Oct. 15 (UPI) -- The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has awarded more than $197 million in contracts for microelectronics development.
"The microelectronics industry is at the root of our nation's economic strength, national security, and technological standing. Today's awards support the Department's mission to promote microelectronics supply chain security and accelerate U.S. development of the very best in circuit design, manufacturing, and packaging. It's critical for the DOD and American industry to work together in meaningful partnerships to ensure the United States leads the world in microelectronics far into the future," said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in a Defense Department press release.
The funding will be used to support artificial intelligence, 5G communications, quantum computing and autonomous vehicles and will be distributed through two different programs.
The first is the Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes (RAMP) using Advanced Commercial Capabilities Project Phase 1 Other Transaction Award, which total $24.5 million and will be awarded to Microsoft and IBM to develop commercial microelectronics' "back-end" design methods with measurable security.
The second program, the State-of-the-Art Heterogeneous Integration Prototype (SHIP) Program Phase 2 Other Transaction Award, totals $172.7 million, which will be awarded to Intel Federal and Qorvo.
The Phase 2 funds will be used to develop a newer approach toward measurably secure, heterogeneous integration and test of advanced packaging solutions.
In its press release the Pentagon described the awards as "a departure from the previous model of security that severely limited our ability to work with leading-edge firms, and demonstrates the Department's forward-looking approach to promoting security."
In August, Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said the U.S. government must entice companies to do more microelectronics manufacturing in the United States.
She said the fact that most microelectronics are manufactured overseas presents a security risk, since officials could not be certain "backdoors, malicious code or data exfiltration commands" aren't embedded in the products' code.