Pentagon tech office asks industry for ‘leap-ahead capabilities’
Andrew Eversden，C4ISRNET MARCH27
A Pentagon technology office is seeking solutions to fill gaps in the department’s war-fighting capabilities. (sakkmesterke/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office wants industry to pitch “highly innovative” technologies that could benefit war fighters in future wars.
The office, which focuses on prototyping technologies for DoD modernization priorities, released its 2021 Global Needs Statement on March 24 on beta.sam.gov. The office wants to hear from companies about products across these priority areas: artificial intelligence/machine learning; autonomy; biotechnology; cyber; directed energy; fully networked command, communication, and control; hypersonics; microelectronics; quantum; space; 5G; and other disruptive technologies.
“RRTO is looking for highly innovative technologies that have the potential to provide leap-ahead capabilities against near-peer adversaries and fill gaps in critical joint mission needs no later than 2028,” the document said.
RRTO will hold meetings this fall with companies. The office is looking for technologies that have demonstrated a proof of concept or have been validated in a lab. The goal is to prototype the innovation to a technology readiness level 6, or a “relevant environment demonstration,” and transition it to an interested service or agency.
“Solutions are expected to derive from companies’ internal research and development (IR&D) or other research efforts and suitable for maturation through DoD prototyping funding, but not mature enough to be Commercial Off-the-Shelf products,” the solicitation stated.
Just this week, defense officials and lawmakers called for increased investment in basic research and commercial capabilities. Defense Innovation Unit Director Mike Brown said that the slowing of federal research and development funds must be countered by commercial technology investment.
“Federal R&D is declining as a percentage of the economy, [and] it’s flattening out in dollar terms,” Brown said during a webcast. “Meanwhile, the commercial sector has moved ahead quite dramatically.”
The department also recently established a center of excellence in California for networked command, control and communications as part of an effort to develop large-scale communications networks that can enable the Pentagon’s joint war-fighting concept.