NRL wins DoD competition for three-year, $45M applied research program

NRL wins DoD competition for three-year, $45M applied research program

May 5, 2021

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has won the 2021 Applied Research for Advancement of S&T Priorities (ARAP) Program Award Competition for its Surface Morphing and Adaptive Structures for Hypersonics (SMASH) applied research program.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Science and Technology Executive Committee (S&T ExCom), coordinated by the Office of the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), announced the winner on April 28.

“After careful deliberation by the S&T ExCom, I am delighted to announce that we have selected ‘Surface Morphing and Adaptive Structures for Hypersonics (SMASH)’ for this year’s ARAP Award,” said Dr. JihFen Lei, Principal Deputy and Acting Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology, and S&T ExCom Chair. “We look forward to following the progress and accomplishments of the SMASH effort leading into successful technology transition.”

The NRL Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST) submitted the winning SMASH proposal. The SMASH applied research program will advance and improve hypersonic systems’ performance, lethality, and durability by implementing adaptive geometry and smooth, flexible surfaces to enable superior lift, maneuverability, and efficiency over conventional “rigid” boost-glide missiles, air-breathing cruise systems, and interceptors.

NRL will lead a DoD research team that includes the Air Force Research Laboratory, Army Research Laboratory, and the Missile Defense Agency, as well as 20 academic partners that are integrated with these labs. This three-year, $45M program will support approximately 80 federal scientists and engineers across these agencies as they seek to develop the necessary materials, systems, and tools to increase hypersonic range, platform capacity, lethality, and maneuverability. Additionally, the program will support at least 20 new graduate students who participate through the agencies’ academic partners. The program will leverage the combined expertise and assets of the entire DoD research enterprise to establish and maintain a technological edge for the Warfighter in both the offensive and defensive use of hypersonic weapon systems.

In total, the S&T ExCom received 17 submissions for this year’s award competition and selected three teams as finalists. Each finalist team briefed the ExCom on their proposal. “We appreciate the initiative, originality and collaborative effort that each team displayed in developing a high quality proposal, especially during the pandemic,” Lei said.

To participate in the yearly ARAP Award Competition, DoD programs or offices submit proposals for research areas that meet specific criteria. Some of the criteria that proposed research areas must meet include being eligible for applied research (BA-2) funding; addressing a specific technology or capability gap; enhancing collaboration across DoD and the Services; presenting a realistic program management plan; and demonstrating a clear pathway from research to product fielding.

Read more: