Defense officials hinted at positive developments by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with quantum information science work at a Senate hearing today, and told senators that the agency is kicking off its Innovation Steering Group under Defense Department (DoD) Secretary Kathleen Hicks to improve adoption of new technologies for DoD agencies.

During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on DoD Innovation and Research, Barbara McQuiston – who is performing the duties of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering – said that DoD components could exceed the capabilities of competitors by employing a range of new technologies.

“What we’re doing in innovation is looking across the DoD as transforming a lot of the processes in order to be better adopters of technology and to more efficiently and rapidly modernize,” said McQuiston. “Our services have the burden sometimes of having the legacy systems, and the newer technologies and disruptive technologies coming on board.”

In addition to innovation efforts, McQuiston said that much of the future of network technology and security will rely on quantum computing and artificial intelligence. She indicated she might tell lawmakers more about that in a closed-door hearing.

“DARPA, I know has had initiatives in [quantum], I’m happy to say that a lot of them are starting to see commercialization as well,” said McQuiston. “So, I think our investment in that area is starting to pay off and I think you will actually see more activity on there.”

Other technologies under development by DARPA with broader appeal outside of DoD include 5G tech, said Dr. Stefanie Tompkins, DARPA’s director, during today’s hearing. Tompkins addressed DARPA’s Open, Programmable, Secure 5G (OPS-5G) which she said “basically seeks to create an open source, 5G capability, which would open up both from a military perspective, and also ultimately from commercial economic perspective.”

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.