Department of Defense 5G Investment in Fiscal 2022

Published: December 08, 2021

Federal Market AnalysisUSAFARMYBudgetDEFENSEInformation TechnologyInternet of ThingsMobilityNAVYOSD

DOD’s planned investment in 5G technology is around $600M in requested budget for FY 2022.

Key Takeaways

  • DOD requested $600M for 5G prototype and testing efforts in FY 2022.
  • Fifth-Generation networking technology adoption efforts are all already underway, meaning that progress should not be significantly hindered by continuing resolutions.
  • The vast majority of 5G R&D efforts underway are being funded through the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Expanding the footprint of 5G networking technology is a strategic imperative for the Department of Defense. The department’s approach to 5G, however, has been halting with a focus on creating testbeds out of entire installations and using prototypes to prove solutions before fielding them. Legitimate concerns about security are at the heart of DOD’s measured adoption of 5G, and these will probably remain front and center over the next several years. Several organizations across the department are investing in both 5G deployment and R&D.

DOD 5G-Related Budgets, FY 2020-2022

The level of financial resources dedicated by the DOD to 5G-related work rose to over $400M in FY 2020, before rocketing higher by another $250M in the FY 2021 budget, and stabilizing around $600M the year thereafter. These figures come from Deltek’s identification of 5G-related investment in the DOD’s FY 2022 Procurement and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) budget requests.

The FY 2021 surge receded somewhat in the FY 2022 request, but by remaining around $600M it indicates that interest in and spending on 5G technology remains strong. The good news for those concerned about the possible impact of a year-long continuing resolution is that none of the programs underway are new, meaning that funding should continue to flow at FY 2021 levels and that none of the programs currently in flight will see a loss of funding experienced by new starts.

DOD 5G-Related Budgets by Organization

Foundational work on 5G is taking place across multiple DOD organizations, not just the larger efforts that appear in the trade media being undertaken by the U.S. Army and Air Force. This is reflected in the requested budgets by organization shown below.

By far and away, most of the budgetary resources requested for 5G fall under efforts being guided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Solutions developed by OSD are then socialized across the department as applicable.

Select DOD 5G Efforts

Here are a few of the largest programs by requested budgets being worked on in FY 2022.

Next Generation Information Communications Technology (5G) (OSD - $375M): The Department of Defense (DOD) Next Generation (NextG) Information Communications Technologies (ICT) program will conduct large-scale experimentation and prototyping of dual-use (military and commercial) fifth-generation (5G) cellular network technology for military uses. The program will develop and deploy 5G networks at DOD sites to evaluate and enhance 5G systems and technologies for CONUS and OCONUS DOD missions. FY 2022 plans continue Smart Warehouse prototyping and experimentation activities at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga., and Naval Base San Diego; and will continue AR/VR Mission Training prototyping and experimentation activities at Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Construction of localized full scale 5G mobile cellular networks will be completed and experimentation with autonomous warehouse operations and AR/VR mission training activities will be conducted. DOD will continue with the development of approximately five additional dual-use prototyping and experimentation projects at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, Naval Station Norfolk, Camp Pendleton, the National Training Center, and Joint Base San Antonio.

Emerging Capabilities Tech Development/Conceptual Prototyping to Support DOD Modernization Priorities (OSD - $58M): Supports the prototyping of cutting-edge land, sea, undersea, air, and space capabilities critical to the National Defense Strategy and modernization priorities and objectives of the department, including 5G. Six to twelve prototype efforts are anticipated.

Information Warfare Systems (Navy - $36M): This budget item funds R&D activities, including those leveraging 5G technology by delivering prototypes and testing services. FY 2022 funding will deliver prototype systems to support 5G countermeasures and expand prototype testing and evaluation.