February 27, 2024

BCE Digest: Replicator success ingredients

At its core, Replicator is an initiative to address the DoD’s scaling problem. And in this sense, success will be defined by the development of a model to scale unmanned systems production and the application of that model to other platforms and munitions.

“Scaling is the DoD’s kryptonite. We can prototype our way out of anything – and these are prototypes that would make your eyes water because they are like science fiction. But we are failing the warfighters of tomorrow because we cannot scale today.” – General Clint Hinote

The recipe for Replicator success has not yet been written, but critical ingredients will certainly include:

  1. DoD addressing its failure to scale low-cost production quickly
  2. DIU establishing itself as a disruptor able to bridge the gap between DOD requirements and commercial capabilities
  3. New business models to meet global demand for attritable systems

Scale production:

Relying on vertically integrated vendors to deliver a low-cost and high volume program like Replicator may inhibit the DoD’s ability to scale. A prime contractor may not be able – on its own – to design, manufacture, and integrate platforms at the scale, speed, and cost needed for this type of program.

In a recent discussion, General Hinote pointed to WWII, during which design and manufacturing responsibilities were split to effectively increase production capacity, as a successful example of scalable manufacturing. This model could be a useful reference as DIU attempts to solve the problem of scalability between government, commercial, and defense contractor manufacturing. And with the advanced technology we have today, such as additive manufacturing, scaled production is even more feasible than it was in the 1940s.

Additionally, scaling will require DOD to bridge the “valley of death” and successfully transition prototypes and proven concepts to programs of record. Theoretically, DIU should be well positioned to bridge this gap, but DIU has limited to no past success doing this.

DIU success

DIU has a critical role to play in Replicator. And this will certainly be a test of its ability to accomplish what it was created to do: create a repeatable model that can bridge the gap between commercial capabilities and unmet defense needs. Failure on Replicator could very well mean failure for DIU.

The Feb. 13th technology summit will be a window into DIU’s progress on Replicator thus far. Recent commentary from Aditi Kumar, DIU’s deputy director for strategy, policy, and national security partnerships, suggests DIU is now working with Congress to develop a funding strategy.

Business models to meet global demand

A third ingredient for success will be unique business models that can deliver the quantity of unmanned systems needed. U.S. and allied demand for unmanned systems, driven by the threat environment and attritables requirement, will surpass U.S. manufacturing capacity. Part of a successful model could include IP sharing, rather than FMS, as a framework to meet the production requirements of the U.S. and our allies. This will be especially true in INDOPACOM where IP sharing could leverage allied manufacturing capacity (E.g., Australia, Japan, Taiwan) to meet coalition needs.


Replicator continues to be a hot topic across industry as vendors try to find actionable opportunities to support the warfighter. BCE’s A&D teams are set up to help clients work with customers to shape requirements, identify partners and channels to market, and position for the future state of the market, including business model innovation.

Our global A&D leaders recently had the opportunity to sit down with General Clint Hinote and discuss the Replicator initiative. And more specifically the hurdles industry and USG will have to overcome for Replicator to be successful.

Aerospace and Defense

Craig Belanger
Senior Partner & Co-Founder Boston
Joe Giandomenico
Principal Boston
Anirudh Suneel
Principal London
Ben Osterholtz
Manager Boston
Robyn Pirie
Manager Boston
Mark Kipphut
Senior Advisor Dallas
Kristin A. Robertson
Senior Advisor, Aerospace & Defense St. Louis
Aaron Prupas
Senior Advisor, Aerospace & Defense Washington
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