US Navy Explores Blockchain to Enhance Tracking of Aviation Parts

The U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) is currently exploring the blockchain technology for tracking aviation parts throughout its lifecycle, according to its press release.

For NAVAIR, changing the way it currently tracks the lineage of parts is a critical step into reducing the high costs it takes to operate a military aircraft. The current process involves writing down details of the parts on a Scheduled Removal Component Card—used for recording aviation parts information— before manually entering it into a database.

The Navy has partnered with Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (ITAMCO) under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, NAVAIR hopes to get “access to cutting-edge chain code” as well as innovative protocols that can “recall large data sets” swiftly and securely.

ITAMCO developed SIMBA Chain, a blockchain as a service platform which allows for tracking secure messages using blockchain for the United States military.

According to the press release, ITAMCO will help the Navy understand how to leverage the distributed ledger for its operations and in return, the startup will get to understand how the Navy operates so it can create a “conceptual architecture” for what a “connected and visible supply chain” could look like when fully developed.

Developing such a platform for the NAVY will not be easy, and one of the hurdles that have to be scaled through is “information assurance and accreditation” for a distributed information system which will depart from the current centrally controlled database architecture. There is also the issue of cyber-security, as the connection of all the nodes supporting the supply chain increases the vulnerability of the system. NAVAIR is bringing the experts in early to create a conceptual architecture, as it hopes to understand the risks and reward that comes with a connected distributed system.

Navy’s Fleet Support Team believes the blockchain can help the Naval Air mission focus more on safety and at a lower cost than it currently can with the old system.

George Blackwood, Logistics Management Specialist F/A-18A-E & EA-18G ISSC North Island Fleet Support Team, was ecstatic about the partnership. He said:

“The Navy is very excited to work with ITAMCO on this cutting-edge technology to improve visibility, anti-tampering, traceability and data transparency in the NAVAIR supply chain.”

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