NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — This week, U.S. Navy leadership and some of the world’s largest defense contractors flocked to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center south of the nation’s capital for the 2024 Sea-Air-Space defense conference.

Hosted by the Navy League, it’s the service’s largest annual trade show. Reporters with C4ISRNET, Defense News, and Military Times were on the ground, reporting on the latest remarks and industry insights.

From an eclipse that yanked attendees to the waterfront to a surprise appearance by Lance Cpl. Chesty XVI, here’s what you may have missed:

  • As the Navy, Coast Guard and Maritime Administration press shipbuilders to increase production, the services are also considering other ideas to get ships in the water faster. What that means for the future.
  • Creating a new robotics warfare specialist rating signified a critical step in achieving a “truly hybrid” fleet, according to the Navy’s top civilian. Learn more.
  • Northrop Grumman said it finished building its prototype of the Manta Ray underwater drone, devised for assignments that demand long hours and extended ranges while minimizing human involvement. Interested?
  • The Marine Corps plans to deploy its powerful new heavy-lift helicopter for the first time in 2026 — the year after it previously had anticipated. All the details here.
  • The Navy recently wrapped a review of its shipbuilding programs. It found several shortfalls, including schedule slips attributed to a lack of workers and a brittle supply chain. For both issues, 3D printing could be the answer. How so?
  • Shield AI in the next year plans to have its Hivemind digital pilot working aboard three additional types of aircraft, bringing the total to nine. Click me!
  • A space-focused program spreading hundreds of small satellites in low orbit aims to bring clearer communications and faster data transfer to military units in the field. Why you should care.

The next Sea-Air-Space conference is scheduled for April 2025.

Colin Demarest was a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covered military networks, cyber and IT. Colin had previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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