President Biden’s proposed $842 billion fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget request for the Department of Defense (DoD) includes the largest-ever research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding at $145 billion, and $13.5 billion for cyberspace-related activity.

According to the budget request, DoD’s RDT&E FY 2024 budget request represents a four percent increase from FY23 levels. For the last few years, DoD’s RDT&E budget request has been on the rise – in 2023, the department requested $130.1 billion in funding, a 9.5 percent increase over FY2022.

The DoD has not yet disclosed how much of the RDT&E funding will go into which specific programs, but it did highlight a few key individual initiatives the RDT&E request will fund. For “science and technology” efforts the DoD revealed that it’s requesting about $17.8 billion – with about $9.3 billion for advanced technology and $2.5 billion for basic research.

To support DoD efforts to deliver and adopt responsible artificial intelligence, the department is asking for $1.8 billion. This funding, according to the budget, would enable capabilities on secure and reliable platforms, workforce development, and DoD-wide data management and modernization efforts.

For efforts aimed at addressing capability gaps and emerging technologies, the Pentagon is asking for $687.0 million, which will be allocated to the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER), which experiments with and evaluates advanced technologies to deliver ready capabilities that advance the Joint Warfighting Concept.

In addition, the DoD wants $115 million for the department’s newly established Office of Strategic Capital – established in late 2022 to enable the DoD to attract and scale private capital in the most critical technologies. The OSC is looking at ways to increase capital flows and market participation in “deep” technology areas like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and quantum computing.

This funding would also incentivize investments through loan and loan guarantee programs that lower the cost to private capital investors and increase the flow of investments.

The DoD’s FY2024 budget request also proposes $1.4 billion for the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program to transform warfighting capability by delivering information advantage at the speed of relevance across all domains and partners. However, because each service has a JADC2-aligned initiative, it’s unclear exactly how that funding will be used.

DoD Cyberspace FY 2024 Budget Proposal

The DoD is asking for $13.5 billion in the FY 2024 budget for cyberspace activities, an increase from $11.2 billion in FY 2023. According to the budget request, the funding will go toward things like hardening DoD networks, increasing cybersecurity support for contractors, and operationalizing zero trust architecture.

One of the major efforts the DoD put forward in the budget is accelerating the transition to zero trust as the next-generation cybersecurity architecture across the department. The Pentagon late last year released its long-anticipated zero trust strategy, which outlined an ambitious plan to reach a “targeted” level of zero trust across the department by FY 2027.

In addition, to operationalizing a zero trust framework, the $13.5 billion cybersecurity request will also fund five additional Cyber Mission Force Teams for U.S. Cyber Command, bringing the total to 147 teams. It will also go toward advancing the Pentagon’s next-generation encryption solutions development and integration.

The budget request also includes $5.1 billion to increase cybersecurity support to the defense industrial base through the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program and investments in supply chain risk collection and management.

“The budget invests in improving the fuel efficiency of DoD operational platforms, enhancing capability, mitigating logistics risk, and making our forces more agile and survivable in this complex and changing environment,” the budget states.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.