Smart ‘Blockchain Battleships’ Are Right Around the Corner

    Salvatore Babones

    Security, North America

    USS Wisconsin (BB-64) Firing a broadside to port with her 16/50 and 5/38 guns

    Blockchain database technologies will power tomorrow’s internet of things—and that could include the Navy’s onboard weapons systems.

    Bitcoin’s meteoric rise in 2017 made “blockchain” a household word. But Bitcoin is only one outlet for the application of the basic database architecture called blockchain. A much more important application just over the horizon is the internet of things (IoT). And the most deadly IoTs of all could be the Navy’s next generation of surface-combat ships.

    How could a database technology run a battleship?

    A typical U.S. surface combatant like an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer combines powerful radar systems with ninety or more missile launch cells (each one capable of launching one of a dozen different missile types), two independent Phalanx close-defense systems, and six torpedo launchers, not to mention a five-inch gun, several machine guns, and a host of other weapon systems.

    The challenge is to make all these combat systems work together without blowing up the ship. America’s opponents have often fielded bigger, badder weapons than the United States, but the secret to naval success is systems integration. As the British proved at Jutland in 1916, superior fire control trumps superior firepower.

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