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DOD Seeks Increased Microelectronics Funding for FY 2024

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (April 18, 2023) -- Microelectronics, integrated sensing and cyber, as well as integrated network systems-of-systems are prioritized in the DOD's fiscal year 2024 budget request for science and technology and prototyping sent to Congress last month by the president.

Heidi Shyu, who serves as the undersecretary for research and engineering, spoke Thursday at the National Defense Industrial Association to discuss how the department's S&T and prototyping priorities fit into the president's FY2024 budget request.

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This year's budget request includes about $145 billion for research, development, testing and engineering. That request is 12% higher than in FY2023, and also represents the largest request in department history.

Among the areas of focus within the RDT&E budget are 14 critical technology areas Shyu determined in early 2022 should be deemed critical for investment by the department.

Among those technology areas are biotechnology; quantum science; future-generation wireless technology and advanced materials -- all noted to be "emerging opportunities."

Technologies such as trusted artificial intelligence and autonomy; integrated network systems-of-systems; microelectronics; space technology; renewable energy generation and storage; advanced computing and software; and human-machine interfaces are also areas the department will need to focus on to help maintain U.S. national security, and where there currently exists vibrant activity in the commercial sector the department can rely on.

And finally, critical technology areas such as directed energy; hypersonics; and integrated sensing and cyber remain relatively unique to the needs of the defense community.

Within the FY2024 budget request, about $6.93 billion is aimed at S&T and prototyping funding -- and that's broken down by the department's 14 critical technology areas.

"If you take a look at the split of the pie by critical technology areas, you'll see microelectronics is ... about a quarter of the pie," Shyu said. "The next piece that's under here is integrated sensing and cyber -- that's about 17% of the pie. The next biggest one is integrated network systems-of-systems. Combined, the three are about half of the pie."

Microelectronics, Shyu said, gets about $1.7 billion in funding, while integrated sensing and cyber gets about $1.2 billion, and integrated network systems-of-systems gets about $763 million.

Areas like trusted AI and autonomy, hypersonics and biotechnology are the next-largest areas of investment -- together accounting for about $1.6 billion in funding requests.

Shyu also said the department's National Defense Science and Technology Strategy is due to come out shortly. While she didn't lay out specifics within the strategy, she did spell out its key focus areas.

Among those, she said, are a focus on the joint mission, creating and fielding capabilities at speed and scale, and ensuring the department's foundations for research and development.

As part of the focus on the joint mission, Shyu mentioned investments in physics-based modeling and simulation capability and tying that into campaign-level modeling and simulation capability.

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