Planned DOD Quantum Information Sciences Investment

Published: February 09, 2022

Federal Market AnalysisARMYBig DataBudgetDEFENSEForecasts and SpendingInformation TechnologyNAVYResearch and Development

Defense budget requests for quantum computing-related projects have been rising.

Key Takeaways

  • Requested budgets for quantum-related programs rose 37% from FY 2020 to 2022.
  • Navy invests more in quantum science than any other part of the DOD.
  • Defense organizations are likely to award contracts for quantum-related work via Other Transaction Authority.

At the beginning of February Heidi Shyu, the Department of Defense’s Undersecretary for Research and Engineering and Chief Technology Officer, published a brief 6-page memo outlining the organization’s Technology Vision for an Era of Competition. The memorandum points out several areas of investment for the DOD and offers insight into the forthcoming revision of the National Defense Strategy that was originally released in 2018.

One area of technology investment listed by CTO Shyu is Quantum Science. For those unfamiliar with QS it is “the study of physical properties at small, even atomic, scales [and] Defense applications include atomic clocks, quantum sensors, quantum computing, and quantum networks.” The DOD is interested in  QS because it “promises to enable leap-ahead capabilities … [to] provide unprecedented computational speeds and help solve the Department's hardest analytical problems. Quantum sensors promise the ability to provide unprecedented accuracy in position, navigation, and timing. From more accurate information to faster decision making, to significantly stronger encryption capabilities, quantum science has the promise to deliver cutting-edge technology.”

Defense Quantum Sciences Investment by Fiscal Year

Based on Shyu’s memo, one could be forgiven for thinking that the DOD doesn’t already invest in QS. It does, however, and as the chart below shows, the budgets requested for that investment have been growing over the last several years. The requested budget for QS in FY 2022, in fact, is 37% higher than in FY 2020. These figures come from an analysis of the DOD’s Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) and Procurement budget requests for FY 2022.

FY 2022 Defense Quantum Sciences Investment by Organization

Once an FY 2022 DOD budget is approved, where will the money for QS be going? The following chart breaks down the FY 2022 QS-related budget request by defense organization.

Navy leads the DOD by a wide margine in planned QS investment, just as it has led in actual QS investment since FY 2020. More than $60M of the Navy’s requested QS budget goes to its Mathematics, Computer, and Information Sciences program. Through that program the Navy plans to investigate the following aspects of QS:

  • Complete quantum communication research as it applies to secure key generation.
  • Complete research into the interconversion of optical and microwave quantum states for memory and information processing tasks.
  • Continue research into the application of on-chip optical processing with distributed quantum states of light for suppressing noise for measurement and communication devices.
  • Initiate research into efficient protocols for implementing quantum information processing.
  • Initiate research into quantum approaches to solve hard decision problems.

Other noteworthy QS-related programs and requested FY 2022 budgets include the following:

Defense Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE) ($43M) Operational Test Activities and Analyses (OTA&A).

  • Continue threat intelligence investigations that support use of innovative technologies in the areas of AI, autonomy, robotics, ML, and quantum computing.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) ($36M) Math and Computer Sciences/Alternative Computing.

  • Demonstrate the use of a near term quantum computer for the optimization of complex systems.
  • Perform benchmarking of quantum processor performance against the best classical system.
  • Initiate efforts to create new hardware agnostic benchmarks for quantum information processing performance that quantitatively measure progress toward specific, transformational computational challenges.
  • Initiate development of scalable testing techniques for measuring progress in quantum information processing toward addressing specific, transformational computational challenges.

Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) ($29M) Quantum Information Science Technology Innovation.

  • Develop Next Generation DOD Atomic Clock
  • Prototype Quantum Inertial Measurement Unit Experiment
  • Prototype Optical Clock
  • Increase quantum computing cloud access for medium and small businesses
  • Fund innovative interagency efforts for the Washington Metro Quantum Network Research Consortium

Summing up, QS investment is set to grow across all of the DOD’s various military departments and agencies. A high percentage of any new funding received will undoubtedly go to prototype efforts developed using Other Transaction Authority agreements so industry partners should investigate working with non-traditional firms doing QS-related work in anticipation of solicitations that may appear.