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A robotic arm places a small-diameter bomb II guidance section into a test cell. Courtesy photo​.

​Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work emphasized the importance of military contractor innovation Monday after his recent trip to work sites in California and Arizona. “We talk a lot about the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental … but the innovation in our defense industrial base is quite impressive,” said Work, who recently visited a Raytheon munitions production line, which is using robotic assembly with impressive results. “It’s all on one line and the robot does everything, so the missiles are cleared faster and [the systems] are much more accurate over time,” Work added. He said he hopes this sort of industrial production innovation could help address the growing munitions shortage even as the department has “tried to deal with $800 billion in defense cuts.” The way forward is “with a lot of innovation, a lot of focus on reducing cost, and a lot of focus on producing more capability for the warfighters.” Taking the lead is the DOD’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). SCO works with industry partners to develop new technologies. It currently has 26 projects, six of which have evolved into military programs. The office’s funding has increased from $50 million to $1 billion over the years. “When SCO comes in with a proposal it's very well thought out and the majority of them get approved,” Work said. “That’s an important signal to send to industry—if we go this way there may be a program on the other end.” (For more on DOD innovation, see Carter to Create Chief Innovation Position.)