In an era where the introduction of new technologies, led by those that are digital at their core, is accelerating, an unprecedented opportunity to transform the way in which systems are designed, manufactured, and sustained exists for those who can harness and integrate these technologies quickly. An emerging digital manufacturing infrastructure, implementing Industry 4.0 technologies, is already showing promise for increasing American competitiveness by delivering unprecedented agility; simultaneously reducing costs while increasing production rates and quality. Concurrently, the war fighter is demanding an acceleration in the speed in which new capabilities are delivered. Hence, the speed at which technology is changing, coupled with the speed in which new war fighting capabilities are needed, could drive untenable investment requirements without radically changing the way in which systems are designed, manufactured, and maintained.
The accelerated introduction of new technologies is a global phenomenon that stands to level the war fighting playing field between nations. While manufacturing went global some time ago, the defense industry has also increased its dependence on domestic and international commercial innovations and markets. These factors are continuing to dramatically alter the defense industrial base. Globalized manufacturing also means the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force are becoming increasingly reliant on foreign sources for manufactured products such as critical chemicals, components made from rare earth elements, and microelectronics.