FY19 Appropriations Bills: Department of Defense S&T
Under House and Senate spending proposals for fiscal year 2019, the Department of Defense’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation budget is set to continue its recent ascent, possibly to a new all-time high. Senate appropriators are recommending an 8 percent increase from $88.3 billion to $95.1 billion, while the House proposes a more modest 3 percent increase to $91.2 billion, roughly in line with the Trump administration’s budget request. The RDT&E budget stood at $72.3 billion in fiscal year 2017.
This rapid increase reflects Congress and DOD’s determination that the U.S. needs to invest heavily in cutting-edge military technologies to counter advances by nations such as China and Russia. The new funding is flowing predominantly to later-stage development and testing activities to help accelerate the transition of technologies into acquisition programs.
Within the RDT&E budget, funding for DOD’s early-stage Science and Technology accounts — Basic Research, Applied Research, and Advanced Technology Development — has also increased in recent years, though not so dramatically. Proposals for their future diverge. The House is looking to roll back their combined budgets by 3 percent, from $14.9 billion to $14.4 billion, which is still higher than the administration’s request of $13.7 billion. However, Senate appropriators are proposing a 4 percent increase to $15.4 billion, including an unusually marked increase for Basic Research.
The House Appropriations Committee approved its DOD spending bill on June 13, and the full House passed it on June 28 on a vote of 359 to 49. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its bill on June 28, and Senate leaders have discussed advancing it to the floor in combination with at least one other spending bill, possibly as soon as next week.
Detailed funding proposals for DOD and additional policy guidance can be found in the House and Senate Appropriations Committee reports accompanying their respective bills. A side-by-side comparison of report language can be found at the end of this bulletin. The House and Senate are also proposing other policy reforms for DOD R&D activities through their respective versions of this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently in conference committee. Service-level funding proposals for each ofthe three S&T accounts can be found in FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker .
Senate appropriators prioritize R&D, including basic science
While both House and Senate appropriators have commented on their support for R&D, it has been a particular focus on the Senate side. During the Senate Appropriations Committee’s consideration of its bill, Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-AL) remarked,
I’m pleased that our committee has identified resources for items not included in the budget request in the areas of basic research, hypersonics, directed energy, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, missile defense, cybersecurity, and our test and evaluation infrastructure. These investments I believe are needed in order for our military to maintain its technological superiority.
Reforms take time, but the blistering pace of technological advance isn’t going to wait for us. This bill makes a record investment in research and demonstration projects at the Department of Defense, a record amount — $95 billion for military research, $1.8 billion for medical research — these are the highest amounts of R&D spending in Pentagon history, even adjusted for inflation.
The Senate bill also proposes to boost Basic Research funding by 19 percent, from $2.3 billion to $2.8 billion. This would represent an unusually large one-year increase for an account that has mainly experienced modest growth over the last 40 years.
The Senate Appropriations Committee report refers to basic research as “the foundation for Department of Defense innovation and future technologies.” Justifying the funding increase, it cites testimony by Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin that DOD is a major funder of university-based basic research and that the department “has viewed the role of universities as producing the research innovation, the Department of Defense labs as the mechanism to nurture these findings and to render them defense-applicable, and the defense industrial base to integrate these new technologies into acquisition programs.”
Meanwhile, the House proposes to cut funding for Basic Research by 2 percent.
Senate bill would boost funding for university research and education
Throughout this bulletin, figures in parentheses represent enacted fiscal year 2018 appropriations for each program.
Defense Research Sciences ($1.5 billion). Across service branch and defense-wide accounts, the House proposes about level funding for Defense Research Sciences, while the Senate proposes a 21 percent increase to $1.8 billion. These accounts fund most DOD basic research, encompassing both extramural grants and work performed at DOD laboratories. Within their proposals, the Senate and House are in accord with the administration that Defense-wide funding for basic research through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should remain close to its current level of $423 million.
University Research Initiatives ($384 million). Across service branches, the House proposes to decrease funding by 6 percent for University Research Initiatives to $362 million, while the Senate proposes a 4 percent increase to $400 million. These accounts support extramural defense research, instrumentation, and education programs, such as the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI), the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP), the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships, and DOD’s awards in the multi-agency Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) program.
University and Industrial Research Centers ($107 million). The House proposes to cut funding for the Army’s collaborative research centers and alliances by 8 percent to $98 million, while the Senate proposes a 19 percent boost to $128 million.
Basic Research Initiatives ($41 million). The House proposes to increase funding for DOD’s Basic Research Initiatives by 10 percent to $45 million, while the Senate proposes a 35 percent increase to $55 million. This account funds the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship program and the Minerva Research Initiative. In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, funding for this account was at a higher level near $70 million, which enabled the creation of the Laboratory University Collaboration Initiative (LUCI) and the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative (DESI).
National Defense Education Program ($103 million). The National Defense Education Program aims to develop STEM talent through scholarships, fellowships, and support for STEM engagement opportunities at schools near DOD facilities. In line with the administration, the House proposes to partially roll back last year’s funding increase, leaving its budget at $86 million. The Senate, though, is proposing to nearly double the program’s budget to $201 million. Its report explains that increased investment in STEM fields is important for “the Nation’s global economic competitiveness and national security” and it encourages DOD to “partner with the Goldwater Foundation for additional education scholarships.”
Minority-serving institutions ($40 million). The House seeks a 1 percent increase in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions, while the Senate is seeking to roll recent increases back by 19 percent to $32 million.
Major technology initiatives continue to find support
As part of its efforts to help DOD transition new technologies and capabilities into combat use, Congress has boosted funding in recent appropriations for a variety of programs designed for that purpose. The annual budgets for some of the larger of these programs already exceed $1 billion, and the Senate, in particular, is proposing that this growth continue.
Air Force technology transition ($1.1 billion). The House is seeking to increase the budget for the Air Force’s Tech Transition line item by 15 percent, or $160 million, while the Senate proposes a 48 percent, half-billion dollar increase. Within the line item, the Senate specifies $651 million for advanced engine development, $558 million for hypersonics prototyping, and $150 million for directed energy prototyping. The line item has been a recent focus for new investment and was funded at $385 million as recently as fiscal year 2017.
Defense-wide technology maturation ($164 million). Similarly, the Senate is proposing to nearly double the Defense-Wide Technology Maturation Initiatives line item to $317 million, with much of the increase focused on laser technologies. The line item stood at $86 million in fiscal year 2017. The House proposes to pare it back to $154 million.
Strategic Capabilities Office ($1.2 billion). The House proposes a 1 percent, $17 million increase for the Strategic Capabilities Office, while the Senate proposes a 31 percent increase to over $1.5 billion. The office was established in 2012 to develop innovative tactical uses for existing or near-term technologies and has grown quickly since then. However, the House is proposing through its version of the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to begin a process to break the office up. The office’s founding director, physicist Will Roper, recently stepped aside to become assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. DefenseNews reports that DOD expects to name his successor by the end of this month.
The following expandable tabs offer side-by-side comparisons of language from the House and Senate appropriators’ reports.
Basic research Senate: Basic Research.—The Committee understands that basic research is the foundation for Department of Defense innovation and future technologies. As the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) recently testified before the Committee: ‘‘The Department of Defense has the third largest investment among Federal agencies in basic research at U.S. universities, who have, through years of continued investments, been the source of many of today’s transformational technologies. Traditionally, the Department has viewed the role of universities as producing the research innovation, the Department of Defense labs as the mechanism to nurture these findings and to render them defense-applicable, and the defense industrial base to integrate these new technologies into acquisition programs.’’ Accordingly, the Committee recommends a total basic research investment of $2,798,456,000, an increase of $529,280,000 above the fiscal year 2019 budget request. This includes an additional $125,000,000 in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Army; $125,000,000 in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Navy; $125,000,000 in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Air Force; and $100,000,000 in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide.
Naval science and technology Senate: Office of Naval Research Budget Structure.—The fiscal year 2019 President’s budget request includes $2,239,844,000 for science and technology research. The Committee recognizes the criticality of investing in Navy foundational research to ensure U.S. technical superiority in the coming decades and recommends $2,666,744,000 for Navy science and technology research, an increase of $426,900,000 over the budget request. The Committee notes that the budget request proposes the consolidation of several program elements into a single, larger program element that would provide unprecedented programmatic and fiscal flexibility for advanced technology development. The Committee notes its support for the consolidation of multiple program elements and the increased flexibility associated with that realignment in previous years; however, the Committee is concerned that a further realignment of program elements would erode programmatic and fiscal transparency, and reorient foundational long-term science and technology research to near-term priorities. Therefore, the Committee rejects the proposal to consolidate multiple program elements and establish a single new program element in fiscal year 2019 and recommends retaining the existing program element budget structure for naval research. The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller) is directed to follow this budget structure in future budget submissions.
Research facilities House: Army Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories.—The Committee notes the important work being conducted at Army Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories around the country but remains concerned about the current state of research facilities, office space, and other infrastructure at some premier Army laboratories. Modern buildings, equipment, and other resources are vital to ensuring that the Army stays at the cutting edge of technology and continues to recruit and retain the most talented scientific personnel. The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to prioritize recapitalizing, refurbishing, and modernizing facilities at Army research laboratories.
Research coordination House: Cooperative Research.—The Committee is pleased with efforts by the Service Secretaries to increase communication and cooperation among the military services on science and technology investments. Coordination of the respective research agendas and investment plans will help reduce duplication, better leverage investments in areas of mutual interest, and reduce gaps in promising areas of technology. The Committee directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act which identifies the strategy and goals for each specific area of ongoing cooperative research, a five-year plan of prospective areas of cooperative research, and an estimate of amounts and sources of funding to carry out such research.
Open campus model House: Army Research Laboratory Open Campus Initiative.—The Committee supports the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Open Campus Initiative which was created in 2014 to increase collaboration with universities and other external research stakeholders. Since that time, ARL Open Campus has established a presence in geographic regions across the United States. Through these extended campuses, Army researchers are able to easily collaborate with and leverage scientific assets outside ARL head- quarters. The Committee encourages the Director of the Army Research Lab to create additional opportunities for the United States academic research and development community to contribute to Department of Defense science and technology efforts. The Committee recommendation includes $4,000,000 to support the hiring of university faculty under joint appointments with the laboratory at ARL extended campuses to increase access to infrastructure, research staff, equipment, concepts, and results.
STEM education Senate: National Defense Education Program.—The Committee understands that the Nation’s global economic competitiveness and national security are dependent on a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math and believes that increased investment is needed by the Department in these fields. Therefore, the Committee provides an increase in basic research funds for the National Defense Education Program and encourages the Department to partner with the Goldwater Foundation for additional education scholarships.
Manufacturing education Senate: Manufacturing Engineering Programs.—The Committee recognizes that the United States must maintain a technically trained workforce to meet the defense industrial base requirements of the Department of Defense. Therefore, the Committee recommends an additional $5,000,000 above the fiscal year 2019 President’s budget request for manufacturing engineering grants and encourages the Secretary of Defense to prioritize funding under this program to support community colleges and technical schools.
Technology transfer Senate: Technology Transfer.—The Committee recognizes the importance of technology transfer between the Federal Government and non- Federal entities, such as academia, nonprofit organizations, and State and local governments. Technology transfer lowers the cost of new defense-related technology development and ensures that taxpayer investments in research and development benefit the economy and the industrial base. The Committee encourages the Department of Defense to continue placing an increased focus on technology transfer programs by allocating sufficient funding and leveraging the work being performed by Federal laboratories.
Small business innovation programs House: Small Business Innovation Research Program.—The Committee recognizes that the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a valuable tool to engage small businesses and provide a pathway for innovators to conduct business with the Department of Defense. According to SBIR law, agencies are to use the SBIR awardee to the greatest extent practicable, thus giving that awardee the opportunity to perfect and scale their innovations. If an agency determines that it is not practicable to pursue SBIR-developed technologies with their SBIR awardee they are to notify the Small Business Administration and allow for an appeal process. The Committee is concerned about the Navy’s adherence to SBIR law, specifically as it pertains to the fully competed Automated Test and Re-Test program. Despite communications from the Navy that the technology has been successful; has led to an ‘‘enterprise-wide’’ approach; and can lower the time, cost, and improve the quality of naval warfare systems, the Navy resists deploying the technology beyond a few programs, while at the same time pursuing other entities. The resistance to allow innovators to participate in Department of Defense markets directly impacts transformational efficiencies recommended by military leadership. As such, the Committee recommendation includes a transfer of $30,000,000 from the Office of Naval Research management headquarters to the Automated Test and Re-Test program for the purpose of scaling and deploying the technology throughout the Navy.
Defense Rapid Innovation Fund.—The Committee recommendation includes $250,000,000 for the Defense Rapid Innovation Fund. The Committee strongly encourages the Secretary of Defense to focus this program on the validation and transition of promising technologies developed by small businesses from the research and development stage through the prototype stage.
Prototyping Senate: Prototyping and Experimentation.—The fiscal year 2019 President’s budget request includes $1,186,075,000 in the Technology Transition Program to demonstrate, prototype, and experiment with innovative technologies and concepts to accelerate their transition to acquisition programs and eventual operational use. Specifically, the Technology Transition Program includes the Adaptive Engine Transition Program [AETP], hypersonics prototyping, smaller lifecycle developmental prototyping efforts, and experimentation campaigns. The Committee remains supportive of these activities, but is concerned about the amount of transparency and budget documentation provided in the budget request. Therefore, the Committee recommendation includes separate budget lines and program elements for the larger activities within the Technology Transition Program, to include AETP, hypersonics prototyping, and directed energy prototyping. The Committee recommends keeping the shorter-term prototyping and experimentation activities in the Technology Transition Program for greater flexibility to explore new ideas, concepts, and technologies. The Committee continues to expect timely and complete communication from the Air Force on prototyping and experimentation activities to include objectives and requirements, transition plans, technology and manufacturing readiness levels, test activities, costs, schedules, and performance metrics.
Other Transaction Authority House: The Committee supports the Department of Defense’s use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) as an important tool to provide flexibility and agility for cutting-edge research and development projects and prototypes. However, the Committee is concerned with the lack of transparency on the use of OTA authority for follow-on production procurements. Therefore, the Committee directs that no funds may be obligated or expended to carry out a follow-on production contract or transaction under Section 2371b(f) of title 10, United States Code, until 30 days after the Secretary of Defense provides the congressional defense committees with notification of the proposed contract or transaction, including a determination and finding of the facts and circumstances to clearly and convincingly justify the specific determination made.
Directed energy Senate: Directed Energy.—The 2018 National Defense Strategy describes a changing security environment due to rapid technological advancements and the changing character of war. The Committee understands that directed energy, a family of emerging non-kinetic capabilities, will play a key role in shaping the air, maritime, and ground battlefield environments. The Committee has been supportive of the Department’s directed energy activities to date to ensure that these capabilities are an operational advantage for the U.S. military. The Committee supports additional investments to further develop directed energy technology and transition these activities to both offensive and defensive capabilities in the future. As a result, the Committee recommends an additional $316,500,000 above the President’s budget request for directed energy activities. Specifically, the Committee recommends an additional $150,000,000 for Air Force prototyping activities to support the application of directed energy technology for air base air defense, precision attack, and aircraft self-protection. These investments are intended to support the Air Force Directed Energy Weapon Flight Plan and the continued development of high energy lasers and high-power microwave weapons. Additional investments to advance the development of directed energy capabilities by the Missile Defense Agency are addressed separately.
Solid State Laser—Technology Maturation.—The Committee notes and supports the Navy’s increased investment in several directed energy programs, to include the Solid State—Technology Maturation [SSL–TM] program, which is intended to accelerate the evaluation of the military utility of laser weapons across a range of Navy mission applications by fielding initial capabilities on surface ships. The Committee notes that since its inception, the SSL– TM program scope has expanded and development costs have tripled. Further, cost overruns have occurred at multiple program levels, and significant concurrency between the development and fielding efforts are creating further risk to cost and schedule. Therefore, the Committee directs the Government Accountability Office [GAO] to provide to the congressional defense committees, not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act, a report reviewing the SSL– TM program. At a minimum, the report should review: (1) program requirements, including changes thereto; (2) technology readiness levels including maturity relative to requirements; (3) the current acquisition strategy and program baseline(s); (4) the SSL–TM test strategy and associated resourcing; (5) contract strategy, and (6) the program management structure.
Materials R&D House: Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Program.—The Committee recognizes the importance of the Army’s Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments program which expands research, education, and technology development efforts in protection materials. Strengthening the domestic capability to develop and manufacture essential protection materials is vital to national security. The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to continue to support this important research.
Senate: Strategic Materials Research.—The Committee continues to recognize the importance of the Army Research Laboratory [ARL] in expanding research, education, and technology development efforts in materials and metals processing science and engineering, aiming to transform the affordability, performance and environmental sustainability of strategic materials. The Committee further notes that ARL’s Open Campus concept benefits the Army, the academic community, and industry through collaboration involving ARL’s research staff and facilities, leading to continued technological superiority for the U.S. warfighter. The Committee encourages the Army to consider accelerating expansion of its Open Campus approach to its Materials and Manufacturing Science laboratories in order to benefit strategic materials research.
Material Development, Characterization, and Computational Modeling.—The Committee recognizes the importance of evaluating materials and technologies as well as designing and developing methodologies and models to enable enhanced lethality and survivability. Methods such as computational research allow for the development of models that predict the mechanical properties of materials that are used in research and development at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory [ARL]. These models and simulations, which are based on quantum mechanics, statistical mechanics principles and thermodynamic simulations, and are tested via cold spray synthesis and mechanical testing, provide a cost savings to the Department of Defense by simulating materials prior to testing them to ensure mechanical properties will work together. Additionally, these methodologies allow for the enhanced development of technologies such as lightweight armors, protective structures, kinetic energy active protection, ballistic shock and mine blast protection, helmet technologies to prevent traumatic brain injury, and numerous other uses. The Committee encourages ARL to continue the utilization of computational modeling and simulations research to achieve greater cost savings.
Composite materials House: Metal Matrix Composite.—The Committee recognizes the versatility and broad application that metal matrix composite technology provides for the military by significantly reducing the weight of parts while simultaneously increasing service life. The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to continue to test, develop, and field metal matrix composite components that can reduce vehicle weight, reduce fuel consumption, increase payload capacity, and extend service life.
Senate: Advanced Composites.—The Committee recognizes the unique role of the Air Force in developing advanced composites for next generation air and space vehicles. The Committee also recognizes the contribution of university research institutions to the Air Force in understanding the technology, processes, and materials used in advanced composites manufacturing as well as addressing shortages of qualified scientists and engineers. The Committee recommends additional funding in applied research and encourages the Air Force to continue to support the test, evaluation, and certification of advanced composites at academic institutions with proven capabilities in aviation and aerospace.
Weapons energetics and reactive materials House: Advanced Energetics Research.—The Committee recognizes the requirement for continued investment in advanced energetics research and development to increase the lethality, range, and speed of weapons; develop new capabilities; and expand the domestic energetics workforce. The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Navy to support advanced energetics research and development efforts and to incorporate successful technologies into advanced weapon systems.
Reactive Material Structures.—The Committee is aware of advances in reactive material structures technology that show promise for enhancing explosive capacity beyond existing capabilities. The Committee encourages the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) to pursue efforts to test and evaluate these technologies in support of increasing munitions lethality.
Energy storage House: Energy Storage Research.—The Committee supports continued research in power generation and energy storage and notes that the development and deployment of lithium ion batteries are critical to current and future missions. However, the Committee understands that safety concerns have often hindered the operational use of lithium ion batteries. The Committee believes that the development and qualification of materials technologies, such as non-flammable electrolytes, aimed at improving lithium ion battery safety and performance should be a research priority.
Batteries for Austere Locations.— The Committee recognizes the danger often faced by servicemembers in fuel resupply missions in remote outposts. The Committee also notes the development of next generation, high capacity, high power batteries, and their potential ability to reduce fuel costs, increase dependability, and reduce risks faced by servicemembers. The Committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to assess the potential use of next generation, high capacity, and high power batteries at remote outposts in austere operating locations.
Senate: Power Generation and Storage Research.—The Committee continues to support Navy investments in power generation and energy storage research, and recommends an increase of $5,000,000 for that purpose. The Committee understands that development and deployment of lithium-ion batteries are critical to Department of Defense missions, but that safety incidents restrict their operational use. Therefore, the Committee believes that the development and qualification of materials technologies, including nonflammable electrolytes, to reduce the risk of thermal runaway and improve safety in lithium-ion batteries should be a research priority.
All Solid-State Battery Technology.—The Committee recognizes that development of all solid-state battery technology could dramatically increase the energy density of current batteries while providing a safer power system by eliminating the need for a flammable electrolyte and reducing the complexity of the battery management system. Batteries with higher energy densities would improve a soldier’s warfighting capability by reducing the weight of multiple batteries required for combat operations. The Committee encourages the Secretary of Defense to continue investments that improve battery densities thereby reducing the weight carried by soldiers in the field. Alternative energy Senate: Air Force Alternative Energy Research.—The Committee is concerned that the Air Force is under-emphasizing the transition of alternative energy research into Air Force enterprise requirements. Therefore, the Committee directs the Secretary of the Air Force to report to the congressional defense committees not later than 90 days after enactment of this act detailing how the Air Force aligns its alternative energy research agenda with enterprise requirements. The report should include the metrics used to evaluate how the expenditure of funds serve the goals identified in its Energy Flight Plan: 2017–2036 and how the Air Force plans to transition existing alternative energy research, development, test and evaluation projects to meet Air Force energy requirements.
Trusted microelectronics House: Trusted Foundry.—The Committee recognizes the importance of obtaining microelectronics from trusted suppliers. The Committee urges the Secretary of Defense to facilitate and encourage competition in the fabrication of microelectronic devices when two or more participants in the Trusted Foundry Program can provide such devices and to expand opportunities for participation in the Trusted Foundry program. Participants in the Trusted Foundry Program should have the opportunity to compete under full, open, and merit-based bidding, to the extent practicable, for all Trusted Foundry contracts.
Senate: Trusted Microelectronics.—In the fiscal year 2019 budget submission, the Department requested $587,320,000 for trusted and assured microelectronics and DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative. The Committee is pleased to see the Department prioritize programs that will ensure access to trusted microelectronics and develop manufacturing processes for next generation chips. However, the Committee notes that additional funds are needed in fiscal year 2019 for the United States to maintain global microelectronics leadership and added $447,000,000 above the President’s budget request to accelerate multiple efforts. Therefore, the Committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) to provide a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 180 days after enactment of this act which details a plan for using increased resources to accelerate the trusted microelectronics strategy and roadmap. The report shall also include a definition of the scope of the microelectronics problem; an update on domestic manufacturing capability and infrastructure needed to provide legacy and future chips for our weapons systems; and testing protocols that the Department is utilizing to ensure current microelectronics have achieved security assurance.
Silicon carbide electronics Senate: Silicon Carbide Power Electronics.—The Committee supports the Navy’s investment to develop advanced power and energy technology to meet requirements for higher electric power loads through efficient means. The Committee understands that use of silicon carbide power modules may reduce the size and weight of power conversion modules and other electronic systems necessary for advanced sensors and weapon systems. The Committee recommends $5,000,000 for silicon carbide power electronics research and encourages the Secretary of the Navy to continue to invest in advanced power and energy technology and accelerate the qualification of silicon carbide power modules to be used on highpower, mission critical Navy platforms.
Strategic and critical minerals Senate: Strategic and Critical Minerals.—The Committee understands that the United States is reliant on the importation of strategic and critical minerals that are essential to national defense and believes that the Department of Defense should be integrated into the comprehensive Federal strategy as directed by Executive Order 13817. Therefore, the Committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) and the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency to produce a joint report to the congressional defense committees not later than 180 days after enactment of this act which details Department of Defense acquisition programs that require strategic and critical minerals, foreign sources of these minerals, and current supply levels of critical minerals in US stockpiles available for Department usage. In addition, the report should describe Department agencies that are capable of performing topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and a list of strategic and critical minerals that should be prioritized for mapping in order to enhance supply chain security.
Additive manufacturing Senate: Advanced Additive Technologies For Sustainment of Navy Assets.—The Committee recognizes the need to accelerate the delivery of technical capabilities to support the warfighter and to advance technologies that will modernize and sustain military systems in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The Committee recommends $20,000,000 to support the development of advanced additive technologies for sustainment of Navy assets, including cold spray.
Space technology Senate: Space Acquisition Strategy.—The Committee supports the Air Force’s plans to develop more capable and defendable satellites and appreciates the intention to be faster, more agile, and more innovative. The Committee also understands that there will be risks and tradeoffs with such a shift in strategy that will mean less predictability and possibly failures. The Committee’s concerns, articulated in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 (Public Law 115–141), are not about the risks involved with innovation or speed, but rather the risks involved with redeveloping nearly every major space system simultaneously. As noted last year, the Air Force is beginning development efforts for space situation awareness; position, navigation, and timing; weather; overhead persistent infrared; wide-band communications; and protected communications, with major changes to the program of record planned in nearly every case. The Committee remains concerned that the decision to accept less predictability and the possibility of failure in all of these programs simultaneously may pose unacceptable risks to constellation sustainment. These risks may be compounded in an environment where the acquisition workforce, rooted in contemplation and caution, is asked to shift its culture toward speed and agility for so many efforts. Moreover, the Committee is concerned that the funding peaks and troughs that will likely result from simultaneous architecture recapitalization may not take into account budget realities and may risk sustainment of the industrial base at levels adequate for future program needs. The Committee looks forward to receiving the report directed last year that will provide an assessment of these issues and looks forward to working with the Department to achieve the best way forward for the future of these space programs.
Space-based sensors Senate: Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared.—The fiscal year 2019 President’s budget request includes $643,126,000 for Next- Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared [OPIR], the successor to the Space Based Infrared System [SBIRS]. This is in addition to the $327,002,000 appropriated in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018 (Public Law 115–141) for the start of Next-Gen OPIR, following a shift in the Air Force strategy away from a prior plan to purchase additional SBIRS space vehicles. The Committee is supportive of the Air Force’s efforts to provide improved missile warning capabilities that are more survivable against emerging threats. However, the Committee has concerns about several shifts in the program plans over the past year, delays in providing a spend plan for the program, and requests for additional funds so soon after the program’s start. The Committee is hopeful that these initial hiccups do not signal challenges ahead in meeting the aggressive timelines laid out by the Department. The Committee agrees with Air Force and Department leadership that Next-Gen OPIR will be a pacesetter for rapid acquisition of space programs. Therefore, despite these concerns, the Committee recommends fully funding the Air Force budget request. In addition, the Committee recommends an additional $100,000,000 for advanced sensor development. The Committee reiterates guidance from last year that OPIR is designated as a congressional special interest item and continues to direct the Secretary of the Air Force to provide quarterly briefings to the congressional defense committees detailing progress against cost and schedule milestones.
Short-wave infrared cameras Senate: Short-Wave Infrared Cameras.—The Committee is aware of recent advances in ultra-fast short-wave infrared camera technology that rapidly capture images and detect threats with extreme sensitivity and precision. New advances in machine vision, powered by rapidly growing artificial intelligence and neuromorphic technologies can absorb and process data at much higher rates. The Committee encourages the Secretary of Defense to increase its research investments into these areas with the goal of creating new threat identification systems.
Space solar power House: Space Solar Power Program.—The Committee understands that the Space Solar Power program is an Air Force priority but has concerns about its assignment to the recently created Space Rapid Capabilities Office. Fiscal year 2019 budget justification materials do not include sufficient requirements, schedules, or costs to merit rapid acquisition. Therefore, the Committee designates this program as a new start and congressional special interest item, and directs the Secretary of the Air Force to assign all programmatic responsibilities, including budget authority, for the Space Solar Power program to the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Hypersonics Senate: Hypersonics.—The 2018 National Defense Strategy identifies hypersonics as a key technology to ensure that the United States maintains its technology superiority and ability to fight and win the wars in the future. The fiscal year 2019 President’s budget request invests in both offensive and defensive hypersonics capabilities. The Committee understands that the Department of Defense is accelerating existing efforts in hypersonics to counter the progress made by near peer threats. To support and accelerate several of the Department’s current activities, the Committee recommends an increase of $928,600,000 over the President’s budget request to support hypersonics research and prototyping efforts. Specifically, the Committee recommends an additional $345,000,000 for the Office of the Secretary of Defense to accelerate prompt global strike capability development as well as an additional $50,000,000 for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop offensive hypersonic weapons. Further, the recommendation includes an additional $300,000,000 to support the Air Force’s decision to accelerate prototyping efforts for the air launched rapid response weapon and hypersonic conventional strike weapon. Finally, the Committee recommends an additional $113,000,000 for the Navy and the Strategic Capabilities Office to design, fabricate, and test an advanced rail gun mount and continue development of associated hypervelocity projectile. Additional investments to advance the development of hypersonic capabilities by the Missile Defense Agency are addressed separately.
Artificial intelligence Senate: Artificial Intelligence.—The Committee understands the importance of investing in high priority advanced technology areas such as artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning in order to maintain the United States’ military superiority and technological edge over near-peer adversaries. Accordingly, the Committee adds $308,000,000 in addition to amounts requested in the fiscal year 2019 budget submission to achieve dominant AI capabilities, including an additional $150,000,000 for the algorithmic warfare cross function team also known as Project Maven and $83,000,000 to establish a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. The Committee believes these critical investments will accelerate the pursuit of state of the art AI systems that can be rapidly adapted to the warfighting mission needs of the Department. Therefore, the Committee directs the Under Secretary of Defense (Research and Engineering) to brief the congressional defense committees with a comprehensive plan to execute additional funding provided for AI and machine learning not later than 180 days after enactment of this act and strongly encourages the Department to establish long-term, strategic partnerships with non-traditional defense contractors that operate outside of the traditional defense industrial base.