Pentagon seeks approval to fund NATO defense technology accelerator


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is seeking authority to contribute to NATO’s defense technology accelerator, which the organization created last year to support cooperation among allied nations on emerging technologies like hypersonics, artificial intelligence, space and quantum.

The request — part of a package of legislative proposals sent to Congress in late April and posted online May 16 — seeks permission to participate in the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic, known as DIANA.

The department wants to allot $12.5 million to DIANA in fiscal 2024 and another $35 million between FY25 and FY28, according to the proposal.

The effort is jointly funded, which means NATO doesn’t draw from the common fund that allies are required to contribute toward. Instead, member nations choose whether to pay into DIANA.

Defense News reported in March that DIANA will launch its first competition series this fall, set to take place in five cities: Tallinn, Estonia; Turin, Italy; Copenhagen, Denmark; Boston; and Seattle.

During the events, companies will use emerging technology to solve real-world defense challenges. NATO plans to invite participants to apply for the competition this summer.

DIANA’s 2023 technology priorities include energy resilience, sensing, surveillance and secure information sharing. Along with boosting NATO partnerships on technology development, DIANA is also creating a grant program to support startups with projects focused on defense or NATO-related efforts.

The program has more than 100 affiliated test centers across nearly every country that partners with NATO. That includes 28 “deep-tech” accelerators, two of which are located in North America.

Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.