AFRL opens state-of-the-art Extreme Computing facility, announces $44 million in additional funding
Rome, N.Y. (AFRL) — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s, or AFRL, new Extreme Computing Facility at the Information Directorate in Rome, New York, is a vital component to national defense research, and AFRL is using the most cutting-edge Quantum Computing technology available to protect the nation and deliver game-changing technologies to the warfighter.
AFRL’s Information Directorate welcomed U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to the new AFRL Information Directorate lab, Aug. 8, 2023, a facility for which they had previously secured appropriations. After the official ribbon cutting, both New York senators toured the new Extreme Computing Lab at the Rome site and revealed they have secured $44 million in new federal funding in the Senate Defense Appropriations Bill to further grow Quantum Computing Programs.
“This Extreme Computing Facility marks a new era in the accelerated development, integration and deployment of advanced computing technologies for the Department of the Air Force,” said Michael Hayduk, deputy director, Information Directorate. “The state-of-the-art laboratories for trusted computing, machine learning, neuromorphic and nanocomputing and quantum networking will advance our competitive edge in extreme computing. We thank the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, leadership, and our federal partners for championing the revolutionary technologies in development at the AFRL Information Directorate in direct support of our warfighters.”
This new infusion of funds will supercharge the growth of quantum computing, which is critical to maintain the U.S.’s competitive edge, and to solidify the Mohawk Valley as home to America’s premier cutting-edge military research facility, Schumer and Gillibrand said.
“The Rome Lab and powerhouse workforce of the Mohawk Valley are going to be the ones to take us to the next frontier and ensure America leads the globe in the quantum computing super race,” Schumer said. “The Extreme Computing Facility opening today is only the beginning. I am proud to announce that I have secured over $44 million in the Senate Defense Appropriations Bill to supercharge these efforts, bolster our national security, and make sure Rome Lab is America’s leader in quantum computing and Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS technology.”
Schumer continued to highlight that the next generation of the most advanced computers and technological research for our most sensitive military applications will happen at the Rome based laboratory.
“The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Rome location has garnered a reputation as one of America’s premier military research facilities, and this new Extreme Computing Facility will ensure that we remain a leader in advanced computing,” Gillibrand added. “I am proud to have worked to secure this new funding and will continue to fight to ensure the Mohawk Valley is leading the way in defense research.”
Schumer and Gillibrand explained that this year in the Senate Defense Appropriations markup, the AFRL Information Directorate received funding for five major projects that will continue the lab’s position as a premier cutting-edge military research facility. They include: $10 million for Distributed Quantum Networking Testbed and Quantum Cloud Computing Environment.
- $4 million for Photonic Quantum Computing, which will develop a next-generation ion trap computer.
- $10 million for Enhancements and Operational Readiness improvements for Trusted DoD/Federal Unmanned Aircraft Systems. This system will manage UAS traffic to support the emerging Federal Aviation Administration/National Aeronautics and Space Administration Advanced Air Mobility vision and provide a real-time interface to Air Traffic Control.
- $10 million for a Joint All-Domain Command and Control testbed which creates an operational-like environment that allows the warfighter to test cutting-edge technology and tools and provide feedback for researchers.
- $10 million for a Multi-Domain Radio Frequency Spectrum Test environment.
As China invests heavily in quantum computing research, the AFRL Information Directorate’s work ensures that the U.S. pushes ahead on this critically important technology, the senators said, also noting that AFRL’s projects are vital to ensuring the U.S. military maintains the technological edge over its adversaries.
“The Extreme Computing Facility, or ECF, has a wide range of science and technology capabilities that collaborators from private industry, federal agencies and state and local governments leverage to address pressing technical issues and gain a competitive advantage,” said Col. Fred Garcia II, director, Information Directorate. “It is with the support from those same collaborators that we are solving challenges and seizing opportunities to help maintain the security and welfare of the United States, especially in view of the different threats that our country faces.”
AFRL’s newly completed Extreme Computing facility is a direct result of the $7.5 million in funding that Schumer and Gillibrand secured across the fiscal 2020-2022 budget. The new AFRL facility is the counterpart to the Griffiss Institute’s Innovare Advancement Center, the off-installation, open collaboration environment for advancing innovation with industry and academic partners that the senators also helped fund.
According to Karen Roth, chief engineer at the Information Directorate, the complimentary AFRL and Griffiss Institute facilities afford AFRL the ability to do basic research off-installation that can be transitioned to analogous facilities on-installation for classified defense research vital to national security, and vice versa. This provides a streamlined mechanism for collaboration and technology transfer between DoD, industry partners and academia.
The AFRL Extreme Computing facility is focused on basic research for national defense applications and is headlined by two laboratories for basic research in quantum computing, networking and security, and two neuromorphic computing laboratories for basic research in machine learning models approximating human neurocognition.
One of the Information Directorate’s primary goals is to gather and process cyber intelligence. Since 1997, it has considered one of the nation’s premier research organizations for Command, Control, Communications, Cyber and Intelligence (C4I) technologies. The lab focuses on developing information technology for air, space and ground systems, in addition to partnering with other federal agencies, universities, private industry and other state and local governments.
In 2021, the Information Directorate was designated as the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. This laid the foundation for the “Quantum Computing Test Bed” at the Innovare Advancement Center, which aims to be a global catalyst to converge world-class talent in areas including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and quantum, to tackle the country’s greatest challenges to national security and economic competitiveness.
AFRL’s Information Directorate is also a source of growth for the regional economy and a major source of employment. According to the U.S. Air Force’s 2020 economic impact analysis, the Information Directorate employs over 1,200 workers with an annual payroll of $150 million and generates over $500 million in regional economic activity.
The U.S. Air Force’s economic impact study can be found HERE.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.