In spite of nearly five years of unprecedented budg- et streamlining, sweeping organizational shifts inside the Department of Defense (DoD) and a
volatile geopolitical climate, the Naval Research and
Development Establishment (NRDE) has managed to
keep a steady hand on future naval capability, according to DoD leadership.
Furthermore, what remains upmost, and at the
heart of critically important research and development
(R&D) across DoD, is discovery — or the pure science
and technology that leads to future concepts — hand
in hand with the talented scientists behind that R&D.
“There is a lot going on,” said Dr. John Burrow,
deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Research,
Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E). “But there
are also fairly consistent things that we are dealing with.
As a lot of this stuff kind of works its way through, our
focus is on future naval capability. There are certainly
priorities that are in the near term, relatively speaking,
and then there are things that we are trying to discover
that eventually will enable long-
term naval capability.”
Navy priorities have been clear
for several years now, Burrow said.
Some of the technologies, now
known to the public, include
autonomous and unmanned sys-
tems, advanced cyber security and
energy. Recent research also has led
to a prototype for an electromag-
netic railgun that eliminates
reliance on gunpowder.
“We have great technical institutions in the naval warfare centers
and systems centers throughout
the country,” Burrow said. “Those
[centers] have specific missions
and specific technical areas for
which they are responsible. That is
the community. Those are the tech-
nical experts, the scientists and the engineers. Those
commands have the facilities and the ranges and the
laboratories that really develop — and discover at
times — our future capabilities. The R&D investments
help to mature those to work with the operational
community to understand how they would be devel-
oped and support future concepts and needs.”
Indeed, the United States still leads the world in
research, having spent in $465 billion — or 30 percent of
all the money spent globally — on R&D in 2014, accord-
ing to Ian Bremmer, author of the recent book
“Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the
World.” This investment, he said, underscores the fact that
R&D is a crucial source of future strength for the nation.
“Basic R&D is kind of like sunshine. We can never
get too much of it,” said retired ADM James Stavridis,
dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at
Tufts University, who recently joined the Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a
senior fellow. “It is so fundamental to our growth. I
Eyes Wide Open
Unmanned systems, energy, cyber among priorities
in Naval Research and Development Establishment
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent
Science of Discovery
The United States leads the world in research, having spent in $465
billion — or 30 percent of all the money spent globally — on research
and development in 2014, said Ian Bremmer, author of “
Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World.”
■ The laboratories and research centers under DoD comprise
38,000 scientists and engineers at more than 60 labs across 22
states, not including international programs and centers.
■ The Naval Research and Development Establishment represents
a community of about 14 laboratories and centers across the United
States, in addition to research organizations around the world.
■ The Office of Naval Research collaborates with and provides
funding to the naval research community, universities and industry,
and forges partnerships with other global research organizations.