Innovation Lightbulb: A Look at DoD’s Trusted & Assured Microelectronics Program

Innovation Lightbulb: A Look at DoD's Trusted & Assured Microelectronics Program

Innovation Lightbulb: A Look at DoD’s Trusted & Assured Microelectronics Program What measures is the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) taking to ensure a secure and stable semiconductor supply chain for defense applications? This week, we look at the Trusted and Assured Microelectronics program (TAM)—the DoD’s largest semiconductor initiative by funding. DoD has limited access to advanced microelectronics capabilities. Unlike commercial customers, many DoD applications require relatively small volumes of specialized chips. The world’s most advanced chip-making firms, by contrast, rely on high-volumes of production to make up the significant capital and R&D investments necessary for competing in the industry. DoD’s small demand pull means the world’s most advanced chips are not developed or produced with defense applications or security requirements in mind, presenting a challenge for defense chip procurement. The TAM program seeks to address this problem. The program was established in 2018 but saw a significant funding increase following the passage of the CHIPS Act: from $593 million in FY21 to $793 million in FY22 and eclipsing $1 billion for FY24. Although the 2025 base funding for TAM shows a decline, congressional add-ons could still raise the total (Congress provided an additional $76.5 million to TAM funding in FY21, and $196 million in FY22). These substantial budget increases are consistent with the U.S. government’s diverse efforts to secure its supply of semiconductors, which go into many mission-critical defense technologies. TAM is subdivided into three main projects. (1) Access to State-of-the-Art Microelectronics Project (SOTA) directs DoD funding toward building relationships with advanced U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturers to gain access to their production capabilities and co-develop measures to secure semiconductors in defense platforms at the design and production level. The SOTA project receives approximately half of TAM’s funding.   (2) ‘ Address DoD Unique Needs ’, funds specific microelectronics research initiatives with direct military applications. This includes radiation-hardened (“rad-hard”) devices, radio frequency chips, and opto-electronic technology.  (3) The State-of-the-Art Heterogenous Packaging (SHIP) project seeks to leverage commercial advanced packaging capabilities—critical for today’s high-performance semiconductors—for DoD missions. Although SHIP has the smallest share of the program budget, it led to the successful development of a set of prototypes co-developed with Intel and Qorvo that are being tested on defense platforms. Data visualization by William Taylor