Case Studies

Ghost Fleet Overlord


The Ghost Fleet Overlord program was designed to accelerate the acquisition and adoption of Unmanned Surface Vehicles, USVs, for the US Navy. The program’s intention is to test USVs in an operational context and see how they augment the capabilities of manned vessels. This pairing of autonomous and manned warfighting supports a joint-capability, cross-domain vision for future operations. Overlord has allowed advanced prototyping and payload testing to be stress-tested through operational vignettes and demonstrate capabilities that USVs could provide. These efforts align with the Navy’s decision to field smaller, more distributed vessels that could individually perform a multitude of tasks and reconfigure as needed. Ventus personnel have served key roles in this effort since its inception. VES provides technical, operational, and program management expertise to repurpose/enhance existing programs of record, scale existing U.S. Government concepts for DoD missions, and accelerate maturing government/commercial technology.


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DARPA’S The Ocean of Things

A Department of Defense agency is developing a new way of looking at remote oceanographic sensing incorporating innovative new technologies, including Internet of Things devices, Edge Processing, and Cloud Computing, while leveraging Machine Learning techniques to derive new insights. Ventus personnel facilitate all facets of this program, coordinating contracted hardware development efforts with government acceptance testing, and assisting in design of data products in the cloud to satisfy commercial, academic, and government needs. Additionally, VES personnel assisted in designing a Data as a Service model compatible with Government contracting methods to further develop the emerging market for remote maritime sensing capabilities. These efforts have resulted in publication of academic papers, improvement in ocean modeling for the oceanographic community at large, and will improve overall maritime situational awareness for the Department of Defense.

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Prompt Sea Strike

An OSD office developed a program to enable prompt strike capability within denied environments. Ventus personnel were involved from the program’s inception. From developing requirements to reviewing proposals, monitoring development to evaluation of testing and deliveries, VES was intricately involved in all technical and managerial aspects of the program. As the program matured, VES personnel were involved in generating multiple additional programs, some of which have become national capabilities or are now under development. VES personnel provided the critical leadership necessary to ensure the many successes of the program and its transition to the services.

Revolutionary Undersea Weapon Development

The Navy was seeking ideas to revolutionize the concept of what an undersea weapon could do. Working directly and intimately with the government sponsor, Ventus personnel were the key technical, operational, and programmatic advisors to research a radical idea, proposed by a University Affiliated Research Center, that would significantly expand the range and capabilities compared to current undersea weapons. The VES team was critical in putting together a case to approve the $300M project. VES team members then served as the primary technical and operational advisors to the government, managing programmatic, financial, and technical details to ensure the multi-year program successfully transitioned to the Navy as one of the most exciting and dynamic weapon programs the Navy has ever pursued.

DARPA’s ACE Program

Ventus personnel played an integral role in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) AlphaDogfight trials in 2020, which culminated in a widely covered three-day competition designed to demonstrate advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms capable of performing simulated, within-visual-range air combat maneuvering – commonly known as a dogfight. Eight participating companies – ranging from major defense contractors to a four-person firm – spent less than a year developing and teaching their AI agents how to fly and excel in simulated aerial combat. The final event concluded with the top AI agent competing in a series of simulated dogfights against an experienced Air Force F-16 pilot in a flight simulator – winning 5-0 through aggressive and precise maneuvers the human pilot couldn’t outmatch. The trials were designed to energize and expand a base of AI developers for DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program. ACE seeks to automate air-to-air combat and build human trust in AI as a step toward improved human-machine teaming. VES personnel are supporting the larger ACE program, which recently entered Phase 2 of a multi-year effort that will conclude with live flight testing of air combat autonomy and real-time assessment of pilot trust in AI.

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DARPA’S Mosaic Warfare

The idea of Mosaic Warfare is to maintain control of operational tempo by limiting the enemy to reacting to situations created via the rapid decomposition and re-composition of forces and equipment on the modern battlefield. The concept is enabled by unmanned and autonomous technology enhancing all warfighting functions, but especially intelligence, C2 and fires. Mosaic Warfare dramatically changes the pace of employment, reach, and overall impact of our collective combat systems as we create more effective kill chains and exploit the electromagnetic spectrum to our advantage, ultimately forcing the enemy to react to dilemmas vice maintaining control. Ventus assisted the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as they developed PROTEUS, a technology designed to help Marines understand Mosaic Warfare and its many benefits and to address the challenge of cognitive overload now faced by tactical commanders due to their expanded force capability. Our SME served as a key intermediary between technology developers and Marine users helping system engineers understand Marine Corps doctrine and warfighting concepts, while helping Marines understand system capabilities so they could maximize utility during planning and execution. PROTEUS has since transitioned to the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab and is being used by the Marine Corps to analyze future force structure and validate proposed warfighting concepts.

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Commercial Defense Analysis Support

A Fortune 500 defense firm was looking to improve their potential to innovate. With our partner, Ventus personnel examined specific areas including engineering process improvement and culture that could be improved to drive higher levels of innovation and affordability. VES personnel identified competitive threats in some key areas and identified how those competitors are solving client pain points at reduced cost. As a result of the analysis, the firm moved forward with a follow on focused effort to improve processes and drive innovation.

Rapid Acquisition

A Department of Defense service determined a new weapon system was needed to meet a near term emerging threat. After assessing alternatives, the service selected the newly approved Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) as the appropriate process to rapidly develop and field the capability to address the emerging threat. Ventus assisted the government with crafting and overseeing the execution of the acquisition strategy for this weapon system, which was one of the very first MTA projects for this service. VES provided critical support to a very lean government program team in all aspects of this project, from requirements development, through day-to-day execution oversight, all the way through design and oversight of a test strategy and crafting an initial production schedule. VES also directly managed the important interactions with the service’s Weapon System Safety Board to ensure all safety attributes were addressed and adjudicated to support the operational test schedule. VES support was instrumental to the service’s success with this early MTA project.

Surface Combatant Development

Ventus has been supporting the NAVSEA Frigate Program Office (PMS 515) since the program was established in 2015 and provides expertise across a broad portfolio of ship design and support activities. The Ventus team facilitated development of the ship’s capability requirements, warfare and C4I systems selection, shipbuilding specifications development, and performance analysis. The team lead efforts to assess manpower and training requirements, as well as training facility infrastructure and military construction planning. The Ventus team also facilitated development of innovative and cost-effective plans to complete early integration testing, construction stage testing and post-delivery developmental and operational testing plans. These efforts helped the Frigate Program Office to accelerate the acquisition schedule of the Frigate, advancing ship design and procurement by four to six years, equating to more than $500 million in cost avoidance. This resulted in the early award of a multibillion-dollar, open competition, Detail Design and Construction contract, awarded more than four months ahead of schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Navy leadership cited this team as a positive example of accelerated acquisition that is changing how the Navy designs and procures ships. The Program Office was recognized with the 2020 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award.


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David Packard Award Citation

Client Overview: Strategic Capabilities Office

Ventus has been proud to work with it’s partner Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI) on the Strategic Capabilities Office, supporting the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in order to rapidly develop a portfolio of capabilities to counter near-peer adversaries and improve the U.S. posture in engaging future threats. The MTSI/ Ventus team was selected by senior OUSD leadership to provide highly specialized acquisition, engineering, and RDT&E support for the planning and analysis of capabilities to counter current and emerging threats. Technical requirements include conceptualizing, initiating, and overseeing RDT&E capability studies to overcome the current and anticipated Anti-Access Area-Denial (A2AD) environment.

Cyber Operations Planning Tool

The Ventus team led the way in development, expansion, and transition of a Joint Cyber command and control, data aggregation and mission visualization tool. Ventus cyber experts led rapid spiral development of a DARPA prototype to adopted project which provides an orchestration, automation, and response platform supporting Cyber Operations. As the project progressed it was briefed to the most senior levels of the government, expanded to meet cyber commanders’ and operators’ requirements, and adopted as the primary national cyber command and control, and operations planning tool. Additionally, Ventus cyber experts expanded the project’s use into a Joint All-Domain Command and Control system that enables military commanders, planners, analysts, and operators to collaborate, understand, plan, and manage multi-domain operations in real-time at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels in a single-pane-of-glass solution. The project has successfully transitioned, remains in nimble spiral development, and is used daily. It provides a cyber mission execution framework that enables military commanders, planners, and operators to collaborate, understand, plan, and manage cyber operations in real-time against large-scale and dynamic network environments.

US Coast Guard Cyber Case Study

Ventus developed a cyber investment strategy for the US Coast Guard. USCG faced significant cyber activity and an uncertain future. Ventus analyzed trends and uncertainties across a significant spectrum of USCG Capabilities and developed alternative scenarios. Ventus examined a number of important capabilities and investment options under consideration by the USCG and identified others integral to future readiness as well. Working closely with USCG leadership, Ventus developed an option set that was resilient in the face of unknowns and provided significantly improved capabilities. Working with the USCG’s strategy process (Evergreen), the Commandant of the Coast Guard sent out Ventus’s final product to the senior leadership of the Coast Guard including all flag officers and senior executives (SES) – the first time an Evergreen strategy product had been so disseminated in the 20+ year history of the group.