Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division

INDIAN HEAD, Md. — Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD), in conjunction with the National Armament Consortium (NAC), held a Naval Energetic Systems and Technologies (NEST) Collaboration Event at the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) Velocity Center in Indian Head, Maryland, June 28-29. 

NSWC IHD Technical Director Ashley Johnson opened the event and speakers included NAC Executive Director Charles Zisette, NSWC IHD Energetics Manufacturing Department Head Dr. Phillip Cole, and NSWC IHD Customer Advocate Office Director Dave Olson.  

“Russia is doing a pretty good job of reminding the world why we want munitions. There are many on the sideline trying to get ready,” said Johnson. “Range, speed, term effects, signature management and safety are all borne from energetic systems. We are trying to blunt China, hence the need for an energetics renaissance. We’re focusing on building a capability that’s largely been dormant. This community is what it’s all about — being able to reestablish that competitive advantage. We need to understand and channel that urgency.” 

The two-day event featured discussions on emerging challenges and opportunities, and presented upcoming requirements for prototype projects. Cole provided attendees with an overview of NSWC IHD’s energetics manufacturing department, which outlined its lines of operation, capabilities, facilities and impact on the warfighter. This set the stage for event attendees to tour six of the department’s manufacturing facilities at NSWC IHD, which included the new state-of-the-art $100 million liquid nitrate ester manufacturing Agile Chemical Facility. The first day also featured six statements of need (SON) briefings while the second day focused on meetings between government technical points of contact and NAC members to discuss individual requirements. 

“We’re very much in an energetics renaissance. We’re reinvigorating energetics manufacturing at Indian Head, and we have a lot of experience in my department in those capabilities,” said Cole. “A lot of the constituent components [for energetics systems] no longer exist, so we’re doing a lot of prototyping. This NEST OTA [Other Transaction Agreement] and partnership is so critically important: we want to partner, and I view it as absolutely critical to our success.” 

The NEST program is a collaboration executed under an OTA with NWSC IHD to address the most significant energetics-related challenges facing our nation. NSWC IHD received the authority to establish the NEST OTA in 2020, allowing the command to enter into a contract outside the Federal Acquisition Regulation with nontraditional defense contractors. Under a traditional contract assignment, once a Request for Proposal is released, the customer is not permitted to speak with the submitting company. However, OTAs allow the customer to work with companies to discuss making the product better, facilitating partnerships between private industry and the customer.  

To date, 83 SONs have been solicited through NEST, and they have received 227 whitepapers. Twenty-seven projects are currently in the award process with a total expected value of more than $180 million, and the first awards are expected to be finalized in the next few weeks. The event was the third in a series of collaboration events to promote NEST.  

To learn more about the partnership between NSWC IHD and NEST, visit    

NSWC IHD — a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command and part of the Navy’s Science and Engineering Establishment — is the leader in ordnance, energetics and EOD solutions. The Division focuses on energetics research, development, testing, evaluation, in-service support, manufacturing and disposal; and provides warfighters solutions to detect, locate, access, identify, render safe, recover, exploit and dispose of explosive ordnance threats. 

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