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

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Custom and OEM Camera Design

We provide custom designs for both modifications to existing systems and development of new produ...

Hybrid Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available withmixed power/signal contact layouts...

Nano-D Bi-Lobes® Connectors Dual Row Horizontal SMT (Type AA)

Horizontal SMT Bi-Lobe® nanos offer an extremely low profile package that is well suited to pick ...

Nano-D BiLobe® Connectors -(COTS)

Sizes are 9, 15, 21, 25, 31, 37 , 51 & 65 pin, at .025 Mil. Pitch(Currently Available), mating pi...

Micro-D Connectors

Highly rugged and compact designs in shell styles from 9 to 51 contacts. The Micro-D connectors i...

Latching Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available with Quick Latch System. For applicati...

Omnetics Nano-D Bi-Lobe® Latching Connectors

Bi-Lobe® connectors utilize rugged and reliable flex pin contact system. Spaced on 25 mil (.64mm)...

XTend7103 | COM Express® Carrier for COM Express® Type 10 Mezzanine Modules

The XTend7103 is a COM Express® carrier card designed to provide a low-cost and compact platform ...

XPedite7575 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7575 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XPort6173 | 3U VPX Carrier for Two 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

The XPort6173 supports two, standard, 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in a single 0.8 in. or 1....

Related Companies

Southwest Antennas

Designs and manufactures high-performance RF and Microwave antennas and accessories designed for today’s communicatio...

Interface Displays & Controls Inc

Certified ISO-9001/AS9100, veteran-owned, small business. Interface specializes in designing, reverse-engineering and...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

Omnetics Connector Corp

Omnetics Connector Corporation – Micro and Nano Connectors and Interconnect Systems for Military & Aerospa...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Cobham AvComm (formerly Aeroflex Test Solutions)

Is a global leader in avionics, communications, and synthetic test, monitoring, and control for commercial, governmen...

GE Aviation Systems

Designs and manufactures high reliability microelectronics for aerospace and military applications. Thick film hybrid...

Astronics Ballard Technology

Manufactures avionics databus interfaces, embedded computers, and software for aerospace, military and commercial use...

Henniker Plasma

Plasma Treatment Equipment - Plasma Cleaners, Plasma Etchers, Plasma Coating & Plasma Surface ModificationWe are the ...

KAMAKA Electronic Bauelemente Vertriebs GmbH

One of the leading Hi-Rel suppliers in Central Europe for more than 23 years. The quality of our products and the tec...


Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Press Releases


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

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

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles