DOD Awards $50 Million in University Research Equipment Awards > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Release

The Department of Defense (DOD) has announced awards to 150 university researchers totaling $50 million under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP).  These grants will be provided to 85 institutions across 33 states in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. 

DOD has long championed the country’s scientific ecosystem.  Through DURIP, the department supports purchases of major research equipment to augment current and develop new capabilities.  This effort enables universities to perform state-of-the-art research that boosts the United States’ technological edge, while ensuring that our future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce remains second to none.  This year, the awards will support equipment and instrumentation to accelerate basic research, which is relevant across the department to include quantum sciences, materials design, development, and characterization, machine learning, hypersonics, and more.  

“DURIP awards help maintain the cutting-edge capabilities of our universities and provide research infrastructure to enable the most creative scientific minds in the country to extend the boundaries of science and technology,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director, Basic Research Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.  “The awards will facilitate scientific advances that will drive unparalleled military capabilities for our country and help train our future STEM workforce.”

The annual DURIP award process is highly competitive.  The program is administered through a merit competition jointly by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, and Office of Naval Research.  The Department seeks specific proposals from university investigators conducting foundational science and engineering research relevant to national defense. 

For the FY 2021 competition, the Service research offices received 742 proposals requesting $297 million in total funding.  Selections made by the Service research offices are subject to successful completion of negotiations with the academic institutions. 

The list of winning proposals can be downloaded here.

About OUSD(R&E)

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense.  OUSD(R&E) fosters technological dominance across the DOD ensuring the unquestioned superiority of the American joint force.  Learn more at or follow us on Twitter:  @DoDCTO.

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Modern aircraft ventilation systems aren’t spreading viruses, DoD study suggests

A new study released Thursday suggests that people don’t need to worry about circulating air spreading coronavirus on airplanes.

a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky: TOPSHOT - Fleecy clouds are seen in the sky as an airplane prepares to land at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on November 5, 2018. (Photo by Silas Stein / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT    (Photo credit should read SILAS STEIN/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

© SILAS STEIN/DPA/DPA/AFP via Getty Images
TOPSHOT – Fleecy clouds are seen in the sky as an airplane prepares to land at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on November 5, 2018. (Photo by Silas Stein / dpa / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read SILAS STEIN/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)

The US Department of Defense study supports earlier research showing the ventilation systems on aircraft filter the air efficiently and take out particles that could transmit viruses.

The study, which was released without peer review, did not take into account other ways that people could catch the virus on aircraft — including from others coughing or breathing directly on them, from surfaces or from confined spaces such as restrooms.

The US Transportation Command, The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the Air Mobility Command used Boeing 777-200 and 767-300 aircraft loaded up with sensors meant to duplicate the effect of a fully loaded passenger flight.

A dummy wearing a surgical mask simulated a coughing passenger infected with a respiratory virus.

The team used fluorescent aerosol tracers to see where particles emitted from the coughing “passenger” went. They were sucked quickly into the ventilation system, the team concluded, and were unlikely to contaminate nearby surfaces or blow into the breathing zones of people seated nearby.

“Testing assumes that mask wearing is continuous, and that the number of infected personnel is low,” the research team wrote. “Contamination of surfaces via non-aerosol routes (large droplets or fecal contamination) is more likely in lavatories and other common areas and is not tested here,” they added.

“These alternative routes of exposure are more challenging to predict because of uncertainty in human behavior.”

Other reports have found people became infected with coronavirus on flights, perhaps when they took off masks to use restrooms.

“Testing did not include substantial movement throughout the plane or in the airport, lounge or jetway, where air change rates and human interactions will vary,” the researchers added.

“Similarly, the mannequin remained facing forward, uncertainty in human behavior with conversations and behavior may change the risk and directionality in the closest seats to an index patient, especially for large droplets.”

A lot left to learn

Much is still unknown about Covid-19 transmission aboard planes. Two previous studies documented real-life cases of suspected transmission aboard flights.

Both studies involved cases connected to long flights early in the pandemic, before airlines began requiring face masks.

Another study documenting a case of suspected coronavirus transmission aboard a flight involved a woman who wore an N95 mask throughout her flight except when she used the lavatory.

The lavatory was shared by an asymptomatic patient who was seated three rows away.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that “most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” adding

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DoD establishes hypersonics center at Naval Surface Warfare Center

Oct. 15 (UPI) — The Pentagon established a Joint Hypersonics Transition Office Systems Engineering Field Activity at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., on Thursday.

Mark Lewis, acting deputy under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, and JHTO director Gillian Bussey announced the opening in a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony with Gov. Eric Holcomb, according to the Department of Defense.

“The JHTO and its Systems Engineering Field Activity present a signature opportunity for the Department,” Lewis said. “Leveraging the capabilities at NSWC Crane, we can not only develop effective hypersonic technologies, but we can also develop them affordably at the speed of relevance to our warfighters. Proactive engineering for affordable upgrades is critical to the long-term sustainability of these systems.”

NWSC Crane was recently awarded contracts to advance its hypersonics testing and verification capabilities — including a $150 million award for an underwater launch test complex and a missile technology evaluation facility.

According to the Pentagon, more than 300 people are working to advance hypersonic technologies at NSWC Crane.

“NSWC Crane has become a critical hub in the hypersonics development ecosystem,” said Rick Davidoff, acting director of the JHTO systems engineering field activity.

“This exciting announcement is the culmination of the hard work and dedication of many people,” Davidoff said. “The JHTO Field Activity at Crane will allow OSD to leverage earlier and ongoing investments at Crane to help all three Services improve their hypersonic weapons with more rapid, adaptable, and modular upgrades. Indiana and the larger Midwest will have a long-term, critical role in this important national security mission.”

Earlier this week Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said a U.S. hypersonic missile test struck within six inches of a target after traveling thousands of miles at Mach 5 or faster.

The Pentagon announcement follows Russia’s announcement last week of the successful test-firing of its Zircon hypersonic missile, which it said struck a target 300 miles away after traveling at over 6,100 mph.

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