AUSA NEWS: Pentagon R&E Chief Lays Out Plans for Technology Experimentation Campaign

By Jon Harper

Jon Harper photo

The U.S. military is planning to conduct an expansive campaign of “rapid joint experimentation” in fiscal year 2023 and beyond and has already identified more than 30 projects that could be part of the effort, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu said Oct. 12.

The R&E office has been working closely with the services, Joint Staff and combatant commands to identify capability gaps and technologies that could potentially fill them.

Shyu’s office has received more than 200 white papers addressing a wide variety of areas of interest. Examples include early indication and warning and enhanced communications. After reviewing the proposals, the R&E team made a recommendation to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks to fund 32 projects that are expected to have the greatest payoff.

“What we are doing in the campaign of rapid joint experimentation is we’ve actually mapped the joint warfighting capability gaps into a set of experiments, and what we plan to do is conduct experiments in FY ‘23 so we can quantify the effectiveness of the prototypes and enable rapid transition into operations,” she told reporters at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm because the capability gaps that we’re closing are joint capability gaps,” she added. “Multiple services have the same capability gap.”

The R&E office is working closely with the combatant commands to flesh out the details of how the experiments will be conducted.

After the experiments in 2023 conclude, operators will evaluate whether a particular product would have utility for warfighters. If so, the Pentagon could move toward rapid fielding, Shyu said.

Both government and industry could be asked to bring their equipment to the events, she said.

Beyond 2023, the Pentagon plans to continue the rapid joint experimentation campaign on an annual basis.

However, the amount of funding available will play a major role in shaping how expansive the campaign will be, she noted.

“It’s budget constrained, depending on how much money we get,” she said. “We’ve mapped this whole thing out. It’s already been briefed, so we’re just looking for the money to get going.”

In the future, Shyu said her office could conduct two technology “sprints” per year if enough funding is provided.

She declined to say how much funding she has requested for the experimentation campaign.

“But I can tell you that the amount of money we’re looking for relative to the value it’s going to bring — it’s pretty small and very impactful,” she said.

Topics: Research and Development

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