A command unit of the US Navy is seeking to explore the potential of blockchain to track aircraft parts

US Navy to explore the potential blockchain tracking aircraft parts

A command unit of the US Navy is seeking to explore the potential of blockchain to track aircraft parts.

In a statement, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) said it is looking into following parts throughout the parts life-cycle more efficiently and cost-effectively using the blockchain technology.

“Knowing the origin and history of flight-critical aircraft parts is a resource-consuming process that drives up the cost to operate military aircraft. The Navy hopes to change the way it tracks the lineage of parts,” NAVAIR said.

NAVAIR’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest has partnered with Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies (FRCSW), developers of the SIMBA chain, for this initiative. SIMBA chain is a product of an Army lead DARPA project for tracking secure messages using blockchain.

Under the cooperative research and development agreement, the Navy can access “cutting-edge chain code as well as innovative protocols that can quickly and securely recall large data sets.” Both parties hope to come up a conceptual framework for a blockchain supply system which provides visibility and security.

“When all of the nodes supporting a supply chain become connected, it increases the vulnerability so special consideration must be given to cyber-security. By bringing the experts together early in the development of possible architectures, the authorities will better understand the risk and reward of a connected distributed system,” NAVAIR said.

“Public blockchains start with zero trust and rely on computation power in the “proof of work” consensus methods. The Navy model will be a permissioned chain with a consensus mechanism requiring less computing power,” it said, noting their existing trusted network.

At present, NAVAIR, which provides material support for aircraft and airborne weapons systems for the US Navy, traces the parts using pen and paper on a Scheduled Removal Component Card and manually entered into a database once these parts are delivered to them.

“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,” George Blackwood, Logistics Management Specialist F/A-18A-E & EA-18G ISSC North Island Fleet Support Team, said.

“The Fleet Readiness Center is excited to be in the middle of this collaboration and well-positioned as a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility that currently manages relationships with much of the Naval Aviation Enterprise,” NAVAIR stated.

In June, the US Navy’s innovation unit unveiled its plans to test blockchain’s potential to bolster the security of its manufacturing systems. It would be done by applying the technology to its processes known as 3-D printing to “securely share data throughout the manufacturing process” as it forms “critical” equipment for deployed forces.

“This summer the [Naval Innovation Advisory Council] will conduct a series of experiments (including a proof of concept) using blockchain technology to both securely share data between Additive Manufacturing sites, as well as help secure the digital thread of design and production,” Lieutenant commander Jon McCarter said in a blog post at that time.

Discovering new avenues to exchange details between building sites “will form the foundation for future advanced manufacturing initiatives,” he added.

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