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US Navy awards $1.5M jet fighter contract to blockchain project

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SIMBA Chain, a cloud-based smart contract platform, has been tasked with revamping the supply chain of the United States military after it received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Office of Navy Research.

The project will be responsible for developing a blockchain-based solution to enable demand sensing for critical military weaponry parts. Demand sensing is a forecasting technique used in supply chain logistics that processes information in real-time to accurately predict demand ahead of time.

Work will reportedly focus on constructing a use case centered on the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet — a combat jet which had its first variant introduced in the 1980s, and which still forms the backbone of the U.S Navy today.

SIMBA Chain commenced work on Jan. 6 at a naval air station in Jacksonville, Florida, where it will work in tandem with the Naval Enterprise Sustainment Technology Team (NESTT).

Project lead for NESTT, Steve McKee, said the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was allocated $30 million in 2020 to develop technological innovations that improve military readiness:

“In 2020, the Department of the Navy’s SBIR Program allocated over $30 million to help advance innovations to improve readiness. This blockchain project with SIMBA Chain exemplifies the role of technology in revitalizing not just our military facilities, but our systems as well. Pilot projects like this one with the Fleet Readiness Center in Jacksonville drive both innovation, and ultimately positive outcomes,”

SIMBA Chain CEO Joel Neidig said blockchain was up to the task of forming the backbone of an effective military supply chain, thanks to the irreversibility of transactions, its tamper-proof nature and its ability to be accurately audited.

“Blockchain is well suited to solve complex supply chain pain points as it enables a decentralized mechanism for the recording of non-repudiable transactions, making data both immutable and auditable, and lastly, tamper proof once written,” said Neidig.

SIMBA Chain was developed by Indiana Technology and Manufacturing Companies and the University of Notre Dame in 2017, as a result of a research grant awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Since then, the project has delivered multiple contracts for DARPA, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense.

In October 2020, SIMBA Chain won first prize in a war games scenario hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense. SIMBA took home $100,000 for its implementation of a secure, blockchain-based communications network, beating out competitors from Boeing in the process.