Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today proudly announce that the Air Force Research Labratory (AFRL) has been designated as the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force. This designation is landmark news for the AFRL Information Directorate located in Rome, NY, the only AFRL directorate currently conducting quantum research, and follows years of advocacy from Schumer and Gillibrand, who have long pushed to secure significant federal investments to protect the once threatened Rome Lab. In addition to the designation, Rome Lab was awarded $8 million to conduct research and development in quantum information science at the Innovare Advancement Center in Rome. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, alongside former Congressman Brindisi (D-NY-22), were especially supportive of Rome Lab’s quantum computing research in recent years and set the stage for today’s designation, helping secure tens of millions of dollars that helped fund the Quantum Information Science Innovation Center, which opened in 2020. The “open campus,” also known as the Innovare Advancement Center, is a collaboration between researchers from the Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD), government, industry, small business community, and academia. The designation of the AFRL as the Quantum Information Science Research Center, signed by then Acting Secretary of the Air Force John P. Roth, will give the greater AFRL authority to achieve faster military capability and will help keep the Rome AFRL at the military’s epicenter of cyber-defense, quantum, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and cutting-edge cybersecurity research.
“The race to innovation in quantum computing is proving to be the great scientific race of the 21st century, and Rome Lab is leading the pack. The impacts of falling behind international competitors like China and Russia when it comes to this emerging technology would be wide-ranging and severe—from our economic stability to our national security,” said Senator Schumer. “Fortunately, through its designation as a Quantum Information Research Center, Rome Lab will be on the scene to help prevent that from happening. Accomplishments like these are exactly why I fight so relentlessly to secure federal funding for Rome Lab’s quantum research capabilities—to ensure they stay a quantum leap ahead of the competition.”
“Today’s monumental announcement is owed to the innovators at Rome Lab who represent the best of New York ingenuity,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Senator Schumer and I have long seen the potential in Rome’s AFRL and in the heart of New York workers, and we have fought in Congress to protect the Lab and ensure it always had the federal funding needed to thrive. Today’s designation, establishing the AFRL as the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the Air Force and Space Force, will continue New York’s legacy as an epicenter of quantum information science research and will help make America a worldwide leader in technological innovation.”
“AFRL’s designation as the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force further solidifies their commitment to groundbreaking research and development in quantum computing technology. This designation was made possible by the strong collaboration of our federal, state and local officials along with the CNY Defense Alliance. With the introduction of Innovare Advancement Center and the additional funding dedicated for quantum research at the AFRL Information Directorate, new partnerships will be forged in cybersecurity to assist our country’s defense and further the Air Force’s investment in our world class laboratory,” said Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo.
“AFRL Information Directorate has pioneered Quantum Information Science research and development with the strong support provided by the CNY Defense Alliance and federal partners,” stated the CNY Defense Alliance Executive Director, Mary Carol Chruscicki. “Before quantum was in our vocabulary, AFRL recognized quantum as a game changing technology that will enable capabilities not achievable with today’s computers. Chruscicki believes the designation as the Quantum Information Science Research Center for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Command is an endorsement of their global leadership in a technical area that is critical to our warfighter and our country in general.”
Located in Oneida County, one of Rome Lab’s primary focuses is gathering and processing cyber intelligence. Since 1997, it has been the USAF’s “Superlab” and is considered the nation’s premier research organization for Command, Control, Communications, Cyber and Intelligence (C4I) technologies. The lab focuses on developing information technology for air, space and ground systems, in addition to partnering with other federal agencies, universities, private industry and other state and local governments.
After securing $13.2 million in the 2019 Defense Appropriations package and personally lobbying the Air Force Secretary to move forward with long-awaited construction to enhance the lab’s perimeter security, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, alongside former Congressman Brindisi, set the stage for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) toward the funding to start long-sought construction to shield the lab from potential harm in 2020.
Rome Lab is also a source of growth for the regional economy and a major source of employment. According to the U.S. Air Force’s 2020 economic impact analysis, Rome Lab employed over 1,200 workers with an annual payroll of $150 million and generated over $500 million in regional economic activity last year. The U.S. Air Force’s economic impact study can be found here. Because of Rome Lab’s strong commitment to excellence in developing and enhancing this nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, as well as its commitment to employing local residents with good-paying jobs, Schumer, Gillibrand and Brindisi have long fought to ensure Rome Lab has what it needs to succeed and maintain its strong workforce.
In the Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 defense budgets, Schumer helped deliver $243 million and $245 million for Rome Lab’s operations and personnel, respectively. That funding included over $13 million directly secured by Schumer and Gillibrand for Rome Lab to establish critical components of the Innovare Advancement Center. In the 2020 defense budget, Schumer, Gillibrand and Brindisi secured $272 million for Rome Lab, a $27 million increase over 2019’s level and $34 million above the president’s budget request. The Lab is using this boosted funding to create an “open campus” ecosystem at the Innovare Advancement Center where researchers from the Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD), government, industry, small business community, and academia can collaborate to solve different computing problems using quantum computing technology, making it a leader in this emerging field.