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Army Manufacturing Technology Program Responds to 21st Century Challenges

Robert S. Rohde

Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology

The Army Manufacturing Technology (MANTECH) Program has seen dramatic changes in project selection and technical direction since oversight responsibility was transferred to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA(R&T)) in the mid-1990s. Today, the Army’s transformation path to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and the Objective Force necessitates another shift in how Army MANTECH operates. That shift involves a strategic, top-down approach for defining MANTECH requirements as opposed to the bottom-up methodology used in the past.

The bottom-up methodology was adopted in August 1997 in response to congressional concerns of insufficient investment levels and Office of the Secretary of Defense Technology Area Review and Assessment guidance to focus on larger, higher impact projects. This substantially modified the approach and priorities of the MANTECH Program.1 Today’s accelerated pace of Army transformation requires the science and technology (S&T) base to transition technology with sufficient performance maturity for the program manager (PM) to enter into system development and demonstration with low to medium risk. The S&T response to the Army’s accelerated transformation now requires a top-down identification of MANTECH projects to enable the affordable transition of critical technologies into FCS. This change is driven from the very top of the Army, and the Army S&T leadership is responding accordingly and forthrightly.

ADDRESSING RISKS

In addition to performance, several other factors must be taken into consideration. While a single demonstrator can achieve the performance required by the user, the PM is faced with delivery of multiple units on a timely basis at an affordable cost. Therefore, there is further inherent risk in manufacturing that must be addressed if the technology is to be successfully transitioned to the FCS PM and enter into systems development and demonstration. This requirement has led to a new feature of the revised Army program that is unique in the Services—that is, to meld, where appropriate, both exploratory and advanced development (6.2/6.3) funding with MANTECH (6.7) funding in a single project. Combining these resources enables achievement of both performance goals, as defined by the descriptors relating to manufacturing (Table 20-1). This ensures that technology development achieves the user’s needs, is mature enough to meet the PM’s needs, and is manufacturable and affordable in the

NOTE: Reprinted, with permission, from Army AL&T Magazine, May-June 2003, pp. 30-32.

1  

See “A New Approach to the Army Manufacturing Technology Program,” Army RD&A magazine, May-June 1998 and “Army MANTECH Community Recognized at Defense Manufacturing Conference 2001,” Army AL&T magazine, March-April 2002.



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New Directions in Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop 20 Army Manufacturing Technology Program Responds to 21st Century Challenges Robert S. Rohde Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology The Army Manufacturing Technology (MANTECH) Program has seen dramatic changes in project selection and technical direction since oversight responsibility was transferred to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology (DASA(R&T)) in the mid-1990s. Today, the Army’s transformation path to the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and the Objective Force necessitates another shift in how Army MANTECH operates. That shift involves a strategic, top-down approach for defining MANTECH requirements as opposed to the bottom-up methodology used in the past. The bottom-up methodology was adopted in August 1997 in response to congressional concerns of insufficient investment levels and Office of the Secretary of Defense Technology Area Review and Assessment guidance to focus on larger, higher impact projects. This substantially modified the approach and priorities of the MANTECH Program.1 Today’s accelerated pace of Army transformation requires the science and technology (S&T) base to transition technology with sufficient performance maturity for the program manager (PM) to enter into system development and demonstration with low to medium risk. The S&T response to the Army’s accelerated transformation now requires a top-down identification of MANTECH projects to enable the affordable transition of critical technologies into FCS. This change is driven from the very top of the Army, and the Army S&T leadership is responding accordingly and forthrightly. ADDRESSING RISKS In addition to performance, several other factors must be taken into consideration. While a single demonstrator can achieve the performance required by the user, the PM is faced with delivery of multiple units on a timely basis at an affordable cost. Therefore, there is further inherent risk in manufacturing that must be addressed if the technology is to be successfully transitioned to the FCS PM and enter into systems development and demonstration. This requirement has led to a new feature of the revised Army program that is unique in the Services—that is, to meld, where appropriate, both exploratory and advanced development (6.2/6.3) funding with MANTECH (6.7) funding in a single project. Combining these resources enables achievement of both performance goals, as defined by the descriptors relating to manufacturing (Table 20-1). This ensures that technology development achieves the user’s needs, is mature enough to meet the PM’s needs, and is manufacturable and affordable in the NOTE: Reprinted, with permission, from Army AL&T Magazine, May-June 2003, pp. 30-32. 1   See “A New Approach to the Army Manufacturing Technology Program,” Army RD&A magazine, May-June 1998 and “Army MANTECH Community Recognized at Defense Manufacturing Conference 2001,” Army AL&T magazine, March-April 2002.

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New Directions in Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop TABLE 20-1 Proposed Manufacturing Descriptors to Be Added to Technology Readiness Levels TRL Manufacturing Maturity Expectation 3 Analyses identify process needs for breadboard system, including development targets for new subprocesses. 4 Key subprocesses demonstrated in lab. Cost as an independent variable targets established. 5 Trade studies and lab experiments define a manufacturing concept and sigma levels needed to meet CAIV targets. 6 Critical manufacturing processes prototyped; targets for improved yield established. 7 Prototype system built on soft tooling; initial sigma levels established. 8 Critical subprocesses demonstrate acceptable yield for pilot line. 9 Pilot line operating at desired initial sigma level. quantities required to meet fielding goals and timeliness. This approach has also required that the research and development and product engineering communities merge. ASSESSMENT PANEL To validate the identification of the most critical areas of investment, the DASA(R&T)/Army Chief Scientist, A. Michael Andrews II, commissioned a blue-ribbon Independent Assessment Panel through the National Center for Advanced Technologies. The panel identified and evaluated the manufacturing technologies necessary for affordable manufacturing and fielding of the Army’s Future Combat Systems and other components to the Objective Force. Herm M. Reininga, Vice President of Operations, Rockwell Collins, Inc., chaired the panel. The panel made the following suggestions: Incorporate manufacturing and affordability issues in advanced concept technology demonstrations (ACTDs), advanced technology demonstrations (ATDs), and other technology development programs; Exploit Integrated Product and Process Development in Army and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) technology development programs; and Use manufacturing readiness level descriptors, similar to the currently employed technology readiness levels. The panel also identified the following issues specific to the FCS program: Advanced technologies likely to be critical to the FCS program, Capability gaps in the Army’s MANTECH Program with regard to those critical technologies, An estimate of the funding needed to close the MANTECH capability gaps in a time frame that was likely to meet the current schedule for FCS development (structured within specific technologies and technology areas), and Recognition of the strong relationship between overall FCS Program risk and manufacturing technology resources needed for the FCS Program.

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New Directions in Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop The panel made two recommendations. First, existing requirements, including affordability considerations (especially manufacturing) in Service/DARPA, ACTD, and ATD programs, should be enhanced and enforced. Second, ATD and ACTD manufacturing technology issues should be identified so that they can be effectively addressed, either within the ATD/ACTD or by a separate, coordinated, and focused MANTECH effort. The panel’s final report stated, “The collective experience of the members of the Independent Assessment Panel clearly indicate that the resources (time and funding) devoted to these efforts will be paid back manyfold both during the development of the system (e.g., reduced probability of schedule delays and financial overruns) and especially during their service lives.”2 As a result of this study, the DASA(R&T) initiated major changes to the Army’s MANTECH Program. In the project selection process developed in 1997, Army Materiel Command labs and research, development, and engineering centers provided proposals for MANTECH projects in concert with PMs. Therefore, the Army was not anticipating systemic manufacturing problems that were surfacing either during the engineering and manufacturing development phase, production, or postproduction. The new approach resulting from the NCAT study focuses the MANTECH Program on earlier phases of development prior to handoff of technology to the PM. The new strategy concentrates the Army MANTECH investments in the following areas. These areas correspond to top priorities recommended by the NCAT panel. The Army is pursuing these technologies within the funded program. Sensors Low-cost, uncooled infrared sensors are of paramount importance because of their many uses in seekers and other weapons, target detection and recognition, surveillance, robotic operations, dismounted operations, etc. The Army investment is in cooled dual-band focal plane arrays. Laser pumping sources are required for solid-state lasers given the applications for solid-state laser radars and high-energy lasers. The Army investment is in laser diode arrays. Electronics and Power Systems Pulse power for advanced protection systems and weapons is a critical need for FCS and the Objective Force. Commercially available high-voltage, fast-rise-time capacitors are too large and heavy for Army applications. The Army investment will be in high energy density capacitors. Compact energy and power storage systems are required for hybrid platforms and for advanced protection systems and weapons. The Army investment will be in very high power lithium-ion batteries. Pulse power and compact power electronics for advanced vehicles, weapons, and protection systems also require the ability to switch high currents in high-voltage circuitry. The Army investment in this area is in silicon carbide switches. The Army requires high-data-rate, on-the-move communications to meet the transformation goals of a lighter, faster, more lethal force. Affordable phase arrays provide the means to achieve these requirements. The Army investment is in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), electronically scanned array antennas, and ferroelectric phase shifters for affordable phase arrays. The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) is aimed at developing lightweight, low power, network-centric tactical communications. The Army investment is in wearable software-defined radios that meet size, weight, and power requirements through modularization and the implementation of high-density packaging for embedded applications. Display technology is 2   Report of the Army Mantech Assessment Panel. 2002. Available at http://www.affordability.org/armymt/index.html. Accessed March 2004.

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New Directions in Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop particularly important for receiving and visualizing the information now available to the individual soldier. The Army investment is in flexible display technologies (transparent conductive and emissive materials) for soldier applications. Armor Affordable, lightweight armor for lightweight combat platforms is a critical issue for FCS and the Objective Force. The Army investment in this area is low-cost composites and high-performance appliqué armor. Signature management and low-observable technologies in all bands of interest are, in the words of the independent assessment panel, “likely to be critical to the success of the FCS Program.” The Army investment is in low-observable materials and structures. Munitions The accuracy of cannon-launched projectiles as well as advanced missiles can be significantly improved by the use of advanced guidance systems coupled to global positioning technology. The Army investment is in low-cost, high-g-force, high-accuracy MEMS-based inertial measurement units. This was the first program to also combine both S&T development funding with MANTECH funding. Current funding is not adequate to cover all of the NCAT panel recommendations, but the Army’s MANTECH Program has responded within budget guidance. Manufacturing programs that are currently on the Band 1 Unfunded Requirement List include low-cost uncooled infrared focal planes, conformal optics, 3-D laser radar, energetics (propellants and explosives), durable barrel materials, and MEMS for safety, arm, and fuzing. CONCLUSION What should be the appropriate level of funding per year necessary for MANTECH to properly address FCS and the Objective Force? There are two sources of guidance available to us. During the development of the “Big Five” weapon systems in the 1970s and the early 1980s, the Army’s MANTECH investment peaked near $200 million per year and was consistently more than $150 million per year for a number of years, declining sharply in the mid- to late-1980s. The NCAT panel also provided us an estimate for funding both Level I and Level II projects of $164 million per year. In the FY04 budget, MANTECH is funded at $66 million, about 40 percent of the NCAT estimate. Finally, it is important to recognize that MANTECH is an investment for which there is a savings in production cost. There have been a number of studies over the years attempting to quantify this number. Our best estimates, both from industry and government studies, suggest a 10-to-1 average return on investment. In the 1990s, $48 million MANTECH investment in Javelin focal planes resulted in estimated savings of $364 million. Before MANTECH, the unit cost was greater than or equal to $50,000 per unit; after MANTECH it is less than or equal to $5,000 per unit (21,000 units). Clearly there are potentially significant savings in production cost through strategic MANTECH investments.