C5ISR Center computer scientist Zach Kjellberg (standing) and electronics engineer John Tangradi conduct research on PNT systems at Aberdeen Proving Ground in October 2019.
C5ISR Center computer scientist Zach Kjellberg (standing) and electronics engineer John Tangradi conduct research on PNT systems at Aberdeen Proving Ground in October 2019. (Photo Credit: Dan Lafontaine, C5ISR Center Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

While cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) are not new, they are becoming increasingly important as the Army Futures Command (AFC) seeks to build stronger relationships with industry to develop next-generation technologies.

“We cannot do the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of our job without industry partners,” said Chuck Hoppe, the associate director for science, technology, and engineering for the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – a component of AFC’s Combat Capabilities Development Command. Hoppe, speaking at a March 10 virtual AFCEA event, identified CRADAs one of the key components of the Army’s success in delivering new capability to the Warfighter.

CRADAS are written agreements between one or more federal laboratories and one or more non-federal parties. In this agreement, the Army provides personnel, facilities, equipment or other resources — with or without reimbursement — to identify and develop technologies to meet the government’s needs. To facilitate that, industry partners receive very specific information about the threat environment.

While the exact details of the Army-industry relationship vary according to the specific agreement, this mutually beneficial relationship allows the Army to gain greater awareness of industry technologies and examine how it can help solve capability gaps.

The development of a CRADA begins with identifying a specific need that would strengthen the Soldier’s capabilities, then noting potential industry technologies that could fulfill that need. A statement of work is developed, specifying the different roles of the government and industry in the relationship and the desired outcome of the cooperative research.

Defining those goals is the most labor-intensive part of developing a CRADA and the most important, according to Hoppe.

“Industry partners can expect a clear purpose and briefings on a real problem. We agree on the project, what the deliverables are, if any, and the timeframe for the project,” Hoppe said.

Once the agreement is established, if the agreement includes classified work, the Army can brief industry members on the specifics of the threats and the various environments the Soldier faces. Army personnel are able to share their expertise in how the Soldier’s technology and capabilities work, as well as the Soldier’s specific needs. The CRADA partnership is a win/win situation for both parties.

“We want to push state-of-the-art technology into the Soldier’s hands,” Hoppe told the AFCEA virtual audience.

Hoppe identified the Army’s upcoming Multi-Domain Operations Live 21 as a prime opportunity for the development of future CRADAs with the C5ISR Center. MDO Live is a C5ISR Center field-based risk reduction activity focused on exercising new technologies in support of the Multi-Domain Task Force and operational threads that are unique to multi-domain operations.

Hoppe reiterated that CRADA’s are only one mechanism to work with the Center and that they are, by their definition, cooperative and research oriented. The C5ISR Center currently has 107 active CRADAs with industry and universities.

For more information about CRADAs and how to partner with the Center, please visit the C5ISR Business Opportunities website.


The C5ISR Center is the Army’s applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army’s primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.

The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads 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. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

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