The Department of Defense (DoD) has selected U.S.-based semiconductor giant Intel to diversify designs and increase onshore manufacturing of chips used in DoD electronics and IT systems.
The contract represents phase one in the Department’s Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes – Commercial (RAMP-C) program, intended to bolster U.S.-based commercial manufacturing facilities for chips, and ensure that the DoD has access to leading-edge technology. RAMP-C is one of three programs the Department established in recent years to support the chip supply chain.
Intel will design and manufacture assured integrated circuits as part of the RAMP-C program by establishing and demonstrating a semiconductor IP ecosystem to develop and fabricate test chips.
The contract comes amid news of a global chip shortage, which has many industries struggling to secure an essential element needed to develop their products. And while this shortage has yet to affect the DoD, as the Pentagon continues to modernize it’s expected to adopt new chip designs closely aligned with those in the broader commercial market.
To build back critical supply chains in the U.S., the Biden administration proposed $341 million for the defense budget in fiscal year 2022 to boost the defense industrial base and bring critical supply chains back to the U.S., including supply chains for microelectronics. Congress also set aside $52 billion for domestic research, innovation, and chip manufacturing as part of the Innovation and Competition Act. Moreover, the Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force released a report urging DoD to resolve supply chain vulnerabilities, including those around chipmaking.