Pentagon Building Wish List for New Technology Spending

The X-51A Waverider flew its fourth and final mission May 1 over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range May 1, 2013.

Bobbi Zapka/USAF

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The X-51A Waverider flew its fourth and final mission May 1 over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range May 1, 2013.

The military’s top weapons buyer wants to better coordinate the Defense Department’s investments across its labs and research offices.

SIMI VALLEY, CALIF. — The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer is drafting a list of desired technologies as part of a new effort to coordinate the Defense Department’s research and development, including at U.S. laboratories and government-funded research centers.

“We think that we have to make choices and focus in a limited number of areas and put our funding on it,” Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum, an annual gathering of defense industry and government leaders here.

The goal of the new “modernization strategy” is to “make sure that we are aligned across the services, across all of OSD [the Office of Secretary of Defense] on a strategy that gives us greater overmatch against our adversaries,” Lord said. “In order to do that — particularly with constrained budgets — we need to have a very tight strategy that makes choices and makes sure we are taking all of our resources, all of our funding, and aligning those.”

The strategy is expected to be finished in 2018, Lord said.

One technology that will likely make the investment list is hypersonics, which use air-breathing engines to drive missiles six times the speed of sound. “We have a series of programs, some at DARPA, some within OSD, and those are moving along well,” Lord said.

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The new plan would coordinate projects funded by the individual military service laboratories, federally-funded research-and-development centers, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, she said.

“I think we can align all of these different efforts and by aligning them really make even more strides,” Lord said. “So I’m very bullish about it.”

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