The Evolution of Real-Time Data-Sharing in Naval Warfare

The Evolution of Real-Time Data-Sharing in Naval Warfare

Published in Military Embedded Systems
Written by Dan Taylor

Naval warfare demands seamless, real-time data sharing across multiple platforms, from aircraft to surface ships to submarines. As conflicts become increasingly complex and fast-paced, the key to winning lies in the ability to communicate critical data in real time.

The technical complexities and security implications of data-sharing of sensitive or critical data across multiple military platforms – especially in naval warfare – can make securing this data an unsurmountable task. However, emerging technologies hold great potential to transform the future naval battlefield.

Shipboard electronics encompass a wide range of technologies designed to enhance various operational aspects of naval vessels. These systems can be broadly categorized into a few key areas: communication, navigation, warfare, and sensor systems.

In an era of multidomain operations, the ability to quickly and accurately exchange data in real time across these diverse systems is not just a technical requirement – it’s a tactical imperative. Real-time data exchange enhances several key facets of naval operations:


The issue of real-time data-sharing for naval applications is further exacerbated by the “extremely rapid increase in the amount of information produced by manned and unmanned platforms,” says Steven Horsburgh, director of product management in the Tactical Communications Group at Curtiss-Wright (Tewskbury, Massachusetts). These high data volumes demand significant processing power and efficient data pipelines to enable real-time decision-making.

Another critical challenge is the compatibility between various tactical data links (TDLs): “There are a variety of incompatible TDL technologies that have been developed in the past 30 years,” Horsburgh says.

Different aircraft and ships may have distinct TDL capabilities depending on when they were deployed or retrofitted. This variety makes real-time data exchange extremely cumbersome as it often necessitates resorting to “the lowest common denominator or alternate means of communications, such as voice,” Horsburgh adds.

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