The Department of Defense (DOD) recognizes the need to more rapidly develop advanced materials and manufacturing processes to enhance the capabilities of current and future platforms against existing and future threats. The DOD is developing an Advanced Materials Science & Technology (S&T) Strategy with a primary objective being to expedite the identification and fielding of materials developed for use in defense applications. The Military Departments and DOD Components are focusing investments on both meeting mission goals and making viable the promise of integrated computational materials design and processing. These investments are supported through the development of robust manufacturing processes to optimize material structures and properties, as well as through the analysis of data obtained through testing and fielding to monitor condition assessment, predict service life, and identify potential failure modes. Whether developed organically, in partnership with academia, or in conjunction with industry, the overall goal is to expedite discovery and delivery of advanced materials and processes to capture the scientific “building blocks” to meet any Department mission. The Materials S&T strategic priorities are established through the National Defense Strategy priorities to develop a more effective joint force, by ensuring technological advantage that increases weapon system capabilities while reducing operating cost. This includes leveraging theoretical, computational and experimental test data as a strategic asset, expanding data analytics capability and cultivating data-driven solutions.
In alignment with the MGI Strategic Plan objectives, the Department envisions establishing the tools, infrastructure and workforce to enable reducing the time from materials discovery to implementation from what can currently take decades, to within 1-3 years. This will be achieved through establishing reliable artificial intelligence, machine learning, and physics-based computational tools, and by developing the expertise to utilize these capabilities to transform materials discovery and development. These objectives will be fed by generating or harnessing available data on the physical properties, the impact of synthesis and processing techniques, and descriptors for the corresponding composition and structure (nano to macro); to develop and validate tools and models for materials design, materials selection, component and system engineering, manufacturing, life cycle management, and sustainment.
The DoD is uniquely positioned to target relevant engineering problems with multidisciplinary R&D efforts integrated along the full materials continuum from discovery through development, deployment, sustainment, and retirement of assets. At the foundational level, the DoD invests in basic research to explore materials through first principles, calculations, development and quantification of processing-structure-property relationships, new experimental, characterization, and computational tools to include multiscale modeling capabilities. The DoD materials S&T enterprise spans the breadth of materials and manufacturing processes used to enable all mission areas for platform and weapon capability. It is represented by scientists and engineers from across the Military Services and Components, who communicate and collaborate to establish the fundamental relationships between material structure, properties and performance, and work to advance the state of the art in materials science and engineering as applied to all military platforms and systems.
Technology investment areas are prioritized within the DoD S&T Community through the Materials and Manufacturing Processes Community of Interest (CoI), and its constituent Technical Area Teams, which consist of subject matter experts for specific technology and component requirements. There is also collaboration across the department’s Modernization Priorities, with partner CoIs, and across other Federal agencies and programs to ensure investments are focused on the most relevant opportunities and needs. Maturation of basic research and the development of industry-ready tools are accomplished in part through applied research and advanced development funding, as well as support from the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transition Research (STTR) programs where appropriate. Working with academia, federal laboratories and industry, DOD continues to leverage the important investments being made in manufacturing science and technology, and through the Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) programs to ensure technology transition. This coordination is accelerating the implementation of advanced materials and systems. Leading by example, DOD researchers and performers are engaging with students and colleagues to develop the culture and influence the training of the next-generation workforce to fully meet the goals of MGI.