Image of unmanned drone on back of truck and 2 support technicians.

Among the defense capabilities that will ensure a free-and-open Indo-Pacific is the Vanilla Ultra-Long Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), which provides low-cost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability that can be on station for eight days.

The UAS is part of R&E’s Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) program and performed as a communication relay during a 27-hour flight at Valiant Shield 24. Vanilla’s launch and flight, including multiple hours of flight during a violent storm, validated operational use of an Ultra-Long Endurance UAS capable of multi-day, multi-mission configurations.

RDER takes prototypes from the military services and combatant commands and, through field experimentation, verifies their operational relevance to the Joint Force’s needs. The most promising technologies can quickly transition into production and fielding. Valiant Shield 24 was Vanilla’s graduation event and formal Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8 assessment.

Absolutely Chairman.  Again, I commend the Honorable Shyu on the things she has done since we have been together.  I think she has done a number of things to include things like RDER and OSC as you know to help us bridge the valley of death and the programs you mentioned, the initiatives that you mentioned, are really mutually supportive.  And we are going to do, continue to do everything we can to move capability as quickly as we can across the valley of death and get it in to the hands of our warfighters.

Undersecretary of Defense for Research & Engineering Heidi Shyu meets with Maj. Grover Smith of the Indiana National Guard during Technology Readiness Experimentation (T-REX) 2023 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. T-REX is a critical component of the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) effort, which facilitates modernization efforts through rapid prototyping and experimentation of integrated joint military technologies.

T-REX 23-2 carried out 11 full scale assessments of new and innovative warfighting technologies from traditional and non-traditional defense companies, measuring their effectiveness and capability for further development based on the Joint Force's needs. The exercise included participation from Australia and the United Kingdom, who have been instrumental partners in the Department's drive to expand its science and technology capabilities

The service ordered two Valkyries last December and received them this spring for testing under the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve program, which allows the services to test concepts with systems already in use in other arenas with an emphasis on the needs of Indo-Pacific Command.

NE 23-2 picture

"There's one [prototype that a Marine recently] tested out [at Northern Edge 23-2 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan]. He said, 'This is fantastic. I absolutely need this. I'm going to deploy.' He wouldn't give us back the prototype. He literally took it and deployed with it. So that tells me that it's great. There's a demand signal for the product," Shyu said.

"Conducting joint development and experimentation with our allies and partners is critical to ensuring future interoperability, allowing us to tackle emerging threats together," said the British embassy's First Secretary of Defence for Science and Technology Luke Stevens.

Northern Edge

Traditionally a U.S. only event, NE 23-1 incorporated Allies for the first time to conduct high-end training and experimentation to reassure Allies and Partners that the U.S. is committed to maintaining regional stability. "This exercise communicated how committed the U.S. is to our allies..." said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. David Piffarerio.

"To incentivize more experimentation, and hasten the pathway from concepts to experiments to fielding, we developed RDER, the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve. It's not a program, nor a fund. Instead, RDER is an internal process that evaluates multi-service capability experiments with promise for advancing joint warfighting concepts."

DEPSECDEF at Ash Carter Innovation

"These technologies ensure the Department of Defense's ability to counter rapidly advancing technologies throughout the world and provide our warfighters the technological edge they need today. Indiana and the Indiana National Guard are proud to be involved since the creation of RDER and look forward to assisting in the program's future."

"The DOD's Adaptive Acquisition Framework, Grady said, and the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which is an initiative to encourage prototyping and experimentation in pursuit of solutions to joint problems, are also techniques that can speed up acquisition and get capabilities more quickly to warfighters."

Dr. Hicks

"Hastening the pathway from joint concept to experimentation to fielding systems through the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve." Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks called the 2024 budget request "the most strategy aligned budget in history."

"The RDER activities are a continuous campaign of Joint Experimentation. We have taken the Joint Staff's Joint Warfighting Concepts and utilized vetted scenarios to seek prototype solutions and experiment with them in a realistic environment. We have already gone through the detailed planning for 3 Sprints. Working closely with INDOPACOM is absolutely essential!"

Reagan National Defense Forum Ms. Shyu

"The Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which was stood up last year, is a collaboration between the military services, combatant commands, industry, and coalition partners with the aim of discovering new and innovative warfighting capabilities."

"Innovation is central here. Last year, we established the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which funds different parts of the department to work together to fill critical joint warfighting gaps. And our fiscal year 2023 budget request included more than $130 billion for research, development, testing, and evaluation - that's the largest R&D budget number in DOD history."

Secretary of Defense speaking into microphone.

"The Department of Defense concluded an Industry Engagement Day on July 26 for the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU-APL). More than 470 attendees and over 190 private sector companies participated in the full-day event. These companies represented small technology companies to major defense partners."

"Last year, the Department launched the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve to quickly get promising technology and prototypes into the hands of our warfighters. And we're working even more closely with trusted partners as we test game-changing technologies together."

Secretary of Defense making public speech.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks tweets: "Alongside members of Congress, I saw evidence this morning that DOD is making great strides in the innovation sphere and tackling our biggest challenges head-on..."

Latest News

DOD Harnessing Emerging Tech to Maintain Enduring Advantage

How to Participate

OUSD(R&E) is open to discussions of new technologies and capabilities suitable for experimentation through RDER. Templates for unsolicited white papers and quad charts are available below for download. Completed papers can be sent to the appropriate unclassified, SIPRNet, or JWICS mailboxes.

Industry Day Technical Exchange Meeting

The Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Mission Capabilities is hosting a classified Industry Day Technical Exchange Meeting (TEM) to provide insight into Mission Capabilities' priorities.

The Industry TEM will be held at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU-APL) in Laurel, MD, date TBD.  During the event, industry partners will learn about MC's technical priorities and capability challenges.

*** 16 August 2023 ***


If your submission is classified, please email the appropriate RDER inboxes:





Industry White Paper

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Industry Quad Chart

Image of quad chart template.

Capabilities. Alignment. Innovation.

RDER Provides Critical Benefits to the DoD


01 Accelerates Joint innovation

02 Expands International Partnerships and Multi-Lateral Engagement

03 Focuses Service Joint Experimentation

04 Quickly Demonstrates and Assesses Innovative Ideas

05 Provides Feedback to Future Warfighting Concept Development

Rapid Modernization

Pronounced "Raider," RDER is an initiative that facilitates more rapid modernization by focusing prototyping and experimentation efforts on multi-Component missions.


The Secretary will select among proposed experiments based on alignment to Joint missions and potential to yield demonstrable warfighting utility.

Demonstrations and experiments will be conducted at key exercise venues.

Successful demonstrations and experiments will be quickly transitioned to the Components for fielding as new systems or approaches.

Lifecycle costs will be considered for any RDER initiative
that has the potential to result in a new capability.



Assistant Secretary of Defense for Mission Capabilities
The Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301