SIA frequently points out that semiconductors play a critical role in strengthening our country, including our national security. A concrete example comes from a new semiconductor developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that gives our military a measurable advantage in one critical arena of the modern battlefield: electronic warfare.
As DARPA explains, the advance is an exceptionally high-speed analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that is enabled by 32 nanometer silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor technologies. This advance allows the ability to operate spectrum-dependent military capabilities such as communications and radar without allowing the enemy to disable or “jam” them.
The development of this new semiconductor-enabled DARPA technology has a couple critical implications for policymakers. First, it underscores the strategic nature of the U.S. semiconductor industry to our country’s national security. As a recent Washington Post article describes, other “near peer” adversaries have strong electronic warfare capabilities, so to maintain global U.S. military leadership semiconductor technology will continue to play a critical role. As a result, the U.S. semiconductor industry must continue to maintain global industry leadership.
Second, policymakers need to increase federal investment for university-based, pre-competitive research at DARPA, NIST, NSF, and DOE, as well as implement and support research programs to advance semiconductor technology and innovation. Doing so will help ensure a vibrant U.S. semiconductor industry, which in turn will promote a strong and technologically advanced U.S. military and give our men and women in uniform the tools they need to succeed.