Since the onset of COVID-19, the government and industry have expedited the development process for new technologies and offerings to remain competitive in the evolving landscape. Innovation units across the nation have focused on artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics, to support data and networks.
During Potomac Officers Club’s 7th Annual Defense Research and Development (R&D) Summit, notable federal and industry leaders will meet to discuss the latest priorities across the R&D landscape.
The Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), service branches and other federal agencies have advanced research and defense (R&D) initiatives to continue modernization efforts, moving into the digital future.
Since the passing of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in Dec. 2020, federal agencies have received funding to continue R&D efforts. The NDAA has proposed a series of shifts in acquisition, funding allocations and R&D programs to modernize platforms and weapons.
Additionally, DoD awarded the National Spectrum Consortium a five-year prototype other transaction agreement (OTA), worth up to $2.5 billion, to steer R&D projects, modernize communications infrastructure, improve spectrum utilization, drive microelectronics and prepare the nation for the next generations of wireless technology.
The DoD recently announced the reorganization of its R&D priorities as it develops new roadmaps to advance future capabilities. Lewis said microelectronics will be the Pentagon’s top priority. Lewis noted DoD considers 5G communications as its second R&D priority followed by hypersonic weapons. He added that the department plans to procure large quantities of hypersonic weapons.
“We want to move away from trusted foundries and instead move towards technologies that allow us to operate and develop trusted components in zero-trust environments,” Lewis said of microelectronics. He added that Nicole Petta, assistant director for microelectronics, is working on a roadmap to meet this goal by 2023.
DoD’s research and engineering office is also advancing other modernization priorities, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, cyber, autonomy, directed energy, biotechnology, quantum science, directed energy, space as well as fully networked command, control and communications.
“We’re not interested in prototype programs that terminate at onesies and twosies,” he said of hypersonics. “You want weapons at scale. And by scale, we mean hundreds of systems. Eventually, down the line, you need thousands.”
In addition to the DoD, DARPA has spearheaded many new R&D projects that drive innovation and modernization across the federal government. In Oct. 2020, DARPA’s Innovation Office issued a broad agency announcement (BAA) seeking information technology research topics that are not covered under current I2O projects.
The office has organized its programs into four thrust areas, namely proficient artificial intelligence; advantage in cyber operations; confidence in the information domain; and resilient, adaptable and secure systems.
According to the BAA notice, I2O may also consider ideas outside those categories if interested parties propose novel software‐based platforms that have the potential to help U.S. and allied forces gain a “decisive information advantage.”
During Potomac Officers Club’s 7th Annual Defense Research and Development (R&D) Summit, Dr. Mark Lewis of the DoD and Dr. Victoria Coleman, director of DARPPA, will deliver keynote speeches to address the changes and challenges of modernization within the federal government, moving into 2021.
The Summit will also feature an expert panel, hosting Michael Stern of Rubrik and Col. George Dougherty of the U.S. Air Force. The panel will further the discussion of innovation and R&D programs, as well as how the industry can support critical missions across the government.