated to be 18 months – three years ahead of schedule. This pathfinder has shown that the wide array of DoD platforms with this antenna configuration are immediate candidates to benefit from this capability – delivering situational awareness and electronic attack functions at scale to benefit our Warfighters.
From Ship to Shore - A Cross-Service Electronic Warfare Study
Cross-service use of technologies shortens the development cycle and takes advantage of existing investments. When the Army started investigating improved Electronic Warfare (EW) technologies, they didn’t have to start at the design/development stage; rather, the Army entered at the demonstration stage by partnering with the Navy.
From ship to shore, Navy EW technology was leveraged for successful demonstration in Army scenarios with minimal hardware/software/firmware changes. Leaving the gray exterior behind and sporting a fresh coat of tan paint, modularity of the shipboard components enabled their nearly direct use on Army vehicles. The EW capability provides the ability to deny/degrade adversary sensors for both Navy and Army missions from the same set of equipment.
Facilitated by the Competitive Advantage Pathfinders (CAPS) approach, the Army can now take the demonstration results and use those to tailor the technology to their specific needs.
CAPs: Sharpening Our Technological Edge
"U.S. competitors increasingly hold at risk our defense ecosystem [. . .] The United States' technological edge has long been a foundation of our military advantage."
2022 National Defense Strategy
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