ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Leaders and representatives from the U.S. Army's Science and Technology community promoted the Army's latest manufacturing technologies at this year's Defense Manufacturing Conference, held Dec. 2-5, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. As the nation's largest annual forum for defense manufacturing hosted by Universal Technology Company, the DMC unites business and technology leaders, policy makers, and managers, scientists and engineers from government, industry and academia to share information on manufacturing initiatives.

The theme of this year's conference was "Defense Manufacturing Focused for Warfighter Dominance," and Army leaders and representatives shared their perspectives on innovation and manufacturing technology by chairing or moderating five sessions and subpanels and providing 18 presentations on Army manufacturing accomplishments. Keynote topics emphasized the Army's modernization priorities and how the Army's Manufacturing Technology program, or ManTech, is developing and transitioning innovative technology to support the modernization effort. The ManTech program is executed by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command with oversight from the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.

More than 1,750 government, industry and academia representatives attended the DMC, with more than 150 exhibitors showcasing government and industry manufacturing initiatives. A newly rebranded ManTech booth highlighted the Army's modernization priorities and featured numerous display items manufactured using additive manufacturing techniques. Also on display were newly developed MetaFerrite materials used to manufacture low profile antennas, high-energy laser diodes, battery free initiators, thin-film GaAs solar cells, miniature robotic vehicles and more. The display items not only captured interest from researchers and engineers, but also future innovators.

Also featured at this year's conference was a demonstration by FIRST Robotics. Attendees were encouraged to meet "future colleagues and employees" and observe live demonstrations of student built robots. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international nonprofit organization founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, of Segway acclaim, to engage K-12 students in mentor-based research and robotics programs that help build 21st century work-life skills and inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. Data from a ten year study suggests that FIRST participants are twice as likely as their peers to major in science or engineering. Currently, more than 75 percent of FIRST alumni are studying or working in a STEM field. Several students visited the ManTech booth to learn more about the program and expressed interest in applying for internships with various CCDC research and development centers.

During the opening session, Director for Integration, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, and chair of the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology panel, Julie Locker, shared her perspectives on the future direction of the JDMTP and the Army ManTech program.

Two of the 2019 Defense ManTech Achievement Awards were awarded to the CCDC Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center. Rob Gold, director of Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering's Office of Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation, presented the Enhancing Military Capability award for "12um Pixel High-Definition Uncooled Longwave Infrared" and the Cost Reduction/Rate or Safety Improvement award for "III-V Dual-Band Infrared Focal Plane Arrays" to CCDC C5ISR.

The 12um Pixel High-Definition Uncooled Longwave Infrared ManTech project strengthened the industrial base by providing high-quality sensor sources for the Army. The project reduced costs and increased performance capabilities including more than doubling the range and field of view while meeting size, weight, power and cost requirements. The team included three industry partners -- BAE Systems Inc., Leonardo DRS and Raytheon Vision systems. This ManTech effort directly supports PEO Soldier's Family of Weapon Sights -- Crew Served program by providing high-quality, high-definition sensors and reducing the camera core cost by four times its initial production cost.

The Army ManTech III-V Dual-Band Infrared Focal Plane Arrays project improved production readiness of III-V strained layer superlattice dual-band high-definition mid-wavelength/long-wavelength infrared focal plane arrays for the 3rd Generation Forward Looking Infrared B-Kit, which are used on M1 Abrams tanks. The project established manufacturing capabilities for low-cost infrared focal plane arrays, meeting and in many cases, exceeding Army goals established for the effort. In addition to lowering costs, this project will increase production for other projects, including reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition, navigation and infrared search and track upgrades on various sensor payloads.

To foster future industry and academia participation, the ManTech program held an outreach session, which began with an overview by Locker on ManTech's program strategy. ManTech subject matter experts from eight Army research and development organizations provided one-on-one meetings between industry representatives and government technical leads to briefly discuss industry capabilities needed to meet the Army's modernization priorities.

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The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), formerly known as the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), has the mission to lead in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. The command collaborates across the Future Force Modernization Enterprise and its own global network of domestic and international partners in academia, industry and other government agencies to accomplish this mission. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.