In a nondescript office at BAE Systems, a whiteboard sat covered with a few drawings and seemingly random phrases like “supply chain,” “warfighter technology + commercial,” “COLLABORATION,” “single point of contact,” “Why not us?”, and “NOW!!”
That whiteboard session led to the forming of an organization whose goal is unapologetically simple but significant. BAE Systems’ Electronic Systems (ES) Microelectronics organization is working to revolutionize defense and commercial supply chains, to the benefit of all stakeholders.
“The idea to form the organization came to us in an instant – well, it was 30+ years in the making, but the lightbulb moment was a sudden realization that we had all the pieces we needed to make this work,” said James Li, director of ES Microelectronics at BAE Systems. “It was really a hallway conversation where we put it all together. We realized we have the opportunity of being an industry leader at the epicenter of the microelectronics evolution.”
BAE Systems’ ES Microelectronics aims to leverage its work across the Department of Defense (DoD) and its collaboration with commercial industries. The goal is to bring together knowledge of specific DoD requirements with the commercial industry’s cutting-edge technology that is backed by unprecedented research and development (R&D) budgets to benefit the nation’s warfighters.
Unique position: As a leading supplier of cross-platform systems and payloads, BAE Systems is big enough to make an impact yet agile enough to be a true partner with commercial industry and DoD teammates.
Collaborative approach: BAE Systems seeks to establish vehicles for commercial industries, defense industries, non-profits, and public entities to collectively solve the nation’s challenges. The company is applying its proven technical system integration expertise to build and integrate human and business centric systems.
Proven pedigree: The company is already successfully demonstrating this approach through active collaboration with leading commercial entities, including recently announced work with Intel and Microsoft.
“We have proven ourselves as a systems integrator able to bring technologies from multiple, frequently competing entities, together to provide the government with state-of-the-art solutions,” continued Li. “Given our critical role in the defense supply chain, we have a vested interest in pioneering solutions to ensure supply chain security and resilience and provide government customers access to the latest technology in a timely manner.”
Over the years, there have been many attempts at closing the chasm between commercial and defense technology. Some more successful than others. What sets BAE Systems’ Microelectronics organization apart was born on that whiteboard.
The organization was built around a few key concepts.
- To the benefit of all: Create opportunities and unlock roadblocks to benefit all companies and ultimately, the warfighter.
- Embrace the power of size: Create a small agile group that would act quickly, but could access the entire enterprise.
- Leverage our institutional knowledge: Tap into the organizational expertise built by decades of experience developing exquisite electronic systems for undersea, land, air, and space platforms.
Leveraging the strengths of the greater BAE Systems, Inc. organization, the microelectronics strategy is based on five initiatives:
- Trust and Assurance: Striking a balance between traditional security models of trust and newer assurance models to minimize supply chain risks.
- Depth of supply: Understanding supply chain risks, from materials to systems, and identifying strategic gaps.
- Geographic diversity: Reducing our dependence on any one geographic area or country.
- Collaboration for success: Finding the best in class partners to collaborate with and deliver the ideal solution together.
- Thoughtful regulation: Navigating existing regulations and advocating for reforms that speed technology to our warfighters while keeping it from falling into the wrong hands.
“We aim to be a thought and strategic implementation leader in this space. We add value by connecting the DoD with its supply chain end-to-end, with tangible mission-impacting results,” said Wesley Allen, technical director at BAE Systems. “Through this organization we’ll better support the government’s efforts to establish public-private collaborations and commercial-defense industrial partnerships.”