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News | June 23, 2021

DoD Expands the Aperture on Precision Optics

Defense systems currently in development, such as directed energy weapons and hypersonic missiles, are often limited by today’s manufacturing capabilities and require new optics manufacturing processes.  The development of advanced cutting-edge optics design and manufacturing technology will produce superior systems that enhance the warfighter’s combat capabilities while also requiring a more technically-advanced and skilled workforce. This project will couple precision optics workforce and technology development initiatives to enable the workforce to keep pace with technology advancements.

 “Precision optics technology can be found in nearly every advanced weapon system. Focused investment in our industrial base is essential to maintain a leadership position in this critical capability,” said Mr. Jesse Salazar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. “We applaud AmeriCOM’s vision for this partnership and look forward to valuable outcomes.”

As part of the IBAS Program’s National Imperative for Industrial Skills (“Skills Imperative”) initiative, this pilot project operates as a public-private partnership and includes the precision optics industry, academia, regional workforce and trade organizations, and government entities.

Jeff Ruckman, President & CEO of AmeriCOM stated, "The DoD Office of Industrial Policy recognizes that the nation's precision optics industry depends upon advanced, innovative manufacturing technologies and the technical talent to use those technologies for competitive advantage. The AmeriCOM collaboration with the DoD will assure that the two critical elements of the defense precision optics supply chain, talent and technology, continue to provide the DoD with that advantage."

Ultimately, the project’s goal is to establish a vibrant, capable and sufficient precision optics industrial ecosystem in the United States that includes leading-edge technology development and a healthy manufacturing workforce to transition this technology to production. The workforce component will support high schools’ and community colleges’ efforts to implement new precision optics curricula, while building out a nationwide network of technician workforce development capabilities.  The pilot plans to achieve 800 new technicians entering the workforce annually to replace retiring workers and to implement new manufacturing processes.

“Developing the precision optics workforce in concert with new product and manufacturing technologies will ensure a smooth transition of mission-critical optics capabilities directly from labs to highly scalable manufacturing operations. We are pleased to partner with the AmeriCOM team for this innovative solution to ensuring our defense industrial base and workforce are prepared to meet the challenge of ever-evolving production requirements.” said Ms. Adele Ratcliff, the IBAS Program Director.

For more information on this project or on the National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative, please email osd.pentagon.ousd-a-s.mbx.ibas@mail.mil.