Defense Microelectronics Activity
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Department of Defense
Defense Microelectronics Activity

Summary: The Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) is the organization within the Department of Defense with the unique mission to provide microelectronic components and assemblies for the Department’s legacy systems.  DMEA reports to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Business Model: DMEA has a talented technical staff that works closely with the Department’s Service organizations, Program Offices and Depots to provide microelectronic components and assemblies for the Department’s legacy systems.  Program Managers within DMEA engage with industry to remain current on technologies available through the defense industrial base and commercial suppliers.
When DMEA receives a request for assistance from the Program Manager (PM), DMEA’s specialized microelectronic engineers work with the PM and their industrial partner to assess the requirements and determine a set of possible solutions. Solutions range from a simple device replacement to a system redesign. If necessary, DMEA will perform reverse engineering to re-create vital missing data. Once the PM selects the solution option, DMEA again works with industry to determine the best method to accomplish the task. A solicitation is issued to industry for those microelectronic parts that are needed. If industry does not respond, or cannot produce the part, DMEA serves as the source of last resort and fabricates the part at its facilities.

Business Model Flow Chart 


DMEA’s Flexible Foundry and Industry Partnership:  A microelectronic foundry is the factory that takes raw silicon and produces an integrated circuit or “chip.” The fabrication of an integrated circuit consists of multiple processing steps to form and connect many transistors and other circuit components to form the desired circuit function. Each type of chip requires a different “recipe” (process) in the foundry. Different companies use different recipes. These recipes are changed as microelectronic parts get smaller and more powerful.


The Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) mission focuses on providing microelectronics components for DoD systems, which cannot be provided by industry, or “legacy” parts. Legacy components may no longer be available from industry in as little as 2 years.  But the DoD must have an assured supply chain for its systems for 20 years or more. Working alongside of industry, DMEA has created a model partnership that provides this capability for the Department.  DMEA’s unique flexible foundry supports the DoD with a wide variety of parts using different processes from many commercial manufacturers in one location for as long as they are needed.


To obtain these processes, DMEA again works closely with US Industry partners to acquire Government-held process licenses. These licenses allow for the transfer of industry-developed intellectual property (IP) and their processes into DMEA for DoD needs.  The licenses ensure that there are no commercial conflicts by including industry’s first right of refusal. DMEA always looks to the industry first to see if they can provide the required parts. If industry cannot provide the part, only then does DMEA engage to provide the necessary prototypes and low volume production.  A critical element required to make this business model work effectively is protection of the industry partners’ valuable IP and technologies.  DMEA is Government owned and operated, which provides the structure and confidence that any individual industry’s IP will be protected and not available to a potential competitor. This strategic and cooperative industry partnership approach allows DMEA to use industry-developed IP and technologies by acquiring, installing, and applying them towards meeting the DOD’s immediate and long-term needs.
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Capabilities: Market demand for more advanced technology drives the need to make microelectronics with more capabilities in smaller sizes. The way they are measured is called a “node” size. In addition to using different processes, microelectronics are made using the different processes but at smaller and smaller node sizes. Over time, the semiconductor industry has shifted from large nodes sizes to ever-smaller sizes. The pace of this progress follows what is called “Moore's Law”: the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

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Impact: DMEA assists hundreds of program every year. DMEA has provided its unique engineering assistance and capabilities to both older programs, and to programs not even in the production phase. This includes the F-18 Super Hornet, F-22 Raptor, F-35, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper, AEGIS Advanced Surface Missile System, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), and many other programs. DMEA assists the Combatant Commands (COCOMs) including Special Ops, Cyber, Intelligence, and the Radiation-Hard communities.


Point of Contact:       


Ted Glum, Director
Defense Microelectronics Activity



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