To support production of kinetic capabilities needed to ensure national security, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment is making targeted investments aimed at mitigating supply chain vulnerabilities, ranging from raw materials and chemical shortages to critical subcomponent suppliers.
In response to Executive Order 14017 Securing Defense-Critical Supply Chains, the capabilities addressed by these investments include missile systems and advanced missile capabilities, such as hypersonic technologies and directed energy weapon systems — key elements of the Defense Department’s modernization efforts.
“Kinetic capabilities are composed of multiple subsystems,” Halimah Najieb-Locke, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base resilience, said. “Sustained access to these subsystems’ components, as well as to materials such as critical chemicals, is vital to ensure that the U.S. armed forces have the ability to project power, defend U.S. interests, and protect its friends and allies.”
As DOD procurements for kinetic weapons shift from a conflict-driven pattern to a focus on addressing vulnerabilities for existing and future operational platforms, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy, known as OASD(IBP), within DOD’s acquisition and sustainment office is leading the effort to ensure there’s a resilient flow of mission-critical materials to the warfighter.
In support of this mission, A&S is utilizing its two investment levers, the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program, dubbed IBAS, and the Defense Production Act Title III Program, to ensure the timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defense and homeland security requirements. These investments are often made in tandem with investments from the private sector.
Recent investments include:
* $28.9 million for expansion of ultrahigh- and high-temperature composites production capability. OASD(IBP) recently entered into a $12.97 million agreement with Carbon-Carbon Advanced Technologies Inc. to build new production capabilities, expand existing manufacturing spaces, and acquire capital equipment for the manufacture of large complex assemblies made of carbon-carbon, known as C-C. C-C is a class of advanced composite material that is critical for various defense and aerospace applications. This effort will support increased production rates for C-C nose tips and aeroshell assemblies, the primary external structures that must endure the extreme thermal and mechanical loads of hypersonic flight, for ongoing DOD-sponsored pilot production programs. Similarly, General Electric was awarded a $15.93 million contract to increase capacity for high- and ultrahigh-temperature composites, as well as accumulate capital equipment to support the scale-up aeroshell production. Both contracts address the challenge of reducing reliance on foreign and sole-source dependency, as outlined in the report on Securing Defense-Critical Supply Chains.
* $2.1 million for high priority chemicals and energetic materials. OASD(IBP) is also supporting a larger strategy to on-shore production of high-priority chemicals and address vulnerabilities in this sector. The DPA Title III Program recently entered into a $2.1 million agreement with Nalas Engineering Services to establish capability to produce 17,000 pounds of DOD-compliant aminoguanidine bicarbonate, a chemical precursor for energetic materials in DOD armaments. This investment will enable Nalas to be classified as a domestic supplier of critical chemicals.
The IBAS and Title III programs plan to invest more than $200 million into the hypersonic industrial base to de-risk supply chains and increase throughput of critical components for the Navy’s and Army’s hypersonic programs. The planned efforts address significant gaps in the industrial base’s ability to produce at capacity and enable process improvements targeting more affordable hypersonic systems. Additionally, the Title III and IBAS programs continue to invest in multiple levels of the domestic rare earth element supply chain to include light and heavy rare earth separation and processing capabilities, as well as rare earth magnet manufacturing. REEs that provide the U.S. with critical access to HREEs. REEs are present in virtually every DOD weapon system, including hypersonic missiles.
In line with the National Defense Strategy that was presented to Congress in March 2022 and sets out how the DoD will safeguard vital U.S. interests, OUSD(A&S) is also building enduring advantages by prioritizing efforts with domestic partners in the defense ecosystem. Ongoing collaborations include energetics production with the Department of Energy, space industrial base investments in conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and efforts with interagency stakeholders to address production challenges of hydrazine, a chemical component used by F-16 fighter jets and aerospace energy.
Through awards and strategic collaborations, OUSD(A&S) and DOD as a whole are addressing challenges facing the kinetic capability sector. By informing investments and taking a predictive approach to potential kinetic shortfalls, OUSD(A&S) is ensuring the warfighter has the materials and armaments to outpace the threat.