DoD asks for $18 billion increase for future technologies

The Defense Department plans to make significant investments in future technologies with the rollout of the 2019 budget.

The Pentagon wants to pump $92.3 billion into research and development for technologies like hypersonic weapons, cyber defense, artificial intelligence, space and directed energy.

The budget request is an $18 billion increase from the 2018 president’s budget.

The investment follows a trend within DoD that has now spanned two administrations to build on the United States’ technological superiority after spending the last decade and a half fighting in the Middle East.

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Military leadership is now turning its attention to near-peer adversaries and challenging them in the cyber and electronic warfare realms.

“Part of the nature of the changing environment is the importance of staying in front of the technology changes and the evolving threats as it expands across a number of different domains and so our research program reflects that,” DoD Comptroller David Norquist said during a Feb. 12 press briefing at the Pentagon. “This spread [of research investment] shows the domains that we are operating in and how our enemies are attempting to operate in and the challenge has expanded and we need to be able to address those.”

The Air Force will see a considerable increase of $4.8 billion over the 2018 request and a two year increase of $10 billion from 2017. The request totals about $30 billion.

“Faced with an eroding technological advantage in an international environment of great power competition, the 2019 R&D budget invests heavily in innovative technologies, funds the modernization of our nuclear force and transforms major space capabilities to better perform in a contested environment,” Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget Maj. Gen. John M. Pletcher said.

Air Force R&D with fund the future B-21 Raider bomber, the start of the GPS III follow-on development and invest in the adaptive engine transition program.

The Navy is asking for an increase of $800 million in its R&D account, bringing its total to $18.5 billion for 2019.

The Navy will increase funding for its laser family of systems and for its unmanned undersea vehicle and aerial drone research and development.

The Army is asking for $700 million more than 2018 and requesting $10.2 billion in 2019. Its R&D investments will focus on mobile protected firepower, combat vehicle prototyping and long range precision fires.

DoD’s investments in R&D come as the department is trying to bolster innovation within the Pentagon.

On Feb. 1, the Pentagon cut its acquisition office in half creating an Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

The purpose of the split is to give the research and engineering side more time to innovate and not worry about mundane buying tasks.

The research and engineering side will work on prototyping, experimentation, tech transition, tech development, allocation of resources of research and unifying research efforts.

The split was mandated by Congress in the 2017 defense authorization act.