December 8, 2023

Intro to Replicator – A BCE Thought Series


Over the next few weeks, BCE’s Global A&D leadership team will release a series of articles related to Replicator that will cover:

  1. Government relations and the requisite collaboration between industry and customers
  2. CONOPS and the DOTMILPF-P maturity of autonomous unmanned systems and swarm operations
  3. Command and control and communication architectures to support future unmanned systems, particularly in A2/AD environments
  4. TRL requirements for Replicator systems
  5. The numbers game – what is within the realm of the reasonable based on the volume of vehicles needed, level of funding available, and cost per vehicle
  6. Contracting vehicles to expedite acquisition of new systems
  7. Novel business models to support faster acquisition of more, and cheaper systems (E.g., as a service)

Replicator was developed to enable the rapid adoption and delivery of innovative unmanned technology to warfighters. It’s not a plan to bulk buy small, cheap drones. And it’s not a program with funding- at least not yet. But it is an important initiative that can benefit industry if it can help shrink the valley of death and reduce the high barriers to government contracting. And it’s equally as important to warfighters if it can field large quantities of attritable systems to enable the US and our allies to deter and defeat near peers.

Success will require mutual buy-in and collaboration across industry- both at the classified and unclassified levels. Industry will need to be given enough information about requirements and funding to develop and deliver solutions and government will need industry to deliver higher quantities at a faster pace. Collaboration is essential otherwise it will become a chicken and an egg with industry waiting for funding to produce systems and government waiting for developed systems to fund.

Since it was announced, many Replicator discussions have focused on the air domain, but to effectively deter peer threats we will need similar capabilities in all domains, particularly given the critical threat environment in Indo-Pacific.

In INDOPACOM specifically, UASs can be used for ISR, comms relays, EW, and as decoys – but these systems will likely require longer endurance than the systems we are seeing in Ukraine. USVs and UUVs are and will continue to be a top priority in the region. Particularly, smaller UUVs that can provide essential capabilities (E.g., ISR, comms, asset tracking, EW, decoy) at affordable cost points. And space systems will be an enabler for ISR and communications missions.

Although UGVs will be an important piece of Replicator in the future, it is unlikely to be prioritized in the near term if requirements are focused on Indo-Pacific.

As every article states…the department plans to identify the first tranche of candidate systems in December and DIU will host a tech summit in early 2024. The latter will be an opportunity for industry to collaborate with and shape the customer as the department seeks feedback on the Replicator process.

Our team has helped clients characterize future state market opportunities, shape requirements, position against competitors, and develop and analyze business cases for unmanned systems and the Replicator initiative in particular. Please reach out to any of our A&D leaders or for more information.

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