The incredible shrinking budget for U.S. military technology research

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) is on a trajectory for a third straight year of decline, with a fiscal 2013 request for $69.65 billion-down nearly 14 percent from recent-year peak spending of $80.92 billion in 2010.

Over the past seven budget cycles, DOD research saw steady increases from 2007 to 2010, but then nosed over in a sharp decline. DOD research spending fell to $76.13 billion in 2011, to $72.84 billion this year, and would drop further to a seven- year low of $69.65 billion in fiscal 2013, which begins next Oct. 1.

The Pentagon's RDT&E budget is the nation's well spring of military technology development. It is the source of funding for enabling technologies that are key to a wide variety of new and emerging military applications, ranging from advanced avionics, network-centric warfare, unmanned vehicles, ballistic missile defense, to laser weapons, locating improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and strategic computing.

Cutting the military RDT&E budget, as the Pentagon has been doing, will force technology developers to make some hard decisions, because not all the research and development initiatives begun over the past several years can remain high priorities.

At best, a continued downward trend in U.S. military research spending will provide incentive for defense officials to sharpen their pencils, cut the dead wood, and redefine their highest military technology priorities for the years to come, based on promoting the most promising emerging technologies and either abandoning or cutting back on projects with low potential.

At worst, however, an ongoing decline in military research spending threatens vital technology development initiatives at a moment in time when the U.S. military is in transition from a Post-World War II Cold-War footing to a very uncertain future involving threats from radical Islamic regimes in the Middle East, to economically dominant China that is flexing its military muscle around the world, to a resurgent Russia eager to reassert its military prowess.

Without a very shrewd husbanding of dwindling military RDT&E resources over the next several years, the entire U.S. military establishment risks a long-term decline.

Some experts had believed that the Pentagon's research budget might see a resurgence in 2013, as the financial demands of long-term military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan eased as those conflicts begin winding up. For a decade, the Pentagon had to bear the expense of maintaining troops in the field deployed in active military operations. Troops had to be fed, clothed, and equipped, vehicles and aircraft had to be maintained and fueled, and communications had to be installed overseas to keep touch with those on the front lines.

At the same time, military vehicles and equipment wore out, and demand rose for new technologies to meet quickly changing threats like IEDs. For those 10 years, caring for deployed troops TODAY was the priority, and military needs of tomorrow took a back seat.

Now that troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are starting to come home, 2013 seemed like the best opportunity in a long time to replenish research and development accounts, but it was not to be.

The U.S. Army is one of the few bright spots in the 2013 DOD research budget. The Army's research budget would grow by 2.2 percent in 2013 to $8.95 billion from 2012 levels of $8.76 billion, dominated by research and development in manned ground vehicles. After the Army, however, all the other military services and defense agencies collectively will see declines in their research and development budgets.

More Military & Aerospace Electronics Current Issue Articles
More Military & Aerospace Electronics Archives Issue Articles


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


The Innovation That Matters™ Quiz

Innovation is one of the key drivers in the Defense industry. View this short video of Leon Woo, VP of Engineering at Mercury Systems, on the role of innovation. Then, answer 3 simple questions correctly to be entered into a drawing to win an Eddie Bauer fleece jacket!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR TWO MOST RECENT WINNERS. "Nick from SPARWAR" and "Bridget from AOC."


Military & Aerospace Photos

Related Products

F-SIM-LDR ARINC 615A Data Loader

AIT's F-SIM-LDR, or Flight Simulyzer Loader, is a complete ARINC-615A Data Loader development kit...

cPCI-1760-SW-4

AceXtreme® Bridge Device - Smart Protocol Converter

DDC’s AceXtreme Bridge Device converts avionics messages in real time between Ethernet, MIL-STD-1...

Related Companies

CES - Creative Electronic Systems SA

Has been designing and manufacturing complex high-performance avionics, defense and communication boards, subsystems ...

Boker's Inc

Boker's, Inc. can manufacture your flat washers, spacers and shims with an outside diameter from 0.080" to 12" and ma...

DLS Electronic Systems Inc

Provides EMC/EMI & Environmental testing to MIL-STD 461-A-F, MIL-STD 810 & RTCA DO-160-C-G, Boeing, Airbus FAA AC20-1...
Wire News provided by   

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Advantages of Intel Architecture Products and Wind River Solutions in Military & Aerospace Applications

This webinar explains the individual advantages of the Intel Architecture hardware, available for long-life supply, and the WRS software portfolio.  There are extraordinary advantages of combining such ...
Sponsored by:

social activity

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

February 2014
Volume 25, Issue 2
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE