Over $272 million for the Rome Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is included in the soon-to-pass bipartisan omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2020, announced U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi.
The funding is more than $34 million above the president’s budget request for fiscal 2020 and $27 million more than Rome Lab received in fiscal 2019, according to the announcement.
Much of the increase is for Rome Lab’s Quantum Computing Innovation Center; it aims to advance American understanding of quantum computing through creation of an “open campus” ecosystem where researchers from the Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD), government, industry, small business community and academia can collaborate to solve computing problems. The lab has been selected as the DOD’s lead representative for quantum research. Additional funding will be used for Rome Lab to research Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology, including how it can better serve the U.S. military.
The funding is “a green light for DOD to supercharge its investment in just the kind of cutting-edge quantum computing and artificial intelligence research that is happening at Rome Lab,” said Schumer, D-NY.
“The nation that innovates fastest and best in these technologies will be the superpower of the next century and I am beyond excited to help make Rome Lab a central part of that effort,” Schumer added.
Gillibrand, also D-NY, said Rome Lab is “one of the nation’s premier research facilities” and “produces key intelligence and advanced technology that helps defend our country from cyber-attacks and strengthens our cyber infrastructure.” The funding award will “help it continue to be a leader in national security and develop cutting-edge technology that keeps us safe....”
Brindisi, D-22, Utica, said “the race to harness quantum technology will be competitive and we need to make sure America is leading that race....These dollars, along with the hard-working men and women at Rome Lab, will allow our military to continue to innovate and create the technologies that will lead us into the future.”
In fiscal 2018, Rome Lab overall received over $1.6 billion in funding. Among several other categories that provide funding for the lab are the military services plus affiliated defense agencies.
The lab’s fiscal 2018 workforce included 777 civilian and military employees plus 405 on-site contractors.
Rome Lab leads the Air Force and nation in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) and cyber science, technology, research, and development, says its annual economic impact report.