Pentagon spending on artificial intelligence is expected to grow faster than the overall defense information-technology market, according to one analyst.
Eighteen contracts with a total value of $489 million were awarded by the Defense Department in 2019 for AI products and services, noted Brad Curran, industry principal for aerospace, defense and security at Frost & Sullivan.
While military spending on IT is projected to increase about 2 percent in 2021, artificial intelligence is projected to do better within that portfolio over the short-, medium- and long-term, he said during a recent webinar.
The Pentagon established the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center in 2018, and each of the services and many other organizations within the Defense Department are also doing their own work with the technology, he noted.
“The contracts to assist analysts and to assist human understanding, to be able to take large amounts of data and do predictive analytics is very important to DoD for logistics, for maintenance, for intelligence, for communications, to be able to make the best possible use of the crowded frequency spectrum,” he said. “Many different areas are using artificial intelligence more and more within DoD.”
Contract trends include computer vision engineering to improve network performance, and containerized and deployable machine learning systems, according to his presentation slides.
The market represents an opening for commercial firms, he noted. However, they might not always be able to sell commercial-off-the-shelf systems.
“Firms that provide artificial intelligence software and services … have to be flexible enough to modify their products to be able to work within and for a larger systems integrator or in contracting directly with DoD, to make sure that they are able to bring operational advantages,” he said. “They may have to modify it a bit and make sure that they’re meeting DoD operational needs.”
In addition to bidding on contracts directly, commercial companies can get their foot in the door of the military acquisition enterprise by working with large systems integrators, he noted.
“They’re always looking for subcontractors,” Curran said. “It’s a great way to break into the DoD market by partnering with established DoD network providers.”