US military seeking cutting-edge technologies - Defense Dept.

Some fields the US has a keen interest in are biotech, quantum computing, advanced materials, 5G, AI, space, microelectronics manufacturing and hypersonic missiles.

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted drone aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, US, June 25, 2015. (photo credit: US AIR FORCE/SENIOR AIRMAN CORY D. PAYNE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted drone aircraft performs aerial maneuvers over Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, US, June 25, 2015.
(photo credit: US AIR FORCE/SENIOR AIRMAN CORY D. PAYNE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The United States Department of Defense is seeking new technologies that will give US forces the edge in future combat situations, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu said on Tuesday at a McAleese defense conference.

As the US' top rivals Russia and China invest increasingly in the fields of cyber, space, nuclear, artificial intelligence and hypersonics, there is a critical need for a better-equipped US military with the most advanced equipment and training in the world.

Shyu emphasized that this is especially true as US adversaries gain greater access to cutting-edge technologies.

"We cannot afford a leveling of technology advantage," she said. "It is imperative for the department to nurture early research in emerging technologies to prevent technological surprise. We must leverage critical state-of-the-art commercial technology where rapid advancements are trying to accelerate our military capabilities."

Shyu said the way the US can ensure it maintains its technological edge is by heavily investing in education and R&D, specifically federal and university research centers, the defense sector and US allies.

 Military vehicles carrying hypersonic missiles DF-17 travel past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JASON LEE) Military vehicles carrying hypersonic missiles DF-17 travel past Tiananmen Square during the military parade marking the 70th founding anniversary of People's Republic of China, on its National Day in Beijing, China October 1, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/JASON LEE)

The US' best bet, Shyu noted, is teamwork: "Working together, we can solve the toughest challenges much more rapidly," she said.

Some technologies the department has a particular interest in acquiring include: biotech to detect and avoid future pandemics, quantum computing capabilities to solve analytical problems as quickly and precisely as possible, light, temperature-resistant armor, 5G communications technology, secure AI for unmanned vehicles, space architecture, domestic microelectronics manufacturing, hypersonic missiles and more.