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Defense Initiatives in Technology-Based Partnerships
Remarks by Gary L. Denman, director, Advanced Research Projects Agency, The Technology-Based Partnership Conference, Santa Barbara, Calif., Thursday, February 02, 1995

The Department of Defense faces a greater challenge than ever before to provide for our national security. This is a result of the dramatic changes brought on by the end of the Cold War. New threats have increased the need for fast, flexible, mobile forces with the most advanced weapon systems. We must prepare our fighting forces for uncertain missions of the future by equipping them with the most technologically advanced products that are affordable and accessible. Technology is the key foundation of our post-Cold War strategy.

In the last several decades the defense industrial base has become more and more isolated from the national or commercial industrial base. And today, because of the cuts in defense spending with the end of the Cold War, this defense-unique industrial base is shrinking.

No longer are the most advanced technologies emerging exclusively through DoD investment. No longer is the DoD the dominant customer for most high technology. We cannot afford to maintain two distinct industrial bases. DoD is a smaller customer and less capable of affording the equipment it needs. As a nation we can no longer rely solely on the defense-unique industries to equip our military. We must move toward a single national technology and industrial base that will serve military as well as commercial needs.

This is a dual-use strategy that will allow DoD to exploit the rapid rate of innovation and market-driven efficiencies of commercial industry to meet defense needs. DoD must be capable of leveraging the commercial industrial base to attain three compatible objectives: access to leading-edge technology, affordable products and the ability to rebuild military capability should the world situation call for it.

By leveraging advanced commercial technologies and efficient industrial production, the DoD, through demonstrated superior systems integration skills, can produce technologically advanced defense-unique systems. Developing dual-use technologies, components and even subsystems today will make DoD stronger, capable of meeting our national security needs of the future.

One way DoD is leveraging the commercial industrial base is through government-industry partnerships. Recent experiences have demonstrated the importance of government-industry and industry-industry partnerships.

The SEMATECH initiative in the microelectronics industry has been the most talked about of these partnerships. Together industry and government have made substantial investments in key infrastructure technologies that have had, and will continue to have, a major impact on this vital industry sector. Also, we have learned that partnering doesn't have to last forever. Together SEMATECH and DoD have agreed to end government direct sponsorship in FY [fiscal year] 96, leaving behind a strong industry that can support DoD and commercial needs affordably.

Many other successful examples of industry-government partnerships exist. These include consortia targeted at specific industry sectors, specific technologies and specific one-time projects. Many of these are happening as a result of DoD's focus on leveraging commercial technology and dual-use technology. At the Advanced Research Projects Agency we are particularly proud of the Technology Reinvestment Project. Other examples exist in other agencies, such as DoE's [Department of Energy] emphasis on CRADAs [Cooperative Research and Development Agreements]. ...

I would like to describe to you two lesser known, but extremely successful, partnerships between DoD and industry. The first is a very significant example of technology driven by defense needs leveraged against commercial potential. This is the millimeter and microwave integrated circuits area. It is as near perfect a dual-use story as any I've seen. And it is successful because of the partnership between government and industry.

The primary objective of the program has been the development of high-performance, affordable microwave and millimeter wave technology for building electronic systems. These circuits have multiple applications in both defense and commercial products. The partnership has established a solid design and manufacturing infrastructure for MMIC technology.

This partnership's successes to date can be measured by the success of the MMIC industry and supporting industry. For example:


  • Two U.S. substrate vendors are profitable and selling material worldwide.
  • Two computer-aided design vendors are profitable and dominate the world market for microwave CAD.
  • More than six MMIC program participants are providing foundry services to multiple customers worldwide.
  • Test equipment developed under the program defines the state of the art.
  • Several package vendors are now available to support the MMIC industry.

Commercial and defense applications for MMICs are so prolific that through a fairly modest investment, DoD now has affordable access to this defense critical technology in areas such as precision location (GPS)[Global Positioning System], radar antenna and communication systems.

Even more, MMICs are a key enabler for greatly improved performance of defense systems. MMIC technology insertion into the guidance system of the Patriot advanced tactical missile has increased the detection of targets by a factor of two, reduced the missile tracking errors for much greater accuracy in hitting targets, and improved the ability to find low cross-section targets.

My second example of DoD leveraging the commercial industrial base through partnerships is in the materials industry.

In 1991 Congress authorized $50 million for DoD to form six precompetitive consortia and in 1992 provided $70 million for dual-use partnerships. The resulting partnerships with industry and universities have been extremely beneficial to DoD and industry alike.

One of the most successful is the Investment Casting Cooperative Agreement, a precompetitive consortium that was formed in 1992. It is made up of two foundries (HOWMET and PCC)[Precision Casting Corp.], two industry users (P&W, GEAE)[Pratt and Whitney, General Electric Aircraft Engines] and a software company (UES)[Universal Energy System], with ARPA and the Air Force as the primary government members. Interface with other federal casting initiatives takes place on a regular basis between ICCA and NIST [National Institute for Standards and Technology] and DoE laboratories.

The vision of the consortium is to enhance the global competitiveness of the U.S. investment casting industry and its customers. The partnership is using collaboration to develop an investment casting simulation computer code and procedure to dramatically reduce the cost and time to design and produce production airfoil and structural castings.

To date the consortium has successfully demonstrated a construction and simulation tool that reduces the time to develop an investment casting model from three weeks to less than three days.

These two government-industry partnerships have been successful because of three key factors. First, government followed the lead of industry in defining the scope of the partnership. Second, industry solved the competition question -- focusing on the infrastructure (manufacturing tools is usually a successful formula). And third, industry established internal processes to absorb the results from partnerships, i.e., overcome the NIH [not invented here] factor.

I mentioned the TRP as one of ARPA's flagship efforts to leverage commercial and dual-use technology; it is the most recent example of government-initiated partnering with industry. It is designed to ensure industry's commitment to "productize." The primary goal of the TRP is to find ways to successfully leverage the national investment of billions of dollars in domestic R&D [research and development] to meet military purposes.

The program has three key requirements. First, each project must be driven by a compelling defense need. Second, each proposal is judged solely on its merits, and third, winning proposals have to share the cost with the government.

The successes in the resulting government-industry partnerships have been extremely encouraging. For an investment of $400 million annually the TRP has leveraged billions of dollars of industrial R&D.

The policy of cost sharing is crucial, not so much because it increases our investment, but because it guarantees the companies involved have some confidence in the commercial prospects for the technology because they share both the risk and the benefit.

One TRP program, the Affordable Composites for Propulsion program, serves as a model for affordable technology development. The technology developed by this partnership will positively impact both the commercial and military aircraft engine industries and their suppliers while bringing forward significantly improved engine performance.

Industry partners include P&W, the Boeing Co., DOW-UT [Dow Chemical-Utah], DuPont, Hercules and Vought Aircraft Co. Government partners are ARPA, the Air Force, Navy and NASA .

This effort is a model for dual-use technology development Its development of affordable composite engine components will enable the early commercial market introduction of next-generation engines. Defense Department involvement in the partnership will ensure access to improved engine technology and a viable composite supplier base. For both government and industry, affordability is the foremost aim. The team is ... focusing on manufacturing-based design approaches using low cost composite processes at the onset of the engine development, as well as integrated product and process development.

Another promising TRP program is the Uncooled Infrared Sensors program. Uncooled infrared sensors have applications that range from embedded sensors in missile terminal guidance systems to equipment for the 21st century warrior -- an armored infantryman outfitted with night rifle sights that depend on infrared sensors that will provide a quantitative advantage. The widespread use of effective infrared devices could revolutionize our ability to fight under night, fog and smoke conditions. However, today's uncooled infrared sensors are still too expensive for widespread use and require upgraded performance as well.

This TRP project is aimed at improving performance and lowering costs at least tenfold through commercial approaches to development and economies of scale. The commercial market (the leverage needed for DoD to achieve economies of scale) is potentially great. Commercial uses include sensors for finding power line leakages, goggles for firefighters, security monitoring and night-driving aids. Three different technical approaches are being pursued by teams led by Loral, Texas Instruments and Inframetrics.

I have described just two of several successful partnerships formed under TRP. There are so many others that are just as promising, including:


  • Precision laser machining -- bringing together defense and commercial firms to put the speed and precision of military laser technology to work in machine shops and plants to ultimately reduce the cost of lasers for defense uses;
  • Combat casualty care -- saving lives through new sensors and information systems to find and diagnose casualties during the critical first hour they are injured in the field;
  • High-density data storage -- increasing the portability and ruggedness of data storage, while decreasing the cost, to provide our front-line soldiers access to the best information and intelligence;
  • Chemical and biological agent detection -- protecting soldiers from the threat of chemical and biological agents through the development of sensors that can detect and identify the agents.

The TRP is one part of a larger commitment to a dual-use strategy at the Advanced Research Projects Agency. As the director at ARPA I can tell you firsthand that it has a long history of delivering leading-edge technologies that have provided the military the technological superiority it needs to prevail in crises. And many of these technologies have proven to have dual-use application. ARPA's focus on dual-use technology research and development will help meet critical defense needs by breaking down the barriers between the commercial and defense industries. Industry-led commercial development as a spinoff of critical military technology development has an important consequence for present and future military budgets -- the broader the application of the dual-use technology, the lower the unit cost to the military.

Let me put into context the broader ARPA strategy by describing the ARPA program. The ARPA program is loosely grouped into three investment categories: one, core technologies; two, infrastructure; and three, military systems.

Core technologies are those technologies that provide the materials, electronics, software process, computing and components that are essential for meeting DoD systems needs. These investments are typically dual-use in nature, serving to advance commercial products as well as military systems.

The second category, infrastructure, refers to those technologies and capabilities that enable the DoD to produce its materiel and train and care for its personnel. The trend will be to continue to move toward a shared national infrastructure with greater reliance on the civil sector to support defense needs.

The third investment category, military applications, is the portion of the ARPA program that includes innovative technology development in support of improved, affordable military capability.

I'd like to comment briefly on a few programs that can be classified as dual-use and that have recently come under fire. The claim is that these efforts are not relevant to national security and should not be pursued by ARPA. The specific programs I am referring to include SEMATECH, electronics and materials programs, advanced simulation, manufacturing technology, and computing and communications systems, in addition to the TRP. These are historical ARPA programs that have had major military impact in the past. To rescind these efforts would be catastrophic on the future advancement of military systems.

How can I make such a strong statement? Look at the impact our sustained ARPA investment has had on military technological superiority:


  • Advanced simulation. The recent Atlantic Resolve training exercise clearly demonstrated the utility of advanced simulation. Joint warfighting decision makers confirmed that advanced simulation supported operational requirements.
  • Advanced computing. All of our current and future weapons systems rely on information technology. In declining budgets, information technology alone offers the possibility of increased performance for older platforms and systems.
  • Manufacturing technology is enabling the affordable acquisition of weapons systems, a key item during a time of reduced budgets.
  • SEMATECH and electronics initiatives are as key as advanced computing in enabling the U.S. to maintain technological superiority over adversaries.
  • Materials initiatives. Advanced materials and the low-cost manufacturing know-how for these materials in the past led to composites low-observable aircraft and will in the future enable more efficient jet engines, as one example.

The current threat to ARPA's core budget in these dual-use areas jeopardizes the nation's most successful military high-technology operation. ARPA is more vital to national security today than ever before. Tighter budgets, rapid developments in foreign technology and a U.S. policy of maintaining the best fighting force in the world requires the Defense Department to be first in technology.

ARPA has undertaken an ambitious program of investment in advanced technologies that can meet critical defense needs by exploiting the potential for a commercial market. Our challenge is to communicate how these dual-use investments benefit our fighting forces today and in the future. Defense R&D dollars are carefully invested to satisfy military needs -- to promote lower costs and higher quality at increased performance.

DoD maintains a strategy to do what it can to ensure U.S. commercial industry remains at the cutting edge in those technologies that are also critical to our military capabilities. This necessarily requires DoD to support leading-edge R&D that accelerates the development of emerging commercial technologies that simultaneously meets defense needs.

And a principal way to achieve the most from this dual-use R&D investment strategy is through government and industry partnerships that will lead to a single integrated commercial and military industrial base. A win-win solution can exist for DoD and industry through partnering.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission