R&D DETAILS IN THE HOUSE DEFENSE BILL
The fiscal 2019 House Defense Authorization bill is headed soon to the floor, CQ reports. The Senate Armed Services Committee aims to produce its version in two or three days of closed sessions starting Wednesday. Meanwhile, the House Armed Service's Committee's report on the bill offers insights on the panel's R&D enthusiasms and concerns:
Future Vertical Lift technology "will enable rotorcraft aviation to retain overmatch through significant capability improvements in reach, speed, protection, and lethality," the House panel says, urging the Pentagon to accelerate the program.
Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers (HEROES), a joint industry-academia R&D initiative, "accelerates research and innovation through integration of intellectual assets and research facilities" in such areas as "advanced ballistic polymers for body armor, fibers to make uniforms more fire resistant, and lightweight structures for advanced shelters."
The Robotarium, an Office of Naval Research-sponsored lab at Georgia Tech, exemplifies "grant programs that enhance academia’s ability to conduct complex experiments with autonomous systems." It will be "increasingly important for ONR to continue to fund initiatives that prepare future engineers to conduct cutting edge research in this discipline, especially with different classes of autonomous systems including unmanned underwater vehicles, unmanned surface vehicles, and unmanned aerial vehicles operating simultaneously across multiple domains."
The Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) "ensures that the next generation of scientists and engineers are trained with cutting-edge capabilities." Understanding that there is an "additional opportunity for the Navy to facilitate research in an area of interest," the panel urges that DURIP get $10 million more.
Academia "is well-suited to partner with the Air Force on modeling, design, and comparative analysis" of unmanned air platforms "through the use of Educational Partnership Agreements, which are mutually beneficial agreements that may also enhance the Air Force’s effort to recruit a diverse and educated workforce."
Anti-tampering and cybersecurity research, which helps safeguard weapon systems from theft, reverse engineering, and exploitation, is an area of "highly focused efforts" by the Air Force. The committee "encourages the Department to leverage talent from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that have a proven track record of excellence in this particular field."
Economically efficient "reusable hypersonic systems" hold the promise of extending national defense capabilities "beyond the limits of expendable systems. Additional reusable hypersonic vehicle structure development and thermal protection system development is necessary to enable rapid global response to threats, and extend the survivability of platforms in highly contested environments."
Dual-use ceramic capabilities and production technologies have captured lawmakers' interest, particularly "recent advancements in smelting (that) have significant overlap with ceramic production methods and could lower ceramic production costs." These have "demonstrated versatility in critical military applications, including composite armor for soldier and vehicle protection, and for use in advanced hypersonic vehicle development."
Advances in synthetic biology, genomics, biotechnology, and related novel technologies "may enhance human performance and improve traditional approaches to healthcare. This includes enhancing human ability to perform through stressful and resource-limited environments, improving decision making, minimizing the time between disease identification and treatment, and augmenting human immune systems to defeat a variety of diseases, rather than depending on specific vaccines and therapeutics."
The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) "supports the identification, development, and demonstration of game-changing technologies" and "leverages partnerships with academic institutions, science and technology communities, and private industries." The committee "supports the objective of DIUx to maintain U.S. technological superiority across the range of military operations" but says DIUx "should also increase efforts to support technological superiority at Department installations by addressing critical technological needs."
The committee wants to learn more about Pentagon plans regarding quantum sciences and their use "for military applications and other purposes."
CURBING RESEARCH TIES WITH ADVERSARIES: A report in Defense One explains the push by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and others on Armed Services to curb research ties with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. "For years, experts have been sounding the alarm about foreign talent recruitment programs and their role in facilitating technology transfer to peer competitors,” Defense One quotes Gallagher as saying. He cited the Chinese Thousand Talents program, which "seeks to attract academics to come to China and participate in cutting-edge research." Meanwhile, an amendment that may be offered from the floor could require institutions to register as foreign agents if they work
with nations against which the United States has an arms embargo. "Additionally, academic institutions would be required to disclose to the Secretary of Education if/when they enter into a contract with a foreign source."