#58 Kara Kramer, AeroVironment: A deep dive into the Replicator initiative and future of military UAS

#58 Kara Kramer, AeroVironment: A deep dive into the Replicator initiative and future of military UAS

Welcome back to The Vertical Space and our conversation with Kara Kramer, Director of Business Development at AeroVironment. This is a discussion around the evolving role of UAS in warfare, including in Ukraine, the critical role of the supply chain to ensure we can properly engage in those wars, and the recent announcement of the U.S. DoD Replicator Initiative. 

Kara immediately jumps into the fragility of our UAS supply chain - something we've talked a lot about over the last couple of years, but she says that with all of the talk and awareness, not much has really been done about it relating to our preparation for UAS in warfare. Then we enter a very cool discussion that the outcome of future wars, as Peter says, may revolve around the capability to produce high volume electronics.

We discuss the state of the UAS market, particularly defense UAS and especially around mass. How many drones can you produce and field? How quickly can you scale what's needed to maintain scale? And lastly, how would you rise to meet that demand? Kara discusses how mass is achieved, how DoD forecasting orders is the greatest limiting factor and how even large businesses can't invest without effective DoD forecasting requirements. We discuss the impact of Ukraine on UAS and the impact it's having on our vision of future wars.

We then discuss DoD's Replicator Initiative and what drove its birth, how it surprised industry, how it will leverage unmanned systems to prepare for mass and how it's meant to address the growing threat from China. Finally listen to what Kara sees as the future of warfare and her advice to you, our entrepreneurs. 

06:03 Supply Chain Fragility: COVID, Video Games, Crypto
08:45 Historical Lessons in Modern Warfare: The Importance of Production Capacity
14:23 State of the UAS Market
15:55 Achieving Affordable Mass
25:08 Ukraine: The Drone Wars
27:28 Future of Air Superiority and Contested Logistics
31:31 Inevitability of Moving Humans Out of the Loop
33:57 A New Kind of Thinking Is Required
35:07 The Voice of the Customer
37:37 Counter UAS
41:14 The Replicator Initiative
46:45 Predicting the Players in Replicator's Tranche One
47:24 Requirements and Expectations for Replicator
50:24 Balancing Investment and Demand in the Industry
55:23 Role of Startups and Innovation Opportunities
01:04:01 Enablers That Are Necessary for Mass Deployment of Drones
01:05:16 Rethinking Pricing: The "Kirkland" Brand for Drones
01:08:30 Future of UAS and Counter UAS


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