JAIC awards biggest contract yet to buy AI for the battlefield

Airmen assigned to the 823d Base Defense Squadron discuss procedures during Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System Training May 12, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. (U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Elijah M. Dority)

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The Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will get $800 million worth of warfighting AI-enabled technology from Booz Allen Hamilton, the center announced Monday.

Booz Allen Hamilton will be working on the JAIC’s Joint Warfighting mission initiative, the center’s push to leverage AI’s use in the battlefield. The contract is the largest the young center has awarded to date. The work that will take place for the next five years under the task order will cross the “full spectrum of technical support” and deliver AI-enabled systems to the JAIC, according the announcement.

“The Joint Warfighting mission initiative will provide the Joint Force with AI-enabled solutions vital to improving operational effectiveness in all domains,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the JAIC. “This contract will be an important element as the JAIC increasingly focuses on fielding AI-enabled capabilities that meet the needs of the warfighter and decision-makers at every level.”

The mission initiative has five total lines of effort that the contractor will work as the “lead integrator” on, Lt. Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson told FedScoop in an email. The lines of effort  include the military’s futuristic network-of-networks Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2); “Overmatch,” or wielding more firepower and ability than an enemy force; “Joint Fires,” which is firepower that is coordinated to cover and advance shooters; electromagnetic spectrum operations that disable communication networks; and “Strategic Mobility,” for which AI can help facility logistics.

The award is a task order under the General Services Administration‘s Alliant 2 governmentwide acquisition contract that awards AI and other emerging technology work to a group of 52 contractors. The JAIC is the DOD’s AI center of excellence and works closely with GSA’s Technology Transformation Services, which helped facilitate this contract.

“This award represents an important step in the JAIC’s delivery of AI solutions across the Department of Defense,” GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a statement.

Under the terms of the $50 billion indefinite delivery, indefinite-quantity Alliant 2 contract, civilian agencies are able to access the technology delivered by Booz Allen. It’s unclear how or if they would use DOD-specific tech, but the contract allows for transfer across the government. The work will include AI product development, managing and labeling the DOD’s data, and transitioning AI products into programs across the DOD, according to the release.

The JAIC has stressed its implementation of recently adopted AI ethics principles, especially for the technology’s use in military operations. Other JAIC initiatives focus on less controversial areas, like back-office tasks and business systems.

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alliant 2, artificial intelligence (AI), Booz Allen Hamilton, Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), Technology Transformation Services (TTS)
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