Critical materials made from flowers, heat exchangers that help keep military assets on station for longer, and environmentally friendly explosives that help keep American troops safe were among the military technologies Pentagon officials saw at the third annual Defense Department Manufacturing Technology Program Pentagon Day exhibition on June 4, 2024.

The event featured advanced manufacturing technology projects the ManTech program is accelerating to bolster the DOD’s capabilities to deter and defeat adversaries.  

The program is made up of investment programs operated by the Air Force, Army, Navy, Defense Logistics Agency and Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

In addition to seeing firsthand the technologies, attendees also learned about ManTech’s mission — to keep service members safe and ensure the DOD can deter and defeat ambitious adversaries through the maturation of technologies that support the Joint Force’s needs, in both tactical and operational settings.   

All three OSD ManTech investment portfolios — Manufacturing Science and Technology Program, DOD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes and Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development Program — took part in the event alongside the military services and the defense agency ManTech programs that make up the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel. 

“The ManTech program is crucial for scaling up technologies from lab innovations to real-world military applications,” said Tracy Frost, ManTech’s program director. “Our mission is to reduce the acquisition and supportability costs of defense systems and shorten manufacturing and repair cycle times.” 

This year’s event highlighted how the program supports agility and rapid modernization capabilities to support long-term strategic advancements and urgent modernization projects. 

Leaders from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, including Heidi Shyu, the OUSD(R&E), and Aprille Ericsson, the assistant secretary of defense for science and technology, toured the exhibits alongside Frost and other ManTech leaders.  

Featured exhibits included a heat exchanger from MII America Makes that uses additive manufacturing to improve cooling efficiency and design flexibility in military engine components, which helps extend operational time for vehicles and other assets. Another item was a rocket nozzle developed through new additive technologies and specialized materials that provides supply-chain flexibility.  

BioMADE featured rubber made from dandelions, which promises to increase sustainability and decrease carbon emissions in addition to reliance on imports. 

“The MIIs are public-private partnerships that support various technology domains, such as additive manufacturing and photonics,” said Frost. “By uniting public, private, and academic players, we can move faster and more efficiently to benefit the U.S. military.” 

Other technologies on display included the JDMTP’s 6T battery technology — an Army ManTech innovation — that revolutionizes ground vehicle energy systems with improved reliability, lifespan and performance of lithium batteries. The Army ManTech team also displayed DBX1 Green Energetics, an environmentally friendly explosive that enhances safety and performance in military ordnance.  

Shyu, whose priorities as the Pentagon’s chief technology officer include creating an ecosystem in which members can work together to create integrated defense capabilities, said bringing together innovators to showcase their work was especially critical for leaders to understand the opportunities available in the department.  

“We can’t go it alone,” she said. “The innovations I saw showed the depth and breadth the department needs to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow. DOD ManTech’s ability to bring so many experts across the multiple domains together to work as a team is just exactly what keeps America safe and our domestic manufacturing base more dynamic.” 

For more information on the capabilities featured, see the attached DOD ManTech Pentagon Demos PDF.

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